The Blur in Between, the Art Gallery of Alberta’s first exhibition of 2016, opens Saturday, January 23. This Poole Centre of Design show features works from an international roster of artists from Chile, the United States, Britain and the Netherlands, as well as from across Canada and explores the intersections between contemporary art, architecture, industrial design, craft, digital art, fashion, publishing and typography. It demonstrates how functional design methods are used in art-making alongside conceptual design that questions both form and aesthetics.
All of the artists presented reference processes of design production or borrowed techniques from other disciplines, resulting in works that encourage viewers to engage with the ways in which aesthetics and function overlap.
The Blur in Between runs from January 23–May 8, 2016
Featured Artists and Works
Brandon Blommaert (b. Edmonton, Alberta. Lives and works in Montreal) will present a series of minimalist GIF animations, each just a few seconds long, looped to emphasize their geometric detail, with sound art compositions developed and remixed by the artist.
Julia Feyrer (b. Victoria, BC. Lives and works in Vancouver) and Tamara Henderson (b. Sackville, New Brunswick. Lives and works in Vancouver) have collaborated on Bottles Under The Influence, a collection of glass bottles filled with characterizations from lucid dream documentation, envisioning each bottle as a persona. The vessels are imbued with preferences, personality and individualized forms realized by glass artisans from dream-induced sketches provided by the artists. Every bottle contains a corresponding liqueur unique to its character, handmade and bottled by Feyrer and Henderson.
Formafantasma (Amsterdam) will show a series of design products, Botanica and Charcoal. Botanica is an investigation of natural polymers, inspired by the pre-Bakelite period, when scientists began experimenting with draining plants and animals in a search for plasticity. Charcoal explores the Swiss tradition of producing charcoal by slow burning wood, with the process documented on video by the artists. Also included is a series of jars and wooden ‘filters’ originally commissioned by Vitra Design Museum. Formafantasma drew inspiration from the tension between the dystopian connotations of charcoal production (causing pollution and destruction) in contrast to its beneficial uses in health care and water purification.
Will Holder (Glasgow, Scotland) will present N156NT.uk, a text archive of the contents of the home of the late British concrete poet Bob Cobbing and his partner, Jennifer Pike Cobbing. Editor and typographer Holder has developed a protocol and interface for an online compiled catalogue of the couple’s work. Holder’s contribution will include a text-based quote on the concept of “metaphor”, appearing on ETS buses around Edmonton, encouraging the public to interact with the work. Holder is a 2015 recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award in the UK.
Micah Lexier (Toronto) and Lisa Naftolin (New York) created the visual identity for The Blur in Between. This graphic identity includes a publication and a custom didactic strategy to identify and position the artworks in the exhibition, with the corresponding artist biographies and artwork information. Micah Lexier will also present This One, That One, a video series consisting of a number of vignettes in which Lexier manipulates items from his archive of used books and found objects, highlighting their aesthetic relationships.
An Te Liu’s (Toronto) EROS / ID / EGO / SUPER is part of his ongoing series of airport taxiway signs. Liu inscribes these words on FAA regulation lightboxes, blending different locating systems to create a new kind of signage, while repurposing everyday codes to divulge unexpected meanings. Liu’s background in architecture informs his sculpture and installation work, exploring function, occupation and cultural coding in the domestic and urban realms.
Metahaven (Amsterdam) notably hit the press in 2011 and 2012 when they created a collection of scarves and T-shirts in support of WikiLeaks. Their video City Rising, showing in this exhibition, is an homage to Dutch architect Constant Nieuwenhuys’s New Babylon, a Utopian architectural project based on the idea of an alternative, fully automated society in which human labour is unnecessary. City Rising proposes that, in a future of constantly networked communication and the integration of work in every part of life, love is the most binding contract, founded on a mutual debt to the other.
Colin Miner (b. Halifax, Nova Scotia. Lives and works in Toronto) will present his piece available light (spiral), a series of photographic prints that demonstrate the construction of an image through variances in the design of the camera itself, the mediations in re/production, the inherent noise found within practices of imaging resolution and our own limits of visual perception.
Michael Morris (Victoria, BC) was inspired in the 1960s by the ideals of Fluxus and Pop Art, and his multidisciplinary practice emphasizes an interest in text art, concrete poetry and visual communication systems. In 1968, he produced a series of twenty-four concrete poems intended as part of a larger book project that was never fully realized. These highly graphic works address the relationship between art and language, and between visual imagery and poetry. Ten of these poems were reimagined as the series City Deluxe, a suite of aquatint prints. City Deluxe 1-10 is Morris’s contribution to The Blur in Between.
Lisa Robertson (La Malgache, France) has written a speculative text on craft in relationship to history and political experience, considering what the communication of material technique, be it textile or otherwise, might have to do with a renovation of political life. Robertson is a Canadian writer currently living in France, and her book Lisa Robertson’s Magenta Soul Whip was named one of The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2010.
Kathy Slade’s (Vancouver, BC) ongoing poster edition I Want It All I Want It Now demonstrates the immediacy and desire in the production of design, typography and print material. Slade’s text work references lyrics by Queen’s iconic pop song and the futility and passion driving the culture of music consumption and distribution mechanisms.
Maaike Anne Stevens (London, UK) and Maite Zabala Meruane (Santiago, Chile) have an ongoing collaborative practice and create site-specific installations that investigate the effect of global online communication through theoretical discourse and the enactment of a material dialogue investigating regional mediums and traditions. In the Minds of Others (Anonymous) is a cumulative work that will amass new objects and display mechanisms with each iteration of its presentation.
Brent Wadden’s monumental weaving Keystone XL rag rug series is crafted from fabrics with subtle hand-dyed cotton and polyester threads woven through the rug’s length. Wadden’s abstractions in form address the separations between the maker and the landscape, and how surfaces intertwine with patterned design. The energy given to his long hand-made rug works also addresses the horizontality of topology and the land we tread on. With a practice based in Berlin, Germany and Vancouver, BC, Wadden references the craft traditions of the Cape Breton Island region where he grew up.
The AGA will also present two programs in conjunction with the exhibition, providing an opportunity to learn about the work from the Curator and participating artists.
The Blur in Between Panel
Sunday, January 24, 1 pm
$15/10 AGA Members
The Blur In Between artists Micah Lexier, Lisa Naftolin, Maaike Anne Stevens and Maite Zabala Meruane will be participating in a panel discussing the boundaries between art and design. Moderated by exhibition Curator Kristy Trinier, this talk will provide insight into the practice of these artists and their work in the exhibition.
Curator’s Walkthrough: The Blur in Between
Wednesday, April 20, 7 pm
FREE with Gallery Admission
This walkthrough provides an opportunity to hear about the exhibition The Blur in Between from AGA Curator Kristy Trinier. The Blur in Between focuses on the practices that occur without division of discipline between those historically demarcated as either art or design, including fields of contemporary art, architecture, industrial design, craft, digital art, fashion, publishing and typography.
The Blur in Between is curated by Kristy Trinier. The Blur in Between is organized by the Art Gallery of Alberta and presented as a part of the Poole Centre of Design.