Don’t Stop Believing
June 8–August 20, 2011
Curated by Barbara Fischer
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery
The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery is pleased to announce Don’t Stop Believing, the first major solo exhibition of Vancouver-based artist Kevin Schmidt in Canada and internationally.
Including several recent conceptual and cinematic installations, the exhibition offers a concise introduction to Schmidt’s ongoing interests. In particular, the exhibition brings together works that share the tropes of the solitary epic quest as narrated in popular science fiction, spiritual discovery, scientific expedition, and music.
Kevin Schmidt first came to international attention with his single-channel 2002 video work Long Beach Led Zep featuring the artist’s studied solo guitar performance of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” staged against the setting sun of Vancouver Island’s mythic Long Beach. Since then, the combination of sublime settings and heroic, DIY or amateur quests have been a recurrent element in his installations, such as in the works in this exhibition. Taking their point of departure in a wide array of generation-defining cultural referents and re-enactments – Tolkien’s famed trilogy “Lord of the Rings”, the song “Angel of Light” by the Rock group Petra, as well as expeditions such as Franklin’s failed search for the Northwest Passage, among others – Schmidt’s interests in the epic quest expresses the desire to go beyond the limits of knowledge and to chart the more ethereal territories of other non-rational worlds.
If the expression of this desire often finds form in manufactured spectacle or sublime nature, Kevin Schmidt’s appropriations and enactments of these are tempered by skepticism. His work counters the traps of blind acceptance using the visible reminders of handy-man construction and theatrical devices – smoke machines, generators, stage lights and even a DIY video projector – all the while seeking to produce experiences that exceed common cause or practical reason. Adapting the title of the American rock band Journey’s 1981 hit single, “Don’t stop believin’ ” for the exhibition, Schmidt’s interest in the classic, modern tension between doubt and faith appears as a constant balancing act in his works. Particularly, the artist’s work suggests that this productive pulse inheres in the very purpose and possibility of art as it constantly reconsiders conviction while critically reflecting on the apocalyptic proclamations of religion, the manufactured seductions of spectacle, or the romance of scientific expeditions’ search for the truth.
Kevin Schmidt’s exhibition at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery is part of an ongoing series of first, in-depth solo exhibitions of artists whose work has received local, national and international attention, such as Ron Terada (2011), Will Kwan (2009), Mark Lewis (2009), James Carl (2009), and Kelly Mark (2007).
Tuesday June 7, 2011, 6:30-9:00pm
Tuesday June 7, 2011, 5:30-6:30pm
Featuring Kevin Schmidt
Hart House Music Room
Contemporary Art Bus Tour
Sunday June 26, 2011, 1-5:30pm
Beginning at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery
We gratefully acknowledge the operating support from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Title Image: Installation view of Don’t Stop Believing: Kevin Schmidt, 2011. Image credit: Toni Hafkenscheid.