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Art Gallery of Alberta confronts history of never including Black artists in Biennial exhibition – CBC.ca

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In the 24 years since the Art Gallery of Alberta launched its biennial gala to celebrate the province’s artists, the curated exhibition of contemporary works has not included a single Black artist.

Curators at the downtown Edmonton gallery discovered this fact after helping participating artists prepare for this year’s exhibition. The curators’ conversations with artists about representation took place as support for the Black Lives Matter movement surged in North America.

So when the “BorderLINE: 2020 Biennial of Contemporary Art” exhibition opened in late September, the gallery issued a statement that both owned up to the lack of representation and promised to take steps to dismantle systemic racism within its organization and Alberta’s visual arts community.

“Arts organizations like ourselves, like many across the country, are trying to be very transparent, accountable and responsible for not just the histories of our organizations but also our futures,” Catherine Crowston, the AGA’s executive director and chief curator, said Tuesday in an interview with CBC Edmonton’s Radio Active.

The gallery has promised to ensure Black artists are represented in the future and has postponed its 2022 Biennial to allow more time to consult with community members and BIPOC artists.

Radio Active0:00No Black artists in the history of AGA Biennial

The Art Gallery of Alberta is changing to include many more black artists in their exhibits: . AGA Executive Director Catherine Crowston joins me with the details. 0:00

“We wanted to be open about it — to recognize the fact that this has been an issue — and that we are accountable and will be seeking to make changes for the future,” Crowston said.

Eleven Biennial exhibitions have occurred since 1996, each typically featuring several dozen artists. Every exhibition has included Indigenous artists and artists of colour, but no Black artists have ever been included.

Crowston said the AGA plans to expand the reach of its public call for submissions and aim for a more diverse curatorial team. 

The AGA’s board of directors has also committed to changes beyond this exhibition, including establishing an equity committee, using anti-racism human resources policies, providing racial-equity training to all staff and holding meetings with individual organizations and BIPOC community representatives.

Elsa Robinson, a visual artist who served as the first chair of the Edmonton Arts Council’s equity committee, said a good place to start would be hosting accessible events at the gallery that make artists of all races and backgrounds feel welcome.

“Build real relationships with real people,” she said. 

Visual artist Darren Jordan had a similar reaction.

Attendees at the 5 Artists 1 Love art exhibition in January 2020. (Darren Jordan)

“You want community engagement? You’ve got to make sure you’ve got the community in there,” said Jordan, who launched his “5 Artists 1 Love” art exhibition 14 years ago to address the absence of Black art shows in the city.

After five years of running his art show, Jordan was thrilled when the AGA’s director at the time, Gilles Hébert, invited him to bring it to the gallery’s basement space.

The art show and associated musical performance — which was developed to raise money to pay for expenses associated with running an event at the AGA — thrived and expanded. Until the day when someone told him in passing, “Maybe one day you guys will get out of the basement.”

“I could not get that sentence out of my mind,” Jordan said.

A few months ago, the gallery offered up the whole second floor for the event’s 15th anniversary this February — a “momentous opportunity” that Jordan called “a positive step in the right direction.”

“It’s nice that they’re making an effort,” he said.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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ART SEEN: Anthony Kiendl believes in "radical diversity" at an art gallery – Vancouver Sun

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Kiendl is shown with Jackie Lindenbach at the MacKenzie Art Gallery Gala in Regina in October, 2014. Bryan Schlosser/Regina Leader-Post Photo by Bryan Schlosser /Regina Leader-Post

*On his interests in art:

He’s said he’s interested in a wide range of art, including contemporary art, historical art, the art of other cultures, and “an abiding preoccupation” with Indigenous art.

“If you go back and look at the shows I’ve done, there has usually been an Indigenous element for the last 24 years,” he said.

While he won’t rule out curating in future, his focus is on the sustainability of the gallery and building the new gallery.

He’s committed to showing the VAG’s permanent collection which now numbers more than 11,000 works.

“The VAG has an extremely strong and deep permanent collection,” he said.

“I think we need to balance local with international and highlight our permanent collection which we’ve not been able to share enough because of the restraint of our physical plant. Another reason for the new facility is to emphasize the collection.”

He said he believes that exhibitions should express “radical diversity.

“It’s ensuring when you come to the gallery, when you move from room to move, you’ll never sure what to expect when you turn the corner,” he said.

“What can be exciting is that if you come to see one show that you expect, but you find another show that you’re grabbed by, it’s that kind of curiosity and wonder that museums and art galleries excel at. Very few things in society really duplicate that.”

*On staff morale during the pandemic:

Like other cultural institutions, the VAG hasn’t been spared financial challenges, he said.

The VAG has had to scale back its exhibition schedule and has laid off 15 employees. The gallery employs 139.

“I really want to get our staff back to work and working full time. That really weighs heavily on me,” he said.

“It’s hard to move forward when staff are working three, four days a week.”

He also mentioned the lingering affects of the strike at the VAG from Feb. 5 to Feb. 11, 2019 by members of CUPE Local 15.

“I really want to move beyond that and strengthen the internal culture of the gallery.”

REGINA, SASK : May 24, 2018  -- Workers install a sculpture by artist Duane Linklater, an internationally renowned Canadian artist on top of the MacKenzie Art Gallery on Albert Street. When finished, the sculpture is to read
In May, 2018, workers installed Kâkikê/Forever, an LED text work by Omaskêko Ininiwak (Cree) artist Duane Linklater on top of the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina. The full work reads “As long as the sun shines, the river flows, and the grass grows”. It refers to the words spoken by Indigenous leaders during treaty negotiations. Photo by BRANDON HARDER /Regina Leader-Post

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Teens behind latest art damage on Berlin's Museum Island – WellandTribune.ca

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BERLIN – Several teenagers sprayed graffiti on a piece of art outside one of Berlin’s most famous museums and that the vandalism was unrelated to the damaging of more than 60 other art works on the city’s Museum Island that were smeared with an oily liquid early this month, police said Saturday.

A huge granite bowl in front of the Altes Museum, which is part of the German capital’s museum complex and houses antiquities, was defaced Friday night by some teenagers and adults, Berlin police said. Two of the suspects were temporarily detained.

Museum Island is a UNESCO world heritage site in the heart of Berlin and one of the city’s main tourist attractions,

Dozens of other exhibits at the Museum Island complex were vandalized Oct. 3. Investigators said they had watched hours of surveillance camera footage but not found any obvious sign of anyone applying the liquid.

Museum experts have said the motive remains a mystery and there appeared to be no thematic link between the targeted works. They expressed optimism that the apparently random damage can be repaired.

Berlin police said the graffiti sprayed on the granite bowl did not have any political content or appear related to the damaging of the other art works.

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Teens behind latest art damage on Berlin's Museum Island – The Battlefords News-Optimist

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BERLIN — Several teenagers sprayed graffiti on a piece of art outside one of Berlin’s most famous museums and that the vandalism was unrelated to the damaging of more than 60 other art works on the city’s Museum Island that were smeared with an oily liquid early this month, police said Saturday.

A huge granite bowl in front of the Altes Museum, which is part of the German capital’s museum complex and houses antiquities, was defaced Friday night by some teenagers and adults, Berlin police said. Two of the suspects were temporarily detained.

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Museum Island is a UNESCO world heritage site in the heart of Berlin and one of the city’s main tourist attractions,

Dozens of other exhibits at the Museum Island complex were vandalized Oct. 3. Investigators said they had watched hours of surveillance camera footage but not found any obvious sign of anyone applying the liquid.

Museum experts have said the motive remains a mystery and there appeared to be no thematic link between the targeted works. They expressed optimism that the apparently random damage can be repaired.

Berlin police said the graffiti sprayed on the granite bowl did not have any political content or appear related to the damaging of the other art works.

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