Michael Snow
Clothed Woman (In Memory of my Father) 1963
oil and lucite on canvas
152 x 386.2 cm
Purchased 1966
National Gallery of Canada

Contemporary Art and the Weight of Time at the End of the Millenium: the National Gallery of CanadaPresents the Exhibition 2000 and Counting

Ottawa, Canada - December 9, 1999


 « L'art contemporain et le poids du temps à la fin du millénaire : Le Musée des beaux-arts du Canada présente l'exposition Tenir compte de l'an 2000 » 
A the dawn of the third millennium, the National Gallery of Canada presents 2000 and Counting, a timely series of installations by contemporary artists Gerald Ferguson and Tatsuo Miyajima, whose work addresses issues related to time, repetition, and counting. The exhibition is on view from 17 December 1999 through 26 March 2000.
Time is money, we're told. This century invented the assembly line, where endless, repetitive motions add up to a car, or a washing machine. Labour, broken down into units, is translated into profit. 1,000,000 Pennies, by the Halifax artist Gerald Ferguson, represents an indeterminate investment of time, but is unequivocal about value. The sculpture can be displayed, or, as the artist suggests, deposited in a bank account, where it will accumulate interest. His 1,000,000 Grapes paintings, on the other hand, are the result of his willingness to put time into his art. Working with a stencil of forty grapes, he paints over it with black paint, 250 times for each canvas. One hundred canvases, ten thousand grapes per canvas, add up to a million, but we'll have to leave the counting up to the artist. The image has disappeared, leaving only the black residue of his surplus labour. 1,000,000 Pennies is made possible through the generous collaboration of the Royal Canadian Mint.

In Tatsuo Miyajima's Thousand Road, image is replaced by numbers, a fact important to this Japanese artist because numbers transcend cultural boundaries. Thousand Road is fundamentally a counting system, made up of one thousand LED counters wired together into units of ten. Each unit counts from 1 to 99, then transmits a signal to another unit, and so forth, endlessly. The system embodies three principles from Buddhist philosophy that are equally important to modern physics: keep changing, connect with everything, and continue forever. Thousand Road can be seen as a fragment of a model universe, always in flux.

The unimaginably big – or far away, or long ago – is something that today we can measure, yet not readily conceive without diminishing ourselves. These works by Gerald Ferguson and

Tatsuo Miyajima offer occasions to contemplate vastness in human terms.

Interviews with Diana Nemiroff, Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada, are available upon request.
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