After an intense period of study and creation, Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer has emerged with a presentation for the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia that interweaves diverse stories of collision and reconciliation.
“Geoffrey Farmer is a wonderful choice to represent Canada at the Biennale Arte 2017, which coincides with the 150th anniversary of our country's confederation,” said Marc Mayer, Director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada – the commissioning institution for the Canada Pavilion. “His new work is unlike anything he has created before or anything ever presented in this pavilion. Farmer has entered new creative territory with this extraordinary installation.”
The Geoffrey Farmer exhibition was commissioned by the National Gallery of Canada and produced in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts. The Canadian representation at Biennale Arte 2017 is made possible through the generous financial support of Presenting Sponsor Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Major Sponsor Aimia. Other support was generously provided by the Canadian Artists in Venice Endowment, the Government of British Columbia, the Joy Thomson Fund, and the philanthropic support of over fifty families and individuals through the National Gallery of Canada Foundation. The art galleries Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, and Casey Kaplan, New York, offered valued assistance to the project.
Simon Brault, O.C., O.Q., Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts, said: “Canada is present at the 57th Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia through some of contemporary art’s boldest artists. Their work offers the world a window onto the issues, challenges and concerns that define Canada in 2017. They provoke conversations that resonate worldwide, on our current human condition – both as a subject of apprehension and hope.
“At RBC, we recognize that supporting the arts encourages a culture of creativity and innovation, in our communities across Canada and around the globe,” said Wayne Bossert, Deputy Chairman and Head, Ultra-High Net Worth Clients, RBC Wealth Management. “As a proud presenting sponsor of the Canadian Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2017, we are committed to championing the art and artists that will bring audiences together to educate and inspire.”
A way out of the mirror began with Farmer’s discovery of two unpublished press photographs dating back to 1955 that depict a collision between a train and a lumber truck driven by his paternal grandfather. 71 brass planks, reminiscent of the lumber that was scattered at the scene of the accident, are part of the work. Other elements, including 3D-printed sculptures cast in aluminum and bronze, tell stories ranging from the relations between Italy and Canada after the Second World War to the artist’s own familial trauma, of luminaries Kathy Acker and Allen Ginsberg, and of Inuit teenagers residing in Cape Dorset, Nunavut.
Water is a powerful connector in Farmer’s presentation and links imagery to the flow of liquid, from the “fountain of knowledge” to the constant “livestream of images” we are familiar with today.
Kitty Scott, the Carol and Morton Rapp Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario was selected by Farmer to curate the 2017 Canada Pavilion. “Farmer opens up and transforms the Canada Pavilion into an outwardly facing fountain courtyard: the water of A way out of the mirror translates a surfeit of emotion and discharges it in spurts and drips as tears, ejaculate and sweat,” she said. “It is at once a monument and an anti-monument that memorializes individuals and stories in a gesture of generosity and inclusion.”
Titled to reference the emotive writings of beat poet Allen Ginsberg, A way out of the mirror presents a new way of experiencing the Canada Pavilion, in which the architectural history of the building is entwined with the installation itself.
The presentation takes place on the 60th anniversary of the construction of the Canada Pavilion, just as the building undergoes a major $3M restoration. The Canada Pavilion, restored to its original 1957 design, will be officially unveiled at the Biennale Architettura 2018.
Karen Colby-Stothart, CEO of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation, said: “Geoffrey Farmer has surprised no one in creating a masterpiece at the Canada Pavilion – at the complex mid-point of deconstruction and restoration. We are so deeply indebted to our loyal corporate supporters, RBC and Aimia, our small army of deeply committed philanthropists across Canada and the extraordinary new partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts–all of whom have made this project possible.”
An illustrated catalogue, distributed by Mousse Publishing, accompanies the exhibition. The publication features a glossary of terms compiled by Geoffrey Farmer and Kitty Scott.
About Geoffrey Farmer
Geoffrey Farmer was born in 1967 in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he continues to live and work. Since his first show in 1997 and over his 20-year career, his work has earned critical acclaim around the world. It has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions at venues including the Louvre in Paris, Tate Modern in London, dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany, the Migros Museum of Contemporary Art in Zurich, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the National Gallery of Canada.
Geoffrey Farmer was chosen to represent Canada at the 57th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia by a selection committee convened by the National Gallery of Canada, which included Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator and Associate Director at the Vancouver Art Gallery; Josée Drouin-Brisebois, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada and Project Director of the Canada Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2017; Mark Lanctôt, Curator at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal; Marc Mayer, Director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada; and Kitty Scott, the Carol and Morton Rapp Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
About Kitty Scott
Kitty Scott is the Carol and Morton Rapp Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada. Previously she was Director of Visual Arts at The Banff Centre, Canada; Chief Curator at the Serpentine Gallery, UK; and Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada. Scott’s extensive resume includes exhibitions of artists such as Francis Alÿs, Stephen Andrews, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Peter Doig, Theaster Gates, Janice Kerbel, Ragnar Kjartansson and Silke Otto-Knapp. She was a core agent for Germany’s dOCUMENTA (13) in 2012. Scott has written extensively on contemporary art for catalogues, books and journals and edited the publication Raising Frankenstein: Curatorial Education and Its Discontents (2010). She regularly lectures at art schools and curatorial programs throughout North America.
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