Seth at Toronto's AGO This Summer!

“Comic Artist Seth and Projection Artist Jennifer Steinkamp” / Art Gallery of Ontario / Art Gallery of Ontario / June 17, 2005

(TORONTO: June 15, 2005) This summer the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Swing Space program continues to take advantage of the changing shape of the Gallery during Transformation AGO to put exciting contemporary art in unexpected places. From June 29 to October 16, 2005 the AGO presents Present Tense: Seth, the first solo museum exhibition of the critically-acclaimed cartoonist, and Media/Art/Space: Jennifer Steinkamp, an installation by the renowned contemporary artist who uses projected video and animation to explore issues of architectural space.

Recognized as one of the greatest cartoonists of the past decade, Canadian comic artist Seth has distilled one of the most distinctive styles in the burgeoning world of alternative comics. His sophisticated illustrations have also found their way into many mainstream publications, including The Washington Post, Details, Spin, The New York Times, Saturday Night and The New Yorker. Present Tense: Seth features original ink drawings from Clyde Fans, Seth’s current and ongoing comic series, the first half of which was published as an award-winning graphic novel in 2004. The show includes several cardboard sculptures of buildings created by the artist to give life to the local landmarks of Dominion – the fictional, time-locked, northern Ontario town featured in passing in his story.

Also featured in the exhibition will be the 2005 AGO acquisition, Hush, also by Seth. An important purchase for the Art Gallery of Ontario, the acquisition recognizes comics for the first time as a significant sphere of contemporary creative endeavour, and as a fully articulated art form on its own terms. "This work by Seth was acquired as a work of art, and not an example of popular culture," said Ben Portis, AGO assistant curator of contemporary art. "What makes Hush the right work for the Gallery is the degree to which it converses with depictions of the Canadian landscape in the AGO collection, from Tom Thomson to today."

On June 30, 2005 at 7pm, Portis will engage Seth in an exploratory conversation about the artist’s work. This event will be free with the price of general admission.

Media/Art/Space: Jennifer Steinkamp, will feature the artist’s interactive digital projection installation Loom. Los Angeles-based Steinkamp is acclaimed for her disarming and sometimes dizzying installations that skillfully manipulate scale, colour, light and motion in order to transform existing gallery spaces. Viewers of her work are often invited to manipulate her visually mesmerizing environments by entering into the light projections of the installations themselves.
Consisting of two overlapping video projections of moving patterns – one horizontal, the other vertical – Loom creates an undulating weave of light that fills an entire wall. As viewers move through Steinkamp’s installation, their bodies create two shadows, which disrupt the layered projection. From one direction, the viewer’s body casts a shadow over the horizontal pattern to reveal the vertical pattern, and from the other direction the reverse occurs. Consequently, the shadows of the viewer become interlaced with the moving grid so the viewer’s body and actions become incorporated into the work itself.

Seth and Jennifer Steinkamp join a growing list of artists showing their work at the AGO as part of the Swing Space program of contemporary art during Transformation AGO construction. The program includes Performance Space, performance art in unique gallery spaces; Wallworks, a series 15 works which allow artists to create directly on the surface of gallery walls; Present Tense, a series of exhibitions featuring cutting edge contemporary artists; and Media/Art/Space, a series of installations that highlight the intersection of technology, art and architecture. Already on display as part of the Wallworks series are large-scale pieces by artists Sol LeWitt, Swintak and Lawrence Weiner.

The Present Tense series is generously supported by The Contemporary Circle, which was formed in the fall of 1996 to support new art initiatives at the AGO.

Contemporary programming at the Art Gallery of Ontario is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.

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