Archive for January, 2011

Wine With Art Jan 2011: Sandra Vida on Clive Robertson’s Then + Then Again

I’ve been having a bit of trouble with Clive Robertson’s Then + ThenĀ  Again at The New Gallery. The show is a retrospective of Robertson’s work in artist-run culture, much of it in Calgary, and it’s presented through foam-core mounted info-blocks and recorded materials. Documentation. Of course I wasn’t in Calgary’s art scene for any of the actual events, so for me it’s hard to take in as an art show. I can’t read all the panels or watch/listen to all the work.

It’s not that I don’t accept documentation as art, but I think this exhibition is presented more on the side of documentation than documentation-as-art. You really do need to read all of the text to know what’s going on. It’s a self-history more than documentation of a process or performance-based work.

That said, I think I have found the way to enjoy the exhibition: go to the talks. I went to an opening night talk where Robertson spoke, and the talk tonight with Sandra Vida. As someone who is very badly versed in Calgary’s ARC history, it’s been a wonderful crash course that you can’t get from the exhibition itself because the exhibition doesn’t have the side stories or the evident rivalries. At the talks, usually there were one or two people in attendance who were also part of Calgary’s ARC culture when it was nascent, and the back-and-forth and extra tidbits were amazing. That’s what you really need to see and what really can get you energized about ARC culture in Calgary and making sure it keeps happening (not that there’s danger of the ARCs here falling off the planet) and what makes one want to be involved up to your eyeballs. Must get on that.

[The video is a trailer from when the exhibition was mounted in 2007 at several galleries in eastern Canada]