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20 Shows We Want to See in 2016

1. Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC from May 10 to October 16, 2016

For the past 30 years, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun has taken an unapologetically confrontational approach to issues of land rights, environmental degradation and the disastrous consequences of colonial politics on Indigenous identity. His sweeping narrative and abstract paintings, hinged on the iconography of his Coast Salish roots, and hard-hitting performances (especially An Indian Act Shooting the Indian Act) are critical cornerstones in resistance to the historical status quo. “Unceded Territories” gathers 60 plus works in the first significant overview of Yuweluptun’s practice in more than 20 years. Curated by Karen Duffek and Tania Willard. – Bryne McLaughlin, managing editor

2. Morehshin Allahyari at Trinity Square Video from February 11 to March 19, 2016

Technocapitalism, petrochemicals and jihad come even closer than you might think in American-Iranian artist Morehshin Allahyari’s series Material Speculation: ISIS. Based on extensive research (including interviews with archaeologists, historians and museum staff in Iraq and Iran), Allahyari has modelled and 3-D printed selected Roman and Assyrian relics destroyed by ISIS in 2015. The resulting sculptures are also time capsules of a sort: sealed inside each is a retrievable flash drive complete with images, maps, documents and videos that catalogue the original artifacts and sites in the last months their of existence. For the project’s final stage, Allahyari intends to post 3-D printable files for each work online in an open-source bid to repair the wrongs of history and memory, and redirect the gadgetry of high-tech commerce as a unilateral tool for resistance and recovery. Curated by John G. Hampton. – Bryne McLaughlin, managing editor

3. Agnes Martin at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from October 2016 to January 2017

The Macklin, Saskatchewan–born artist’s signature post-minimalist grids will fill the spiralling rotunda of the Guggenheim in this first comprehensive survey to be held since her death in 2004. This exhibition, organized by Tate Modern, follows a run in the London museum that was hailed by the Telegraph as “immaculate.” The show will be presented in a broad chronology, tracing Martin’s early biomorphic abstractions from the 1950s through to the austere, geometric square-format canvases she is best known for, and ending with the artist’s final work: a small, simple, ink-on-paper drawing of a succulent in a pot. The curators have chosen not to focus on the somewhat troubling details of the artist’s personal life—she spent much of the 1960s hospitalized because of paranoid schizophrenia—but fortunately there is also an excellent biography, Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art by Nancy Princenthal, available for those interested in Martin’s fascinating life. – Rosie Prata, copy editor

4. Ragnar Kjartansson at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal from February 11 to May 22, 2016

The MAC will host the Icelandic artist’s first major exhibition in Canada, and it will include some of the works he is best known for, including The Visitors (2012), a nine-channel video installation showing musician friends (including members of Múm and Sigur Rós, because everyone knows each other in Iceland) performing their individual interpretations of a song in rooms of a run-down mansion, and A Lot of Sorrow (2013), in which American indie-rock band the National perform their song “Sorrow” for six hours straight, or 105 times in a row. Kjartansson’s works are emotional, playfully ironic and at times melancholic or ecstatic. “My works are all kinds of anti-storytelling,” he has said. “They’re always about a feeling, but there’s no story.” Watch our video clip of Kjartansson’s January 2015 performance at the Art Gallery of Ontario for a sample of his particular brand of comic misery. – Rosie Prata, copyeditor

5. Oliver Husain’s Isla Santa Maria 3D at Gallery TPW from April 14 to June 2, 2016

A short film in 3-D by Oliver Husain? Yes please. Husain has dropped hints about this new project, co-produced with Images Festival, with calls for extras late this summer and a special screening of the trailer before the premiere of Life of a Craphead’s BUGS at the Art Gallery of Ontario this past December. From what I can gather this is going to be some retro-futuristic Charles Atlas-y queer dystopic thing. Whatever, it’ll be great. – David Balzer, deputy editor

6. Laura Poitras at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, from February 5 to April 1, 2016

Don’t be surprised if you run into federal agents roaming the eighth floor of the Whitney this February. A year after winning the best documentary Academy Award, filmmaker Laura Poitras is preparing for her first solo museum exhibition, while still embroiled in lawsuits with the US government over allegations of systemic harassment stemming from her explosive revelations of clandestine government surveillance. The exhibition features all new works, presented in a network of installations. The exhibition is curated by Jay Sanders, the Whitney’s “first ever” performance curator, which seems an apt fit for a filmmaker who consistently places within the charged scenarios she records. – Nicholas Brown, manager of programming and education and contributing editor

7. Chris Cran and Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun at the National Gallery of Canada, opening May 20 and June 10, 2016

Calgarian Chris Cran is a popular painter, and a Pop painter. (Like Warhol, an influence, Cran has painted the late Elizabeth Taylor, and this portrait was in her art collection.) A retrospective of Cran’s work at the National Gallery of Canada, the most comprehensive to date, promises to explore the intellectual side of this graphic, inviting body of work. A similarly surprising choice for the NGC is their 2016 summer show, Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, late Rococo painter and favourite of Marie Antoinette, whom she so vividly and frequently portrayed that Sofia Coppola used her paintings as a reference point for the art direction of her 2006 film. – David Balzer, deputy editor

8. Sky Glabush, “What Is A Self?” at Oakville Galleries from January 17 to March 13, 2016

London, Ontario artist Sky Glabush can be counted on to produce work that is about making as much as form. Indeed, for Glabush, making is form, with the evidence of the artist’s hand becoming its own kind of beauty, or non-beauty—its own kind of belief, or non-belief. For this new suite of work, Glabush experiments with weaving, of which he’s been giving us captivating glimpses on Instagram. A perfect exhibition for the quiet, contemplative winter months. – David Balzer, deputy editor

9. “Constellation/conversation” at Artspace from September 9 to 30, 2016

This pick is the equivalent of seeing a movie trailer and deciding to watch the film because of the cast, regardless of the plot. Any exhibition involving Tanya Lukin Linklater and Leanne Simpson with Layli Long Soldier, cheyanne turions and Tara Williamson deserves to be on this list. The show builds from a poem by Leanne Simpson and the other four participants will offer responses, with the programming culminating in a conversation among all five. – Caoimhe Morgan-Feir, interim online editor

10. “All that you touch” at the Ottawa Art Gallery from February 19 to May 29, 2016

The world “material” is often bandied about as a kind of catchall adjective (very “material” painting, a truly “material” engagement and so on), but while “All that you touch” shares this focus, each of the artists use their materials in unexpected, unusual ways. In the past, Ursula Johnson has taken basket weaving to performative extremes; Lisa Myers has bridged food and sound in lively pieces; Gail Tremblay has turned 16-mm film into jewel-like baskets. It’s material, but entirely unpredictable. – Caoimhe Morgan-Feir, interim online editor

11. Carol Sawyer at Carleton University Art Gallery from January 18 to April 19, 2016

For the latest iteration of her ongoing project Some Documents from the Life of Natalie Brettschneider, Vancouver artist Carol Sawyer delves into the life and work, circa 1947, of professional harpsichordist and Carleton University Art Gallery founding patron Frances Barwick (who also happened to be the sister of famed Canadian art supporter and collector Douglas Duncan). Sawyer’s installation—including archival letters, photographs and artworks drawn from Library and Archives Canada, the National Gallery and CUAG—and accompanying musical performance, among other interventions on the historical status quo, by her fictional character Natalie Brettschneider, promises to put fresh critical perspective on the overlooked and underappreciated though often crucial role that female artists and patrons have played in determining the institutional history of Canadian art. Curated by Heather Anderson. – Bryne McLaughlin, managing editor

12. “Idea of the North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris” at the Art Gallery of Ontario from July 2 to September 11, 2016

Comedian, actor, writer and musician Steve Martin co-curated this exhibition, closing January 24 at Los Angeles’s Hammer Museum. But it is also an Art Gallery of Ontario joint, co-curated by that institution’s Andrew Hunter, who was responsible for 2014’s Alex Colville show. Will we see Harris differently now that he’s been at a large American institution? In his LA Times review of the show, Christopher Knight called Harris “good—just not that good.” Yet recent auction results attest to Harris’s reliable popularity in this country. Do Canadians (and comedians) have bad taste? The dialogue around Harris’s legacy has been, and continues to be, fascinating to watch. – David Balzer, deputy editor

13. Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery from February 18 to April 16, 2015

When does inaction become action? It’s an open-ended thought too often under-considered in an age defined by the demands of maximum efficiency and hyper-productivity. And it’s a fundamental concern in the sculpture, video and installation work by Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens pulled together by curator Véronique Leblanc for the micro-survey show “Putting Life to Work.” As they put it: “These projects claim a time and a space for imaginative play and experimentation distinct from the sphere of production and the packaged and controlled leisure time of the work economy. This concern can be linked to previous avant-gardes, anti-capitalist and revolutionary efforts…and a radical re-thinking of the concept of laziness.” – Bryne McLaughlin, managing editor

14. “The Last Art College: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1968–1978” at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia from January 16 to April 3, 2016

This exhibition, which brings to life the book of the same name published by NSCAD’s first president, Garry Neill Kennedy, seeks to examine a pivotal 10-year period of art production in Halifax with the intention of positioning the art college as, according to the press release, “the epicentre of art education—and to a large extent of the post-Minimalist and Conceptual art world itself—in the 1960s and 1970s.” More than 100 objects produced by visiting artists and faculty in classes and at the Lithography Workshop will be on view alongside “archived video interviews, publications [from the famed NSCAD Press] and related ephemera.” Expect pieces by heavy-hitter artists such as Joseph Beuys, Sol LeWitt, Lucy Lippard, John Baldessari, Hans Haacke, Yvonne Rainer, Jenny Holzer and more. The college is currently embroiled in controversy concerning sinking debt, staff layoffs, steep tuition hikes and student protests, so casting a look back at its glorious past will feel all the more poignant and is likely to inspire much debate. – Rosie Prata, copyeditor

15. Karel Funk at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, opening June 18, 2016

Karel Funk’s works are deeply Canadian, though he rarely if ever shows in this county (a phenomenon that is itself deeply Canadian). The self-styled Francisco de Zurbarán of our times, Funk paints the backs of people dressed in outerwear, their crinkled Gore-Tex reminiscent of the cloth of religious habits. It’s sensuous and eerie work—and perhaps a godsend that the Winnipeg Art Gallery is showing it in spring, when our parkas, and the existential dread that comes them, are in temporary storage. – David Balzer, deputy editor

16. “Enter the Fog” at the Rooms from January 30 to April 24, 2016

A fun coastal exchange sees a group of emerging Vancouver-based artists, Maya Beaudry, Julia Feyrer, Tamara Henderson and Tiziana La Melia, head to St. John’s. There, things will get a little weird—in the best way possible. The show boasts multi-referential and multi-sensory installations that will “express the subconscious and reveal the psyche,” which sounds like an ideal way to open 2016. – Caoimhe Morgan-Feir, interim online editor

17. Dana Claxton at the Audain Gallery from January 14 to March 12, 2016

Didn’t get a chance to take in Dana Claxton’s work last spring at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York? You’re in luck: the Audain Gallery is hosting an exhibition this year by the revered Vancouver-based artist that brings together new photographs and video works about Indigenous womanhood and sovereignty. And the programming offers some highlights, too: look out for panel discussion between Monika Kin Gagnon, Richard Hill and Tania Willard in late February. – Caoimhe Morgan-Feir, interim online editor

18. Nicole Kelly Westman at the Walter Phillips Gallery from February 10 to June 5, 2016

Albertans are no strangers to the boom and bust of a resource-dependent economy. Take, for instance, the town of Wayne in the heart of Alberta’s Badlands. All that remains of the once thriving coal-mining community (including a school, hospital, theatre, four tennis courts and baseball diamond) is the Rosedeer Hotel and a listing on Calgary artist Nicole Kelly Westman picks up the story in “Rose, Dear,” a newly commissioned installation that weaves Super 8 film, animation, slide projections and digital footage—shot on location in Wayne and featuring a cast of female protagonists—into a non-linear narrative echo of spiralling fortunes, both past and present. – Bryne McLaughlin, managing editor

19. The new Tate Modern building opening June 17, 2016

The existing Tate Modern has a 99-metre-tall chimney that architects Herzog and de Meuron kept when they converted the building from a 1950s power station to a contemporary-art museum. This summer, the museum will let the public in to experience its new design, also by Herzog and de Meuron, that will see the building raised by 10 storeys to meet the height of the chimney, which isn’t going anywhere. Turbine Hall will also remain unchanged. The addition will allow 60% more space for housing live art, film and installations, as well as a greater variety of options for rooms to present artwork in—and the building’s twisting pyramidal shape will be topped by a terrace on the roof that will allow great views of London’s changing skyline. Tate Modern says that this will be “the most important new cultural building to open in the UK for almost 20 years,” and are planning a complete re-hang of the galleries to greet visitors on the day of its unveiling. – Rosie Prata, copy editor

20. Geoffrey Farmer at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, from April 13 to July 31, 2016

The ICA Boston promises room-sized immersive installations of Geoffrey Farmer’s recent sculptural photo-collage compositions at this survey exhibition, which is perfectly timed to tide us over until the much anticipated reveal of his Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2017. – Rosie Prata, copy editor

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