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Must-Sees This Week: September 5 to 11, 2013

There are lots of great shows opening this week, and other art events happening too. Here are our best bets.

“Witnesses: Art and Canada’s Indian Residential Schools,” opening at the Belkin this week, isn’t afraid to take on a tough theme: artists who have produced work arising from the history of some infamously abusive institutions. Featuring art by Alex Janvier, Carl Beam, Beau Dick, Jamasie Pitseolak, Skeena Reece, Adrian Stimson and others, it coincides with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada BC National Event that will take place in Vancouver September 18 to 21. Find out more when the show opens September 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. On a different note of reconciliation, Laiwan hands out advice from elders, as well as sage for burning and cleansing, at the Burnaby Art Gallery’s outdoor kiosk; a reception takes place September 7 from 2 to 4 p.m. Elsewhere, Jonah Samson debuts images based on 1950s eBay crime negatives at Wil Aballe Art Projects on September 5 from 7 to 9 p.m.; Jim Breukelman’s new experiments in photo assemblage open at Republic Gallery on September 6 from 6 to 9 p.m.; and Lynne Marsh’s film from the latest Canadian Biennial shows at Or Gallery starting September 6 at 8 p.m.

International art star Ai Weiwei, who is not allowed to travel outside of China, participates in a Skype conversation tonight (September 5) at the AGO at 8 p.m. TIFF 2013 also officially begins today with some great art content; check out our picks roundup for more details. Elsewhere on the film-art front, the Art Gallery of York University brings Egyptian artist Wael Shawky’s Documenta 13 hit Cabaret Crusades to its space; in it, Shawky recreates stories of the Christian Crusades through Arab eyes. It opens September 11 from 6 to 9 p.m., with Shawky delivering an artist talk September 9 at 7 p.m. at the Drake.  Also notable are new photographs by young Vancouver-born, New York–based artist and designer Sara Cwynar opening at Cooper Cole on September 6 from 6 to 10 p.m.; an unexpected series in ceramics by local artist/architect An Te Liu debuting September 7 at the Gardiner Museum; and a thorny-issue-laden series of works appropriated from Sri Lankan artists by rising Brit Christopher Kulendran Thomas opening at Mercer Union on September 6 at 7 p.m.

Mois de la Photo—guest curated this year by the UK’s Paul Wombell—begins today (September 5) at venues across the city, featuring 25 exhibitions of work by Jon Rafman, Mona Hatoum, Penelope Umbrico, Tomoko Sawada and Trevor Paglen, among others. The public launch takes place tonight at the Darling Foundry at 6 p.m. Elsewhere, Cynthia Girard and Alexandre David debut new work—a tribute to unicorns (!) and an architectural intervention, respectively—at Parisian Laundry on September 5 from 6 to 9 p.m.; Benoit Aquin, known for his environmental photographs, opens a show of images on hunting on September 7 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Galerie Hugues Charbonneau; and work by Wanda Koop and Laurent Craste opens at Galerie Division on September 7 from 3 to 5 p.m.

The Glenbow continues its look back at Calgary’s contemporary artistic history in “Made in Calgary: The 1980s,” curated by Jeffrey Spalding and featuring art by Chris Cran, Gisele Amantea and others. It opens September 7 at museum. Elsewhere, emerging artist Yvonne Kustec debuts sculptural works based on femininity and (yes) the Calgary Stampede at Pith Gallery on September 6 from 7 to 10 p.m. Fans of ceramics may want to take a road trip to the opening of Medalta’s first international cup show on September 6 at 7 p.m. It’s partly a fundraiser for Medalta, which was affected by the Alberta flooding in June, as well as a chance to see variations on a theme by various practitioners.

For three decades, Halifax photographer George Steeves has taken provocative black and white portraits of his intimate friends as well as himself. It makes him an interesting choice to curate “August Sander: Objective Romantic” at MSVU Art Gallery. The late Sander, of course, was concerned not so much with how people presented themselves privately, but publicly, aiming to create inventories of people in different professions and social classes. The show begins on September 7. Elsewhere, “Entangled Particles: Four Contemporary Chinese Artists” has an opening reception at the SMU Art Gallery on September 6 at 8 p.m. and the recently opened Rita McKeough installation at the Dalhousie Art Gallery is also worth a look.

These picks are drawn from material sent to at least two days prior to publication. Listings of art exhibitions, openings and events can be found at

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