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News / July 26, 2018

News in Brief: Kanata Cancelled and More

The consequences grow for Robert Lepage’s cultural appropriation, comedians unite to get their art form officially recognized, Jillian Tamaki wins an Eisner Award, and New York’s New Museum comes to Canada
Robert Lepage speaks at an open rehearsal in August 2016. Photo: Facebook. Robert Lepage speaks at an open rehearsal in August 2016. Photo: Facebook.
Robert Lepage speaks at an open rehearsal in August 2016. Photo: Facebook. Robert Lepage speaks at an open rehearsal in August 2016. Photo: Facebook.

Robert Lepage & Cultural Appropriation

Robert Lepage announces cancellation of Kanata project after co-producers withdraw. “In a statement today, Lepage and his production company Ex-Machina say they are nixing planned presentations in Paris due to a lack of financial support,” reports the Globe and Mail. “Lepage and Paris theatre director Ariane Mnouchkine met for nearly six hours last week with more than 30 members of the Indigenous community who had previously signed an open letter in Le Devoir denouncing the production….The show, which claims to explore Canada’s history ‘through the lens of the relationship between white and Aboriginal Peoples,’ did not include any Indigenous actors.” (Globe and Mail)

Lepage, his collaborators and the media need to check their use of language. Critic T’cha Dunleavy, writing in the Montreal Gazette earlier this week, deconstructs how he and others discussing the Kanata and SLAV cases (Lepage included) have reflected bias in use of language: “Lepage, for his part, steered clear of such incendiary language [in a recent CBC interview], but nonetheless let a few things slip during his 49-minute interview with Radio-Canada’s Stéphan Bureau on Saturday, wherein he expressed surprise at the ‘anger’ he has had to confront with the two productions. He made reference to the ‘cordial, firm, clear, well-written,’ open letter from the Indigenous representatives — as if those were all prerequisites for credibility, and with the subtext being that such an approach stands in contrast to one of a different kind.” (Montreal Gazette)

Book Art Wins & Losses

Jillian Tamaki has won an Eisner Award. The prize for her book Boundless which recognizes achievement in comic books. Tamaki is an alum of the Alberta College of Art and Design and has also won a Caldecott Medal and Governor General’s Award for past books. “Tamaki’s previous books SuperMutant Magic Academy and This One Summer also won Eisner Awards in 2016 and 2015 respectively,” CBC notes. (CBC Books)

A release from Montreal’s Drawn & Quarterly has become the first graphic novel ever to be on the Man Booker Prize longlist. Sabrina, by Chicago artist Nick Drnaso, is being praised by Zadie Smith as “the best book — in any medium — I have read about our current moment.” It is competing against a dozen other books. Drawn & Quarterly, which runs two small bookstores in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood, was founded in 1989 to focus exclusively on graphic novels and illustrated books. (Globe and Mail)

But on a sadder note, Toronto’s Koyama Press is closing. “The Toronto-based small publisher will cease operations in 2021,” The Comics Journal reports. “Citing personal and professional reasons, [Annie] Koyama did not characterize the coming closure as a lost financial fight, but as a return to an impetus. For more than a decade, the publisher also sponsored prominent and unknown artists anonymously, enabling specific projects she has mostly kept private. Now, she will expand and push this form of direct financial support without the responsibility of a press occupying most of her time.” (The Comics Journal)

The Art of Humour

Canadian stand-up comedians form union to demand government recognition. “Joke tellers from across the nation have organized into the Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians (CASC). A group of over 600 members, that’s dedicated to advocating on the comics behalf and addressing the barriers they face working in the field,” Daily Hive reports. “The group’s two main complaints are the lack of accessibility to the larger US market without a visa, and what they feel is a lack of recognition of their art form by the Canadian Council of the Arts.” (Daily Hive)

The union’s website has information if you want to find out more. New members of the union can sign up online and find out how to contact their MP to advocate for stand-up comedy. (Canadian Association of Stand-Up Comedians)

International Links

The Minneapolis Institute of Art is presenting what is is calling “the first major museum exhibition exploring the achievements of Indigenous women artists.” Exhibition advisory board members (numbering 22 in total) include Ruth Phillips, Canada Research Chair and professor of art history at Ottawa’s Carleton University, and Carla Hemlock, an artist in Kahnawake. Following its debut at Mia in June 2019, “Hearts of Our People” will travel to the Frist Museum in Nashville, the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa. Lending institutions include the Vancouver Art Gallery and National Gallery of Canada, among others. (press release)

The NuMu heads north. On September 15 New York’s New Museum will present IdeasCity Toronto. Held in partnership with the Bentway, this “day-long event will bring together cultural innovators and creative practitioners from Toronto and beyond to reflect on Toronto as a City of Cities – a web of highly individual neighborhoods, united by a singular municipality.” The previous iteration of IdeasCity was held in Detroit in 2016, and just this week the New Museum named a new curator for the series—V. Mitch McEwen—who will also oversee the upcoming IdeasCity program in New Orleans. (New Museum IdeasCity)

Elaine Cameron-Weir is bringing “subtle grandeur to Dortmunder Kunstverein.” Alberta-raised artist Elaine Cameron-Weir, an alum of the Alberta College of Art and Design, is reviewed in Frieze: “Exhibit from a Dripping Personal Collection’, is so inundated with folds and markers of sexual ecstasy that it is almost impossible not to think of Bernini’s euphoric Teresa,” its critic writes. (Frieze)

Comings & Goings

Laura Jane Ritchie is the new curator at the Kelowna Art Gallery. Before joining the Kelowna Art Gallery, Ritchie was the head of exhibitions and collections management at the Art Gallery of Alberta, where her curatorial projects focused on showcasing Canadian historical works from the permanent collection. There she curated “The Edge: The Abstract and Avant-Garde in Canada,” “Undaunted: Canadian Women Painters of the 19th Century” and “William Townsend: Painting Alberta,” among other exhibitions. Originally from New Brunswick, Laura Jane Ritchie holds an MA in Art History from Western University. She is a fellow of the Getty Leadership Institute’s NextGen, Executive Education for the Next Generation of Museum Leaders. A public event welcoming her will be held at the Kelowna Art Gallery on August 16 at 6 p.m. (Kelowna Art Gallery)

Heather Rigg joins Gallery 44 as curator of exhibitions and public programs. Rigg previously worked at Contact Photography Festival where she curated “An unassailable and monumental dignity,” among other gallery exhibitions and public art installations. Rigg holds an MA in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson University and is also co-founder of ma ma, a not-for-profit contemporary art space. (Gallery 44)

Jennifer Czajkowski is the new deputy director for engagement at the Royal Ontario Museum. “In this role, Czajkowski will be responsible for designing and implementing strategies that deepen and enhance the Museum experience for visitors of all ages,” says a press release. Purview includes exhibitions, gallery experiences and interpretation, public programs and events, K-12 and adult learning, and community engagement Czajkowski joins the ROM from the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), where, most recently, she held the position of Vice President, Learning and Audience Engagement. (Royal Ontario Museum)

Public Art

There are 10 new murals in Moncton. The Inspire Festival earlier this month has left the city with new works by France’s MAYE, New Brunswick’s Gabrielle Brown and Chelsea Gauvin, Ontario’s Mique Michelle, the UK’s Conzo & Glöbel and the US’s Miles Toland, among others. (press release)

Edmonton also has a bright new mural by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel. The six-storey mural in the Old Strathcona neighbourhood was commissioned after “Edmonton’s Michael Maxxis and Fish Griwkowsky were able to raise more than $120,000 for the mural to be painted,” the CBC reports. (CBC Edmonton)

“Give Toronto’s most hated new piece of public art a second chance.” That’s the plea by Toronto Star art critic Murray Whyte regarding Three Points Where Two Lines Meet, a new (and criticized) sculpture by Canadian art duo Daniel Young and Christian Giroux. (Toronto Star)

And In Case You Missed It

Artists have created an open letter against a Jordan Peterson talk at Arts Commons in Calgary. (Canadian Art)

Steve McQueen will debut his next film at TIFF. (Canadian Art)

The BMO 1st Art! winners have been announced. (Canadian Art)


Leah Sandals

Leah Sandals is a writer and editor based in Toronto. Her arts journalism has appeared in the Toronto Star, National Post and Globe and Mail, among other publications, and her creative work has been published in Prism, Room and Freefall. She can be reached via