THE CURATOR

· Remuer ciel et terre / Crack the Sky
· Brief Biography & Résumé
· Wayne Baerwaldt on CISM-FM, May 15, 2007 (mp3 audio)

Remuer ciel et terre / Crack the Sky

The 2007 Biennale de Montréal Crack the Sky presents new and recent work from more than fifty artists and artist groups from across Canada and abroad.

Crack the Sky promotes the curatorial visions of several other contributors such as curators Louise Déry at the Galerie de l'UQAM who had curated an exceptional show of recent and new work by David Altmejd; Ray Cronin at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia whose exhibition of recent intermedia sculpture by Graeme Patterson is a delight; Heather Smith at the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery who had curated Dana Claxton's Sitting Bull and the Moose Jaw Sioux; Sylvie Gilbert whose expansive exhibition, Comic Craze, was produced for the Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre for the Arts and then scheduled for the Liane and Danny Taran Gallery at the Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts, under the expert guidance of Director/Curator, Renee Baert; Meredith Carruthers of the Liane and Danny Taran Gallery at the Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts, who had curated Montreal Comic City; Alexandre Lemieux of High Food and Bruno Ricciardi-Rigault of Laïka who co-curated with us the performance events with Peaches, Lesbians on Ecstasy, Carole Pope, Les Georges Leningrad, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Julie Doucet and Dominique Pétrin's project Le Pet Shop Ju-Do at La Centrale/Galerie Powerhouse, Paper Rad at Société des arts technologiques [SAT] and the presentation of Daft Punk's Electroma at the Cinémathèque québécoise; visiting Central Asian scholar at the Université de Montréal and Université Laval, Boris Chukhovich, who presents a selection of recent video work from Central Asia entitled Return of the Metaphor; and 2boys.tv, comprised of Montreal-based Aaron Pollard and Stephen Lawson, whose investigation creates a new, transitive form of cabaret performance.

Crack the Sky also invited the editorial support of PUBLIC. The York University-based cultural journal has published thematic issues for more than twenty years. Curatorial themes taken up in the Biennale can be found in the editorial directions of PUBLIC over the years.

Crack the Sky aims to challenge viewers with a range of propositions, driven by the ideas of mostly Canadian cultural producers and shaped by new media. The majority of the artworks are generally interrelated by an overarching genre hybridity and an elliptical return to shifting border concepts.

The cultural production presented in Crack the Sky is formidable as an abstract cross-section of contemporary art. Artists such as Stephen Andrews, BGL, Lynne Cohen, Beth Derbyshire, Brian Jungen and My Barbarian are well known for their engagement in the fragmenting state of cultural identity politics that have superseded any identifiable, current movement. Others, such as Scoli Acosta, Janice Kerbel and Numa are emerging in very different critical arenas, equally divested of participation in any particular style or art movement. It should also be noted that a growing number of works are the result of collaborations among two or more artists: Julie Doucet and Dominique Pétrin, Lesbians on Ecstasy, Les Georges Leningrad, Paper Rad, Pil and Galia Kollectiv and 2boys.tv. Such collectives engage in artistic sharing and openness around creative production that facilitates a crossover activity between disciplines such as art, music, theatre, architecture, and the social and natural sciences.

Some of the artists in Crack the Sky oare no longer concerned with the permanent form of a work but are instead focusing on the immaterial and the invisible, offering unique interpretations of the constructed realities of daily life. They vary considerably from the spatially complex sculptures and photographs of Evan Penny and Michael Awad to the perspectival drawings of Annie Pootoogook and Will Kwan's highly structured analytical research on theChinese diaspora. Geoffrey Farmer adapts and reinvents his Puppet Kit Personality Workshop concept from the detritus found in and adjacent to his exhibition space. The undertaking includes the performative and rebellious visual poetry of Peaches, the elegant paintings of Paul P. alongside the raw stencilled forms on canvas by Paulo Whitaker, the collective actions and recordings of Lesbians on Ecstasy and My Barbarian, and the ambiguous artworld associations of Carole Pope and Les Georges Leningrad. Each artist and group has navigated the demarcated lines of authority that determine the material and psychological integrity of a culturally defined entity to acknowledge issues of inside and outside, legal and illegal, fact and fiction. For example, the digital photographs of Scott McFarland can isolate, magnify and make benign any cultured landscape's dark impulses. David Hoffos likewise inhabits and remolds a world of hybridity. Iran Do Espirito Santo's site-specific installations explore the seemingly uncontested spaces between the concrete and the abstract. Christine Davis' installations describe a state of being that dismisses the complex intricacies of a cultural context.

A range of artists in Crack the Sky engage subject matter to suggest positions of dissent or resistance to the homogenizing effect of globalism and its attendant mainstream values. With their geodesic dome installation, Noam Gonick and Luis Jacob imagine an alternative form of resistance whose strength is found in appropriated imagery. Scott Treleaven's tentative young post-punk subjects embody a noble, independent character, with their tattooed arms and chests, pierced body parts and defiant posing.

Current conceptions of the "end of ideology" express the view that in contemporary society the class struggles that punctuated nineteenth-century European history, have today dissolved. In the face of this tendency, artists such as Dana Claxton, Jeff Funnell, Ignacio Iturria, Sarah Anne Johnson, Brian Jungen, Will Kwan, Kent Monkman, Annie Pootoogook and Susan Turcot, remind viewers of the ubiquity of social conflict. Susan Turcot's dedicated front line reportage in the form of drawings, describe a narrowing strip of Boreal forest north of Quebec, while Dana Claxton proposes another form of reportage that reinterprets the maligned history of her Sioux ancestors after the late nineteenth-century Wounded Knee massacre. Turcot and Claxton reveal what the dominant resource exploitation companies in the Americas are best known for: violence. Ryan Sluggett's paintings and animation seek to illustrate the primitive within ourselves and bemoan the failure of affluence to civilize. Theo Sims' The Candahar is a bar where the young will verbally deplore the violence of elders and are tempted, after so many pints, to use violence against them.

This implied violence and resistance plays off the seeming vulnerability and transcendent qualities of the many depictions of human figures. They appear to linger as survivors in Funnell's drawings documenting the judicial investigation of the death of Manitoba aboriginal chief J. J. Harper. Stephen Andrews' graphic vision in hundreds of drawings and an animation is of some incomprehensible account of violence and, in the work of Iturria, among the archetypal city's modernist office and apartment buildings located anywhere between Montevideo and Toronto's St. James Town. The most abstract curtain by Virgil Marti, composed of strings of translucent replicas of human bones, the emotionally vacuous institutional interior depicted in a Lynne Cohen photograph, the rhetoric of painting by Eleanor Bond, Numa and Paulo Whitaker are informed by their mass-media reality. Most are laden with dissent, situated somewhere between the established world of political conformity and the vision of an underworld of violent revolution, freedom fighting and disobedience.

Crack the Sky stretches the boundaries of various media and overlapping disciplines from visual art to biology. The latter form can simulate an updated version of a cabinet of curiosities for which the act of drawing has proven to be a common porthole for investigations. Several artists invigorate approaches to traditional drawing techniques and reconsider the act of drawing by incorporating various unconventional media, for example the representations of human forms and clothing rendered in felt in Luanne Martineau's soft sculptures. Chris Cran's melding of painting, drawing, sculpture and installation is unparalleled in his ability to reposition sly references to Duchamp and William S. Burroughs. Incorporating a series of visual and aural cues, Jesper Just seduces and deceives his audience with the most common cinematic devices. Julie Doucet constructs her neo-French language poems from an alphabet she hand-cuts from newspapers and pastes to construct new word associations, while Bill Smith's sculptures can simulate environmental dilemmas or suggest biological forms to be deciphered.

This implied violence and resistance plays off the seeming vulnerability and transcendent qualities of the many depictions of human figures. They appear to linger as survivors in Funnell's drawings documenting the judicial investigation of the death of Manitoba aboriginal chief J. J. Harper. Stephen Andrews' graphic vision in hundreds of drawings and an animation is of some incomprehensible account of violence and, in the work of Iturria, among the archetypal city's modernist office and apartment buildings located anywhere between Montevideo and Toronto's St. James Town. The most abstract curtain by Virgil Marti, composed of strings of translucent replicas of human bones, the emotionally vacuous institutional interior depicted in a Lynne Cohen photograph, the rhetoric of painting by Eleanor Bond, Numa and Paulo Whitaker are informed by their mass-media reality. Most are laden with dissent, situated somewhere between the established world of political conformity and the vision of an underworld of violent revolution, freedom fighting and disobedience.

Crack the Sky stretches the boundaries of various media and overlapping disciplines from visual art to biology. The latter form can simulate an updated version of a cabinet of curiosities for which the act of drawing has proven to be a common porthole for investigations. Several artists invigorate approaches to traditional drawing techniques and reconsider the act of drawing by incorporating various unconventional media, for example the representations of human forms and clothing rendered in felt in Luanne Martineau's soft sculptures. Chris Cran's melding of painting, drawing, sculpture and installation is unparalleled in his ability to reposition sly references to Duchamp and William S. Burroughs. Incorporating a series of visual and aural cues, Jesper Just seduces and deceives his audience with the most common cinematic devices. Julie Doucet constructs her neo-French language poems from an alphabet she hand-cuts from newspapers and pastes to construct new word associations, while Bill Smith's sculptures can simulate environmental dilemmas or suggest biological forms to be deciphered.

Crack the Sky, representing CIAC's latest profile of a burgeoning Canadian contemporary art scene, moves both within and beyond imaginary and real borders. It represents in many ways the end of an era, being already less regionally based than before, more fluid and operative across borders, and ultimately, against all odds, one of the most uniquely productive and relevant to a living culture.

Wayne Baerwaldt

Wayne Baerwaldt - Brief Biography & Résumé

Brief Biography

Wayne Baerwaldt is Director/Curator, Exhibitions, Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Alberta College of Art + Design, Calgary.
Responsible for all aspects of the IKG operations and program. Former Director of The Power Plant, Toronto (2002-2005) and Plug In ICA (1986-1999). Former adjunct curator, Plug In ICA (1999-2001) and adjunct curator Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1999-2002). He has curated or co-curated exhibitions such as Under the Influence of Fluxus (1991-93), Caroline Dukes (1994-95), Festival du Voyeur (1994), Alison Norlen (1995), Pierre Molinier (1994-98), Joep van Lieshout-Collection 96 (1996), The Moral Imagination (1996), John Dickson (1996), Beck & Al Hansen: Playing With Matches (1998-2001), Fragile Electrons (a video survey) for the National Gallery of Canada, The Royal Art Lodge: Ask the Dust (2003 and touring), John Kormeling, Daniel Richter: Pink Horse - White Flag and Ignacio Iturria. He recently co-curated with Thelma Golden a major mid-career exhibition of work by Glenn Ligon that opened at The Power Plant in June, 2005 and travels to the Wexner Art Center, the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at UBC, Vancouver, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, and MUDAM, Luxembourg. He has collaborated on many other projects such as Memories of Overdevelopment: Philippines Diaspora in Contemporary Art (1997-99) at the University of California, Irvine and Plug In, Winnipeg. His best-known projects trace performative elements in artmaking with an emphasis on unstable, disputed identities and the language of their construction and presentation in public and private spaces.

He developed and presented official Canadian representation at the Sao Paulo Bienal (1994), the Istanbul Bienal (1999), the Shanghai Biennale (2000), and the 49th Venice Biennale (2001).

Baerwaldt acted as Co-commissioner and Curator for Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's double award-winning production, The Paradise Institute, at the 49th Venice Biennale. It is the first time in 50 years of Canadian participation at the Venice Biennale that official prizes have been awarded to Canada's representatives. The Paradise Institute toured to the National Gallery of Canada, The Power Plant, Plug In ICA, the Banff Centre for the Arts and has been exhibited in Berlin, Washington, Santa Fe, New York and other locations.

In 2001 he co-produced the short film FILM(dzama) by Winnipeg filmmaker deco dawson that won the Best Short Film Award in competition at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, 2001. The film showcased at the Rotterdam Film Festival in January, 2002 and won Best Technical Film Award at the prestigious Ann Arbor Film Festival in March, 2002. In 2005 he co-produced with Barbara Barde an hour long doc entitled Walk With Me, on the collaborative artworks of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller for Showcase TV.

Baerwaldt is the only Canadian member of the Exhibition Committee of Independent Curators International, New York. Recently appointed Adjunct Professor in Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia. He has contributed articles and essays to City Magazine, Art&Text, Border Crossings, Parkett, Art on Paper, Guia des Artes, Poliester, Art Paper, the Museum of Modern Art Sao Paulo, C Magazine, and numerous catalogues.

Résumé

Academic Background
BA Sociology and Urban Studies, 1978, University of Regina and York University (Glendon College), Toronto.
MCP, 1985, University of Manitoba.
Studio and art history classes informed studies in both degrees.

Administrative Experience
2005-present Director-Curator, Exhibitions, IKG
2002-2005 Director, The Power Plant, Toronto
1986-1999 Director, Plug In, Winnipeg
1992-93 Treasurer, Association of Non-Profit Artist-Run Centres, Canada.

SELECTED CURATED PROJECTS

2007
Curator, Biennale de Montreal.
2007 and touring.

2006
The Collage Party: Paul Butler (group performative installation), Illingworth Kerr Gallery.
Smithbilt Revisited (group show), new works by Graeme Patterson and other artists, IKG, in conjunction with The Collage Party.
Jesper Just, It Will All End in Tears, Toronto International Film Festival, art installation @ NOIR.

2005-07
Glenn Ligon (solo exhibition), co-curated with Thelma Golden, The Power Plant, and touring 2005-07.
Ignacio Iturria (solo exhibition), touring to The Power Plant, Confederation Arts Centre, Charlottetown, the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, the Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Calgary and other venues through 2007.
Bill Smith (sculpture and ceramics), Toronto International Art Fair 2005.
Graeme Patterson (solo exhibition), 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, official entry.

2004
Daniel Richter Pink Flag White Horse (solo exhibition), co-curated with Kitty Scott and Scott Watson, The Power Plant,
The National Gallery of Canada, The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver.
John Körmeling (including publication with Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Plug In, Winnipeg).
Laura Kikauka Exactly the Same, but Completely Different (solo exhibition), The Power Plant.

2000-2003
AA Bronson the Quick and the Dead, Judy Radul (solo exhibitions), The Power Plant.
Foreignness (group exhibition including Stan Douglas, Alison Norlen, Stephen Andrews, Christine Davis, Guy Maddin, An Te Liu, Eleanor Bond, Zacharias Kunuk and others), Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea.
The Royal Art Lodge: Ask the Dust (exhibition and catalogue), The Drawing Center, New York, The Power Plant, Toronto, De Vleeshal, Middelburg, Netherlands, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea, MOCA LA, Los Angeles, Wayne State University, Detroit.
FILM(dzama), co-producer of deco dawson's film (winner of the Best Short Film Award, 2001 Toronto International Film Festival). Touring.
Susan Philpsz, Eoghan McTigue, Victor Sloan (group show co-organized with Valery Camarta), Plug In. (new editions produced by Philipsz and McTigue).
Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller: The Paradise Institute (exhibition & publication), 49th Venice Biennale, National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), The Power Plant, Toronto, Plug In (Winnipeg), Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, Alta..
Marcel Dzama: Dr. Wings (group exhibition), Galerie air de paris, Paris.
Marcel Dzama: More Famous Drawings (touring exhibition and catalogue), Plug In, Saidye Bronfman Centre, Montreal, the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver, the Calgary Art Gallery, Calgary, the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto.

1999
Eye of the Needle-Hagop Sandaldjian Microminiatures and Bill Burns (exhibitions & texts), Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina; Power Plant, Toronto; Plug In, Winnipeg.
World Tea Party (exhibition & publication), Plug In, Winnipeg/Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles.
The Performative and Process in Painting (exhibition series), including Francis Alys, Chris Derosz, Edith deKyndt, Yunhee Min and others. Plug In.
Psychic Saturday Night (13-part live phone-in psychic series for WTN, national television, Canada), concept consultant, choreographer.

1998
Marcel Dzama: Famous Drawings (publication & exhibition), Espaco Purplex, Rio de Janeiro, and Casa Triangulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Draw, Stranger (3-part exhibition including Laura Baird, Steve DeGroodt, Stuart Mead, Erika Rothenberg, Les Newman, Katja Davars, Gregory Green, Rob Birza, Derek Brueckner, Geoffrey Farmer, Guy Maddin, Christine Kirouac, Maura Bendett and others), Plug In.
Beck & Al Hansen: Playing With Matches (exhibition and book), Plug In Gallery, Santa Monica Museum of Art (Santa Monica, CA), Thread Waxing Space (New York). In 1999-2000: Art Beatus (Vancouver), LaForet Museum (Tokyo), Parco Gallery (Nagoya), Fukuoka Art Musuem, Walter Phillips Gallery (Banff), The Power Plant (Toronto), The Works (Edmonton), Agnes Etherington Art Gallery (Kingston), Cheekwood Art Museum (Nashville), and others.
Recent Canadian Video: Building Home, Not My Own (essay and exhibition), including the Royal Art Lodge, Laura Baird, Lori Millan & Stephen Lawson, Geoffrey Farmer and others. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
Pierre Molinier: Photographs (book and touring exhibition), Santa Monica Museum of Art.

1997
The Moral Imagination (publication and exhibition), including Sharon Corne, Royal Art Lodge, Laurie Steelink, Bill Beccio, William S. Burroughs, Jake Kosciuk, Evan Tapper, Grant Guy, Gordie Agar, Al Rushton, Nam June Paik, Charlotte Moorman, Hermann Nitsch and others). Plug In.
Jake Kosciuk: GOD (book and exhibition), Plug In.

1996
Joep van Lieshout - Collection 96 (book and touring exhibition), Plug In, Jack Tilton Gallery (New York), Randolph Street Gallery (Chicago), Richard Heller Gallery (L.A.).

SELECTED RECENT AND UPCOMING PUBLICATIONS

2007
Annie Pootoogook (catalogue essay), Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Calgary.
Collage Party (IKG catalogue co-produced with David Liss, MoCCA, Toronto).
PUBIC 34 (Crack the Sky - Biennale de Montreal catalogue).
Ignacio Iturria (IKG catalogue).
Theo SimsŠthe Candahar (IKG catalogue).
Graeme Patterson, Woodrow (catalogue essay), AGNS.
Laura Kikauka (brochure essay), YYZ`Artists Outlet, Toronto.
Common Threads (Confederation Arts Centre catalogue co-produced with the IKG).

2006
Desert of Reflections: Iran Do Espirito Santo (catalogue essay), MAXXI, Rome.

2005
Glenn Ligon: Some Changes (catalogue introductory essay), The Power Plant, Toronto.
Ignacio Iturria (catalogue essay), The Power Plant, Toronto, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL.
John Kormeling, Cummulus section essay, Parkett magazine, spring.

1999-2004
Daniel Richter: White Horse Pink Flag (introductory essay), The Power Plant and Belkin Art Gallery, UBC, Vancouver.
John Körmeling (publication), Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Plug In, Winnipeg, The Power Plant, Toronto, and touring.
Paulo Whitaker (catalogue essay), for artist's exhibition catalogue in conjunction with the Sao Paulo Bienal. 2000-2003.
Judy Radul, AA Bronson (solo exhibitions), catalogue introduction, The Power Plant.
The Sky: An Introduction for Between Earth and Sky, Geoffrey Hendricks, Confederation Arts Centre, Charlottetown, PEI.
Foreignness (catalogue essay for group exhibition including Stan Douglas, Alison Norlen, Stephen Andrews, Christine Davis, Guy Maddin, An Te Liu, Eleanor Bond, Zacharias Kunuk and others), Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea.
The Royal Art Lodge: Ask the Dust (interview with artists, co-written with Joe Wolin)
Erik Edson: Cloud 7 (catalogue essay), Owens Art Gallery, Sackville, NB.
Inside Out Space: Undermining the Modern, Carl Zimmerman, (catalogue essay), Owens Art Gallery, Sackville, NB.
Introduction to The Paradise Institute (catalogue essay), Janet Cardiff/George Bures Miller), PS1 MoMA, New York.
Phantoms of the Paradise (catalogue introduction), Venice Biennale 2001, on Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.
Jason Rhoades, Yutaka Sone, John Hernandez (brochure essays), ArtPace Foundation, San Antonio.
A Good Book 2001: John Kormeling, Plug In Editions/Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven.
Tea & Sympathy (catalogue essays), publication co-designer and editor, Plug In Editions.
Marcel Dzama (catalogue essay, & book co-designer), Plug In Edition
On My Head I Take the Risk: Beck & Al Hansen (revised catalogue essay), in Beck & Al Hansen: Playing With Matches (Plug In Editions/Smart Art Press). Japanese hardcover edition released with Cross Beat, Tokyo.