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Geoffrey Farmer: From Poor Materials to Rich Themes

Vancouverite Geoffrey Farmer has made a well-earned international name for himself by turning Arte Povera materials, like brooms, mops, Post-its and ripped-out book pages, into rich meditations on the biggest of the big themes—history, psychology, philosophy and the like. Though this deftness was most popularly rendered in Farmer’s 2007 work The Last Two Million Years, which revamped an abandoned 1970s Reader’s Digest tome into a sprawling sculpture, this appeal remains at the heart of Farmer works past and present. Now, with “The Surgeon and the Photographer,” a show at Catriona Jeffries, fans can get a look at the artist’s most recent explorations. Despite the fact that many parts of this Vancouver installation—like its hundreds of collaged puppet-figures—were previously displayed as part of Farmer’s work The Surgeon and the Photographer at the National Gallery’s “Nomads” exhibition, the Jeffries show also features a new, accompanying video. Furthermore, this exhibition also acts as a reminder to keep an eye out for one of Farmer’s newest ventures, a year-long project called Every Letter In The Alphabet, which manifests in “commissioning, gathering and producing a wide variety of text-based works,” including the operation of an art space at 1875 Powell Street. Whatever Farmer’s doing, and wherever he’s doing it, it’s always worth a look—and an intensive one at that. (274 E 1st Ave, Vancouver BC)

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