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Features / January 2, 2019

What to See in 2019

Our editors round up 2019’s most anticipated exhibitions and events
Nep Sidhu, <em>Quarzarz on 23rd</em> (video still), 2018. Courtesy the artist and Shabazz Palaces. Nep Sidhu, Quarzarz on 23rd (video still), 2018. Courtesy the artist and Shabazz Palaces.

Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts

Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston

January 5 to April 7, 2019

Audio exhibitions can be notoriously difficult to take in, but this exhibition, curated by Candice Hopkins (Tlingit) and Dylan Robinson (Stó:lō), attempts to avoid that with activations by a range of performers, players and publics alongside the material culture that records notation. Newly commissioned scores and “sounds for decolonization” test how sound works can act as tools in the service of decolonization, and with an accumulative approach and more than a dozen artists, it will bear repeat visits.


Hexsa’a̱m: To Be Here Always

Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver

January 11 to April 7, 2019

“We must not seek to erase the influence of globalizing Western culture,” says artist Marianne Nicolson in the texts for “Hexsa’a̱m,”  “but master its forces selectively, as part of a wider Canadian and global community, for the health of the land and the cultures it supports. The embodied practice of ceremonial knowledge relates to artistic experience—not in the aesthetic sense, but in the performative: through gestures that consolidate and enhance knowledge for positive change.” Accordingly, “Hexsa’a̱m” offers research and materials from a collaborative exchange enacted between 15 artists of settler and First Nations descent at Kingcome Inlet in Summer 2018. The artists include Tania Willard, Althea Thauberger and Scott Benesiinaabandan; the media include weaving, language and song; and the reasons to visit are many.


Valérie Blass

Oakville Galleries

January 27 to March 17, 2019

We are always impressed by the humour, range and aplomb of Valérie Blass’s sculptures. In January, the veteran Montreal sculptor and winner of the 2017 Gershon Iskowitz Prize will open “The Mime, the Model and the Dupe,” an Oakville survey of 10 years of her work. Overall, Oakville Galleries has a tremendous lineup this this year, including a spring show by Rochelle Goldberg and Rebecca Brewer, fall exhibitions by Laurie Kang and Georgia Dickie, and a summer group show, guest curated by Daisy Desrosiers, that will bring together works by Kapwani Kiwanga, Jesse Chun and Beverly Buchanan, among others.


Nep Sidhu

Mercer Union, Toronto

February 9 to March 23, 2019

Curated by cheyanne turions, “Medicine for a Nightmare (they called, we responded)” will be the first solo exhibition in the city for interdisciplinary artist Nep Sidhu. Recognized for his elaborate textile works, his fashion design and his collaboration with Shabazz Palaces, Sidhu here will take the 1984 massacre of Sikh people in India as a point of departure for new sculpture and tapestry, as well as an artist’s publication. In particular, he will foreground the kitchen space and the spiritual role it plays in community. The exhibition will also be restaged at the Esker Foundation in Calgary this fall.


Chantal Akerman

MOCA, Toronto

February 14 to April 14, 2019

A rare opportunity to experience two works from different points in renowned filmmaker and artist Chantal Akerman’s career: In the Mirror (1971) and NOW, originally produced for the 2015 Venice Biennale and which opened the same year of Akerman’s death. Organized by film curator Andréa Picard, this exhibition is said to represent the first time that Akerman’s work will be shown in a Canadian museum, and it will also include a retrospective survey that will screen at the TIFF Cinematheque in fall 2019.


Valie Export

VOX Centre de l’image contemporaine, Montreal

February 15 to March 27, 2019

For more than a decade, VOX executive and artistic director Marie-Josée Jean has led a program of exhibitions and related documentary projects designed to re-evaluate key moments in the legacy of conceptual art within Quebec and elsewhere. (The gallery’s recent publication of a pair of books devoted to Bill Vazan’s Worldline project from the late 1960s/early 1970s, and another on the work of Serge Tousignant, are good examples.) This touring exhibition, curated by Sabine Folie, director of the Valie Export Centre in Linz, continues that mandate, gathering conceptual and media works by Export alongside archival sketches, letters, photos and notes to reveal the working process and guiding principles of this iconic Austrian artist. Also on view will be “03.23.03 (1977),” which revisits an international mail art/performance/publication project organized by France Morin, Chantal Pontbriand and Normand Thériault in Montreal in 1977.


Manif d’art 9

Various locations, Quebec City

February 16 to April 21, 2019

Curator Jonathan Watkins of Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, UK, leads this ninth edition of the Quebec City biennial, themed “Small Between the Stars, Large Against the Sky.” “This edition of the biennial focuses on the continuities between art and everyday life,” Watkins writes, “no matter where and how one experiences them.” To that end, Manif sprawls out from its main exhibition venue at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec to parallel solo and group shows and performances spread across a network of artist-run centres and public spaces in the city. Works by nearly 20 local, national and international artists—including Manasie Akpaliapik, Vija Celmins, Jim Holyoak and Matt Shane, Dinh Q. Lê, Britta Marakatt-Labba, Meryl McMaster, Haroon Mirza, Cornelia Parker, Tomás Saraceno, Amélie Laurence Fortin, Felipe Castelblanco, Hannah Claus and Shimabuku, among others—promise to examine, as Watkins puts it, “the apprehension of where we are, against and between the enormities often taken for granted.”


Deanna Bowen

Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver

April 5 to June 9, 2019

The importance of Deanna Bowen’s long-standing research into her family lineage, and into histories, many erased and neglected, of Black communities, was reinforced to Toronto audiences in one of 2017’s exhibition highlights, “On Trial The Long Doorway” at Mercer Union. In 2019, an extension of this project comes to Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery, the result of a 2018 residency Bowen did at Western Front. As attested to in a video Bowen recently presented at the Banff Centre, Bowen’s own genealogy extends to Western Canada, a place where Blackness is often marginalized. As Vancouver continues to think through its Northeast False Creek Plan, in particular the demolition of the Georgia Viaduct—the construction of which, in the 1960s, razed Hogan’s Alley, the epicentre of Vancouver’s mid-20th-century Black community—it seems a fitting time for the city to contemplate Bowen’s vital work.


Yoko Ono

DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montreal

Opens April 24, 2019

It’s been 50 years since Yoko Ono and John Lennon staged the second of their iconic Bed-Ins for Peace at Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel on May 26, 1969. Ono returns to Montreal this spring with the two-part exhibition “GROWING FREEDOM,” co-curated by DHC/ART’s Cheryl Sim and Astrup Fearnley Museet director Gunnar B. Kvaran. Part one of the exhibition focuses on Ono’s conceptual “instruction” works, while part two gathers a spectrum of collaborative projects by Lennon and Ono, who at 85 years old remains an enduring force for international peace. At the time of writing, the original John Lennon Yoko Ono Suite (recently renovated to include a virtual-reality reprise of the 1969 Bed-In) at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth remains available for the opening night.


Let’s Talk About Sex, Bb

Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston

April 27 to December 1, 2019

The year 2018 saw the return of relational curation, writing and art. But don’t get it twisted: relational art in 2018 wasn’t a cheap appropriation of Nicholas Bourriaud—it was a reappropriation. It was an awakening, a centering, of good love logics that have existed in non-European philosophies since time immemorial. On the tails of the relational art influx in 2018, Ociciwan core member Erin Sutherland and independent curator Carina Magazzeni will bring together several to-be-announced artists, coming from a variety of practices and life experiences, to continue this topical conversation about sxxy, relational art.



Canada Pavilion, Venice Biennale

May 11 to November 24, 2019

There is always the dream of what a Venice Biennale exhibition could be and then, often, its (harrowing) reality, but for now, the prospect of Inuit film and multimedia collective Isuma’s upcoming project at a newly restored Canada Pavilion feels fully dreamy. And well-deserved. And (unfortunately, but unsurprisingly) long overdue: this is the first time Inuit work will represent Canada at a Venice Biennale. It is particularly exciting to contemplate how Isuma has worked for decades, and how this digital, inter-longitudinal and -latitudinal approach challenges settler colonial ideas of what Inuit art could or should be. Indeed, you can learn so much about what Isuma does on your own screen, even if you can’t get to Venice: hours of brilliant narrative-film and documentary work is available at, one of the largest hubs for Indigenous-language multimedia art in the WWWorld.


Ruth Cuthand

Remai Modern, Saskatoon

March 13 to July 14, 2019

It might seem strange that one of the most anticipated 2019 shows in Saskatchewan is actually a project curated from the Remai’s collections of trading and early dress paintings by Saskatoon-based artist Ruth Cuthand. But strategic curation makes for powerful interventions, especially when occurring on the objects Canadians hold dear. Fred Wilson’s intervention on the Maryland Historical Society, “Mining the Museum,” famously exposed often erased histories of the transatlantic slave trade in Baltimore, and in a similar vein, Ruth Cuthand has not been quiet about the inequities in Saskatoon’s art scene that need to be exposed. (Perhaps most famously, this happened when she called out that same art scene at the Remai conference Determined by the river.) Cuthand has something to say about her experience as an Indigenous woman navigating a colonial, bureaucratic art machine that sought only to dispose of and silence her. And it’s worth being there for it.


Morehshin Allahyari

MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina

May 24 to August 25, 2019

Curated by John G. Hampton, Allahyari’s new media installation, consisting of four shrines to dark goddesses, monstrous figures and female and non-binary Jinn of Middle Eastern origin has a lot to offer: nation-2-nation non-binary solidarity (and one connected to non-European mythologies and knowledge systems), sea-punk, dark, witchy, goddesses, 3D-printed talismans that problematize hierarchies of traditional and modern materials, and more. The 2019 run of “She Who Sees the Unknown” at the MacKenzie marks its first showing in Canada. Allahyari will continue her series evoking marginalized Middle Eastern goddesses to confront their overshadowing by white goddesses and colonialism at the level of propagated and popularized discourses. The goddesses evoked, summoned and given offerings to in “She Who Sees the Unknown” are dark goddesses, chosen for the ominous powers they evoke and for the ways those powers relate to contemporary issues related to colonialism. How metal.


Billy Gauthier

The Rooms, St. John’s

Projected to open in June

In October 2016, Labrador Inuit artist Billy Gauthier didn’t eat for nearly two weeks. The reason? He was on a hunger strike to protest methylmercury risks associated with flooding at the Muskrat Falls hydro development. “As an Inuit artist, the land is where I get my inspiration,” Gauthier said in a video post to Facebook during the strike. “My culture is me. Take away my culture, and you take me away. Take away my culture, I am nothing.” Today, Gauthier continues to celebrate his culture in many ways—including through sculpture, a medium he has been working in since he was a teenager. This exhibition at the Rooms Provincial Art Gallery is well deserved, and well anticipated.


Carmen Papalia with Heather Kai Smith

Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff

June 15 to August 24, 2019

In the past few years, the work of Vancouver artist Carmen Papalia has been presented at the Guggenheim in New York, the Tate in Liverpool, and the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, among other locales. Along the way, Papalia has encouraged individuals and organizations, as he puts it, to, “unlearn visual primacy and resist support options that promote ableist concepts of normalcy.” Sometimes that takes the form of his Open Access principles and workshops; sometimes it comes via a group walk led by a person using a white cane, as in Blind Field Shuttle; and sometimes, as in White Cane Amplified, it is a walk where a white cane is replaced by a megaphone. At the Walter Phillips Gallery, Papalia’s practice will take the form of his first-ever collaboration with Vancouver artist Heather Kai Smith: the result promises to be an animation and series of works on paper that visually interpret the concept of Open Access.


Brian Jungen

Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

From June 20, 2019

Dane-Zaa and Swiss artist Brian Jungen most famously deconstructs Nikes to form Northwest Coast masks and Plains headdresses, but he has also used meat freezers as plinths, stacked golf bags to form totem poles and made a whale skeleton out of plastic deck chairs. That spectacular latter piece, Cetology (2002) will be included in this survey curated by Kitty Scott (who has a long-standing relationship with the artist). Film work and Jungen’s archive, stored in hundreds of Nike shoeboxes, will also be presented. In light of renewed concerns over climate change and its attendant, extractivist junk, as well as a cross-country institutional re-centering of Indigenous creative practices, there seems no better time to revisit the work of one of Canada’s most internationally acclaimed artists.


Daniel Buren

Plug In ICA, Winnipeg

August 16 to September 3, 2019

As part of STAGES 2019, a public sculpture and performance biennial in Winnipeg, Plug In ICA has asked French conceptual artist Daniel Buren to remount Limited Time Only!, a site-specific project initially produced in Toronto in 1981, in which Buren wallpapered—affordably, and by request of residents—apartments in the St. James Town projects. This time, Buren will re-perform the project in the Winnipeg apartment block Chateau 100. The re-staging acknowledges some enduring art-world realities: namely, how access, labour, housing and geographies are converging systems that continue to define much of how art circulates in 2019. Other confirmed artists in STAGES include Raymond Boisjoly, FASTWURMS, Silke-Otto Knapp, Joar Nango, Andrea Roberts and Kenneth LaValle.


Facing Claude Cahun & Marcel Moore

Ottawa Art Gallery

September 14, 2019 to February 9, 2020

This exhibition promises a critical conversation between Cahun and Moore’s 20th-century collaborative practice—now genderqueer canon—and contemporary artists (including Dayna Danger, Zanele Muholi and Mark Clintberg, among others) who interrogate identity by way of authorship and self-portraiture. It’s also organized in collaboration with the Jersey Heritage Trust in the UK, which houses the largest archive of Cahun’s artistic work. At a time when queer and POC identities are continually and routinely policed, and when practices of self-imaging can constitute a form of radical activism, the exhibition concept is germane, sensitive and sobering.


Toronto Biennial

Various sites, Toronto

September 21 to December 1, 2019

The popularity of biennials might be on the wane, but the buzz around Toronto’s new biennial seems genuine, if uncertain—a truly Toronto response. The organizers have taken some smart first steps by gaining ground-up support and partnerships, hiring curators Candice Hopkins and Tairone Bastien for at least the first two iterations and letting the artists—long-time Toronto residents and international artists alike—lead conversations about how their work will tackle the overlapping histories of Toronto’s industrial waterfront. New Mineral Collective (Emilija Škarnulytė and Tanya Busse)’s aesthetic interpretations of mining industries, Caroline Monnet’s cinematic abstractions, Susan Schuppli’s extensively researched environmental forensics, Althea Thauberger’s documentary-informed social practice and Luis Jacob’s deep, idiosyncratic knowledge of Toronto’s social history will all complement the idea of “being in relation” that the biennial is forming itself around.


Hajra Waheed

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto

September 28, 2019 to January 5, 2020

The exhibition’s title, “Hold Everything Dear,” is borrowed from a collection of John Berger’s essays and it says a lot about the contested politics of the present; it reminds us to hold on to what we know. After being widely collected and shown internationally, including at the 2017 Venice Biennale, Waheed’s first institutional solo exhibition in Toronto, long overdue, is slated to include over a hundred new works on paper, a video installation and a monumental kinetic sculpture. It will be a welcome opportunity to see the ways her practice has developed over the past several years—folding aesthetics and politics into abstract forms that subtly reveal the divisive ethos of power and the perpetual cycles of violence it produces.


Sybil Andrews

Glenbow Museum, Calgary

Opening October 2019

Sybil Andrews (1898–1992) worked in a fairly humble medium: linocut printmaking. But her work is increasingly recognized as valuable, whether that be by the market (her print Speedway sold for £60,000 at a UK auction in 2017) or by art historians (another print from that edition happens to be in the collection of MoMA). Andrews was born and raised working-class in the UK, where she welded planes during the wars, and she spent much of her life after 1947 in Campbell River, BC. Yet it is Calgary’s Glenbow Museum that is the main study centre for her artwork, holding more than a thousand items from her archive. The Glenbow mounted Andrews’s first major exhibition in 1982, and in 2019 it will mount another important focus on her prints, bringing her art to a new generation ready to learn from the artist’s facility with pattern, economy and movement.


NSCAD Lithography Workshop: Contemporary Editions

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax

November 9, 2019 to April 5, 2020

After being inactive for more than 40 years, the NSCAD Lithography Workshop will reopen this summer in anticipation of an exhibition at the AGNS from November 9 through April 5, 2020. Established in 1969, the workshop captured an era of conceptual and ephemeral art-making, hosting visiting artists such as John Baldessari, Michael Snow and Joyce Wieland. The workshop will now invite a compelling lineup of contemporary Canadian artists, including Sonny Assu, Shary Boyle, Amy Malbeuf, Ed Pien, Derek Sullivan, Ericka Walker, Brendan Fernandes and Shuvinai Ashoona. The program will culminate in the exhibition “NSCAD Lithography Workshop: Contemporary Editions,” which will feature the final suite of lithograph prints accompanied by video snapshots of each artist’s experience in the workshop, as well as select original-edition prints from NSCAD’s permanent collection.

This article was corrected on January 7 and 8, 2019. The original, based on prior press material, indicated the Toronto Biennial would end December 20. And it listed artists who were tentative, but not yet confirmed, for an Oakville Galleries group show. It also, in one instance, misspelled Sybil Andrews’s first name, and indicated she settled in Vancouver Island, rather than Campbell River.