Thursday, May 28, 2015

Every Building In The Sunset Strip

More about the book soon, once I've documented it, but here's the press release for the exhibition, which opens Saturday:

MKG127 is very pleased to present Every Building In The Sunset Strip, an exhibition of new work by Dave Dyment.

Opening Saturday May 30, from 2 - 5 PM.

Dave Dyment's fourth solo exhibition at MKG127 explores the relationship between architecture, the automobile and the camera lens, while paying tribute to an influential artists' book that celebrates it's fiftieth anniversary next year. In Zoomscape (2014), historian Mitchell Schwarzer argues that most architecture is now viewed "through the windshield of a moving vehicle" or "through the images of cameras, movies, and television programs--that is, through the lens of another's eye." Nowhere is this more true than in Los Angeles, the epicentre of North American filmmaking and driving. In 1966 Ed Ruscha produced one of the most revered artists' books ever, by driving along the Sunset Strip and documenting each building with a camera on a tripod in the back of his truck. The long-celebrated work has undergone recent reevaluation in the wake of Google Maps: "It's as if the car were itself part of the camera apparatus, generative of another means of framing experience" (Jaleh Mansoor, 2005).

Dyment's project remakes the book, twice: as text, unearthing stories about every building in Ruscha's Strip, and by amassing a comprehensive collection of images from film and television. Unlike the deliberately dispassionate portraits by Ruscha, the film-stills and anecdotes feature crime, car chases, romantic entanglements, and riots. Taken sequentially, they suggest an intertwined narrative while presenting an historic overview of the famous two-and-a-half kilometre stretch of the boulevard.

Dyment's work often involves exhaustive research and the use of cinema as archive, mining film for found imagery, shared associations, narrative tropes, and historical and fictional through lines.  Several recent projects have investigated 'location' in cinema, as does a forthcoming featuring-length video titled Substitute City. His work has been exhibited across the country and elsewhere, mostly recently at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery and the Montreal Biennale. Examples of his work can be seen at


Tonight from 5 to 9pm at Access Gallery, 222 East Georgia Street, Vancouver:

Whisky and discounted books from The Contemporary Art Gallery, Access Gallery, Fillip, New Documents, Presentation House Gallery, Or Gallery and Western Front. See earlier post or visit their site, here.

Saturday May 30, from 10 to 4pm:

Monkey's Paw Garage Sale. A barn-like garage off of Skey Lane, just below Dundas. All books between one and three dollars. Visit the Facebook page, here.

A few iPhone photos as updates from recent posts:

1) Pop Up Shop at G Gallery with Bywater Brothers Editions, Nothing Else Press, Paul + Wendy Projects and Slow Editions. 

2) The launch event for Jess Dobkin's Artists' Newsstand. 

3) Mungo Thompson at G Gallery. 

4) Rodney Graham concert last night at The Great Hall. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Marc Hundley | Weaverbird & Other Words

Marc Hundley
Weaverbird & Other Words
New York City, USA: RAINOFF, 2010
68 pp., 18 x 25 cm., hardcover
Edition of 500

Available for £33.00 from Ti Pi Tin, here.

Mark Hundley's I Love Coming Home opens at MKG127 on Saturday May 30, from 2 - 5 pm, and continues until June 27th. Visit the gallery website for more information, here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rodney Graham | Verwandlungsmusik (Transformation Music)

Rodney Graham
Verwandlungsmusik (Transformation Music)
Saint-Etienne, France: Espace Art Contemporain, 1991
Audio CD
12.5 x 14 cm
Edition size unknown

Subtitled Orchestral Highlights from Parsifal (1882-39,969,364,735 AD), this conceptual exercise remains one of my favourite artworks ever, and is tied for my very favourite artist's recording (with Gavin Bryars' The Sinking of the Titanic).

The work originates from a story Graham had read about the composer Richard Wagner and the 1882 rehearsals of Parsifal in Bayreuth. The curtain-puller for the play was having trouble closing them on time, so Wagner was asked to compose some additional music to smooth over the transition. He refused, reportedly declaring "I do not write music by the meter."  (I'm unable to separate the anecdote from Max Von Sydow's tortured painter in Woody Allen's Hannah and her Sisters, indignantly proclaiming "I don't sell my work by the yard!").

Fortunately for the producers, Wagner's assistant Engelbert Humperdinck (the namesake of the 1960's crooner) was happy to oblige. His additions to the score were accepted by Wagner, used for the first few performances, but eventually dropped after the curtains were altered and the stage machinery was overhauled.

Graham hunted down these obscure excised bars and upon further investigation determined that Humperdinck had actually composed no new music, but rather manipulated the existing score so that the piece could loop back on itself. Graham recognized the similarity to his own 1983 work Lenz, in which he takes the reoccurrence of a phrase within the first five pages of a novel, and re-typesets them to facilitate a narrative that could loop back upon itself, mirroring the story of the protagonist, who is continuously retracing his own steps.

By returning the extra bars of music to the score of Parsifal as a progression of repetitions, Graham was able to create a series of asynchronous loops that would not resynchronize for 39 billion years. He attempts to pinpoint the exact time that the work would conclude (7:30 pm on June 18th), but the CD liner notes include a letter from Alan H. Batten of the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics suggesting that an accurate calculation would be impossible. He goes on to list the problems with the speculation, not the least of which is the likelihood that long before that time the sun will cease to shine.

Alongside his art career (and often intermingling with it), Graham has been a prolific songwriter and performer. He was a member of the late-seventies post-punk/new wave band U-J3RK5 (with artists Ian Wallace, Jeff Wall and others) and has released several LPS of songs, including The Bed Bug, Love Buzz (2000), Getting It Together In The Country (2000), Rock is Hard (2003), Never Tell a Pal a Hard Luck Story (2005) and Why Look for Good Times (2008). In 2007, JPRingier released The Rodney Graham Songbook (available here).

The Rodney Graham Band consists of Graham on guitar and vocals, Dave Carswell on bass, Paul Rigby on guitar , mandolin and pedal steel, and Pete Bourne on drums. The group have performed in cities such as Berlin, Glasgow, London, New York and Paris. I believe the last time they played in Toronto was over a decade ago, in 2004, when Art Metropole and the AGO presented a concert at the Gladstone hotel (see below poster, which I think was designed by my then-colleague at AM, Pete Gazendam). Somewhere in my files I have Graham's set-list scrawled on the back of one of these photocopied handbills.

Tomorrow night Art en Valise hosts a performance of the band at The Great Hall from 8 to 10pm. Art en Valise identify as art lovers (not dealers or curators), and are "dedicated to introducing Canadian audiences to new ideas in the contemporary visual arts." The group consists of Paul Marks, Liza Mauer and Elisa Nuyten. Visit their website, here.

Tickets are $40 with a 50% discount for artists and students. They're available here.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Roula Partheniou | Spindle Candle

Roula Partheniou
Spindle Candle
Toronto, Canada: Self-published, 2015
9-1/2 x 4-3/4 x 1-3/4"
Edition of 20

A found wooden spindle is sliced and painted to appear as a candlestick and it's own holder. The work is part of Partheniou's solo exhibition House & Home & Garden, which closes today at Oakville Galleries. The piece sits on the mantle, as part of a series of reductive replicas (paint on wood). A coffee cup appears both randomly abandoned, and oddly accommodated by the placement of the objects around it.

Elsewhere, other items also appear discarded: a pop can, a screwdriver, a used matchstick, a measuring tape, more coffee cups. The entire gallery (consisting of four separate rooms) appears to be under renovation until closer inspection reveals the extent of the artifice. The pink and blue insulation foam is painted and silkscreened wood. The copper pipes are painted dowel. The green painters' tape has been painted directly onto the wall.

Partheniou has created a room within a room and built an additional fifth room. It's unclear where the doors and windows lead to, "complicating the floor plan". This approach allows Partheniou to continue producing sculptures at a domestic, intimate 1:1 ratio (which has always been key to the way her work is read), and simultaneously expand to an almost architectural level.

The new fifth room, visible only through a set of bay windows, reveals the most detailed work: a junk pile of toys, board games, books, pots, pans, dishes, diskettes, an extension cord, a box of kleenex, a ream of paper, etc. Every item is made of painted wood (with the sole exception of the tennis balls, which are styrofoam with green flocking). They sit atop MDF plinths which resemble packing boxes, suggesting the last-to-be-packed items before a move or extensive renovation.

This subtle narrative plays with the gallery's history as a 1920's estate home, converting the building back into a residence, but one in a state of transition. Visitors might first feel that the gallery is in between exhibits, a sensation heightened by the well-timed actual repairs underway on the exterior of the building.

Terence Dick's review in Akimbo is here, Murray Whyte's piece in the Toronto Star can be read here, and the gallery site is here. An essay by the exhibition curator Jon Davies can be read here.