Skip links

WANTED: An Exhibition of Objects of Dread and Desire

Jack Anderson, Brett Graham, Marla Hlady, Darren Lago, Kevin McKenzie, John Noestheden, Manuela Ribadeneira
Elizabeth Matheson (Curator)
September 19 – December 12, 2015

Opening Reception:

September 19th, 2015, 8:00 p.m.
Remarks and Curatorial Walkthrough, 9:30 p.m.

RSVP on Facebook:

Download a digital version of the mini-catalogue here.

A large-scale sculptural work titled Pioneer created by artist Brett Graham specifically for WANTED will be displayed at the First Nations University of Canada (First Nations Way, University of Regina).

WANTED: An Exhibition of Objects of Dread and Desire

An exhibition of this kind is a long time in making and draws on a wide range of sources. I have been engaged in curating exhibitions since the late 1990s. My first curatorial position was at The Photographers Gallery, an artist-run centre in Saskatoon, well known at the time for their interest in contemporary exhibitions and activities with internationally recognized artists such as Joan Foncuberta (Spain) and Jo Spence (UK) who actively questioned accepted ideas and shook up traditional gallery methods of display. The object of these exhibitions, among other things, was to treat objects and their relationship to viewers as a social phenomenon, which should be read from its own proper critique rather than as loosely bundled anecdotes. The idea of viewer/audience complicity underlined many of the approaches taken by the fore-mentioned twenty-first century artists that potentially led to double readings of optimism/renewal and revelation/criticism and forwarded the notion of art as a kind of reappraisal of beauty setting in motion a willful play of confidences between viewer and spectacle.

This project was cast in the form of a broadly based investigation into the nature of consumption and marketplace that require a willing viewer to agree to participate in loathing and longing for desirable objects to transcend the conflicts of life. The net was deliberately cast wide, in the belief that consumption is a more significant social phenomenon for artists than has usually been supposed in contemporary culture, and to explore several thematic concerns around desire and longing, demonstrating the ways in which art and consumption share a similar goal of suggestive power while casting a critical glance at everyday reality. The idea of this exhibition also draws heavily from cultural theorist Jeanne Randolphs assertion,that
by the mid 2000s a new pre-eminent cultural axis was potentially transforming the arts as a way to criticize advertising culture for its stunting effect on both reason and empathy.

Works by seven key artists, Jack Anderson (Canada), Brett Graham (NZ), Marla Hlady (Canada), Darren Lago (UK), Kevin McKenzie (Canada), John Noestheden (Canada) and Manuela Ribadeneira (UK) encourages the hope that this tranformation is indeed underway. The works selected for this exhibition seem to offer a way of approaching the current dilemma by combining extensive research into histories, and often made in collaboration with scholars and other cultural researchers with the more immediate concerns of aspirational behavior and resource sharing in an economic system entirely dependent on the production and consumption of a continuing spiral of goods.

Within this material world, works such as this can be referred to as memory works – art that attempts, in an age of accelerated capitalism and media-induced amnesia, to summon more meaninful and authentic reflections on the present and the past. Such work also focusses on the locality and specificity of history. As memory triggers, they address the viewer in a personal reflection about the relationship between the past and present.

Consumption seems likely to remain a social phenomenon as the millennium pulls forward. It represents one of the fundamental ways people are constructing and reconstituting their identities and social roles. We know all too little about the consequences of consumption and yet this behavior constructs the world we live in. Works such as these in WANTED are imbued with the transforming power to help us understand the complexities of accumulating and consuming in these times, and offers a chance to create changes in the way we view the visible and tangible world, with all of the symbolic values this implies.