A 1955 collision, familial trauma, post-war tensions and narratives of desire converge in Geoffrey Farmer’s exhibition at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Water drips, spurts and runs through a fountain courtyard and sculptural garden in A Way Out of the Mirror, a title that borrows a line from the poem “Laughing Gas” by Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. At this year’s Canada Pavilion, Farmer has sought to create an open, outward-facing exhibition rooted in the personal, looking beyond the pavilion’s walls and toward something shared.
Kitty Scott is a curatorial advisor for the Biennale de Montréal 2016 Le Grand Balcon, on view until January at a number of locations throughout Montreal. In 2017, she will curate Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer’s work for the Canada pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In this interview, Scott talks about the evolving role of the curator in nurturing, presenting and collecting art for generations to come.
“We made circuits that look like little rollercoasters,” said a voice over the line — either Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère or Nicolas Laverdière; it wasn’t too clear. Just days before heading to Italy, all three members of the artist collective BGL were on the speakerphone in their Quebec City studio, talking animatedly over one another and cracking jokes as they described Canadassimo, their installation for the Venice Biennale.
BGL might just be Canada’s zaniest artist collective. Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère and Nicolas Laverdière, whose initials form the acronym BGL, have a history of creating elaborate, thought-provoking and often hilarious works of art out of found or re-purposed materials. Discarded Christmas trees, wrecked snowmobiles, used refrigerators, and the contents of a neighbour’s blue box are all potential art materials for BGL.
The artists’ collective BGL has been chosen to represent Canada at the 2015 Venice Biennale, one of the world’s most prestigious art events. Comprised of Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère and Nicolas Laverdière, BGL is a Québécois trio that has been working together for almost 20 years. During that time, they’ve created and presented a number of imaginative works that break away from the traditional framework in which art is typically experienced, often surprising spectators in the process.
Massimiliano Gioni’s remarkable and exhaustive exhibition, The Encyclopedic Palace, is not only the centerpiece of the 55th Venice Biennale, now underway, but also outshines the national pavilions in the Giardini and other sites around the city. Gioni, the 39-year-old associate director and director of exhibitions for the New Museum in New York, has developed a cogent curatorial thesis and delivered it in a brilliant exhibition that is filled with surprises, provocations and many artists whose names you probably will never have heard, along with some who are well known or among the current stars.
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