Conceptual Art in Canada: The 1960s and 70s
April 19–September 8, 2013
Curated by Barbara Fischer and Anja Casser, in collaboration with Grant Arnold, Vincent Bonin, Catherine Crowston, Michèle Thériault, Jayne Wark
From April to September 2013, Badischer Kunstverein is hosting a major exhibition and series of events on conceptual art in Canada with a special focus on the 1960s and 1970s. This exhibition is the first comprehensive presentation of Canadian conceptual art in Europe and is part of Badischer Kunstverein’s ongoing interest in histories of conceptual art, explored in exhibitions such as Why here is always somewhere else (2008) and Nancy Holt: Sightlines (2011). CONTINENTAL DRIFT presents works of more than 100 artists on all three floors of the Kunstverein. Featured artists include important Canadian protagonists Vera Frenkel, General Idea, Garry Neill Kennedy, Ken Lum, N.E. Thing Co., Michael Snow, Françoise Sullivan, Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace, and Joyce Wieland, as well as American and European artists who realized important pieces in Canada during this time and had a lasting effect on conceptual art there, such as John Baldessari, Dan Graham, Sol LeWitt, Martha Rosler and Robert Smithson.
CONTINENTAL DRIFT is devoted to a significant and hitherto underrepresented period in Canadian art. Involving a broad spectrum of materials and media, the exhibition sheds light on some of the most unique characteristics of Canadian conceptual art – especially the role of artists’ collectives and the network of artist-run centers, but also the development of new artistic mediums and the influence of Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan. The exhibition accentuates a diversity of local vantage points in the ongoing project of revisiting the history of conceptual art globally.
Organized thematically, CONTINENTAL DRIFT features five intertwined chapters in two consecutive parts. The first part will be dedicated to the artistic exploration of geography, mapping, landscape, and sites. The political implications of language, communication, and discourse are the focus of a second, large constellation of artworks. A third chapter centers on the critical scrutiny of conventional approaches of teaching and pedagogy with a view to the alternative concepts applied at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design (NSCAD) in Halifax. For the second part of the exhibition, which opens in late June, two points of thematic focus will be added. First, the relationship between conceptual art and body politics will be seen against the backdrop of feminist and queer strategies. Second, the intensification of artists’ networking activities and collaborative projects will be thematized.
Curated by Barbara Fischer (Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Hart House, University of Toronto) and Anja Casser (Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe), in collaboration with Grant Arnold (Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver), Vincent Bonin (independent curator, Montreal), Catherine Crowston (Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton), Michèle Thériault (Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montreal), and Jayne Wark (NSCAD, Halifax).
Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation. With the kind support of the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Embassy of Canada, Berlin.
Title Image: Installation view of CONTINENTAL DRIFT, 2013.