News Roundup: Artists Withdraw from Art Gallery of Alberta Biennial Show, Cite Lack of Black Representation – Canadian Art
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News / October 15, 2020

News Roundup: Artists Withdraw from Art Gallery of Alberta Biennial Show, Cite Lack of Black Representation

Plus: A new director for the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, an audit of Black artists’ shows in Calgary, and the winners of this year’s VIVA Awards
An interior view of the Art Gallery of Alberta. Photo: Mack Male. CC BY-SA 2.0. An interior view of the Art Gallery of Alberta. Photo: Mack Male. CC BY-SA 2.0.

Artists withdraw from Borderline biennial, citing that the Art Gallery of Alberta has never included a Black artist in its biennials. Amy Malbeuf and Justin Waddell withdrew their work and participation from the biennial—co-presented by the AGA and Remai Modern—before it opened. The withdrawals of work were reported by CBC and the Edmonton Journal after the Art Gallery of Alberta issued a statement on September 24 on the fact that Black artists had never been included in its biennials of contemporary art, and after the CBC posted a related story on that.

An audit on Black representation in Calgary’s art scene has been published. The audit, conducted by oualie frost with Alicia Buates Mckenzie, Michaela Bridgemohan, Uii Savage and Levin Ifko was released September 20 on Instagram and Google Docs. “The purpose of this audit is to provide concrete data regarding the representation (or lack thereof) of Black artists in Calgary over the past ten years (2010–2019),” the document states. “While we recognize the inherent difficulties faced by other racialized groups in the art community, notably Indigenous artists, we notice a distinct lack of Blackness in the arts, both shows and leadership.”

Stéphane Aquin has been appointed director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Aquin currently holds the position of chief curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, and he will commence his new post this November. Aquin was formerly a curator at the MMFA, which is also about to conduct a review of its governance structure as recommended by a Quebec government report prompted by the recent dismissal of former director Nathalie Bondil, and related issues.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto has received $5.7 million from Castlepoint, its landlord. This completes the museum’s $25 million capital campaign launched in 2017, says a release.

Lucie Chan, Cindy Mochizuki and Tania Willard are the winners of this year’s VIVA Awards in British Columbia. Each receives $15,000 from the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation for the Visual Arts. In a related announcement, Dorothy Woodend has won the $5,000 Max Wyman Award for Critical Writing. As part of the award, Woodend has nominated fellow culture writer at The Tyee, Paloma Pacheco, to receive an emerging writer prize of a residency at the Banff Centre. The Max Wyman Awards are jointly administered by the Max Wyman Award Committee and the Yosef Wosk Family Foundation.

Artist, critic and writer R.M. Vaughan is missing, and authorities are seeking information about his whereabouts. “Late Tuesday afternoon, Fredericton police posted a call for help on social media, saying that Vaughan had last been seen Monday in the 500 block of Aberdeen Street,” CBC reports. “They do not suspect foul play, but they said they want to locate the 55-year-old author, or at least, verify that he’s safe.”

Mi’kmaq artist Pauline Young creates flag to fly above Owens Art Gallery. “Installed on the roof of the Owens Art Gallery, which is located in a 19th-century, beaux-arts building [at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick], Wabanaki/People of the Dawn is an important assertion of Mi’kmaq sovereignty,” says an Akimbo release. “Every year, the Owens will commission a Mi’kmaq artist to design a new flag for both the flagpole and its permanent collection.… This project thus serves as an ongoing land acknowledgement that honours L’nuk (Mi’kmaq) as the traditional owners and custodians of the unceded lands upon which the Owens was built.”