The Power Plant

A Sign in the Northwest Passage

Kevin Schmidt

Past Exhibition

May 01 – Sep 05 2011

Kevin Schmidt, A Sign in the Northwest Passage, 2010. Courtesy the artist and Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver.

As part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, we co-present a billboard project on the south facade of The Power Plant by Vancouver-based artist Kevin Schmidt. Facing Lake Ontario, Schmidt’s A Sign in the Northwest Passage (2010) documents the artist’s recent project near Tuktoyaktuk. Aided by local guides and workers, Schmidt erected a large hand-routed cedar sign displaying an ominous text drawn from the Book of Revelations. Describing in vivid detail the decimation of the earth and of humankind, the sculpture broadcasts a warning that it seems no one is actually present to receive. However, this barren landscape is actually the site of major oil reserves, and thus the potential for devastating exploitation. When the seasonal ice melts, the sign will float away to parts unknown, bringing its cataclysmic message with it.

Kevin Schmidt (born in Ottawa, 1972) received his BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. Throughout his career, Schmidt has explored the highly constructed cultural codings of the Canadian landscape.Working primarily with photography, video and installation, Schmidt has had solo exhibitions at such venues as the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2011), Mercer Union, Toronto (2005) and Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver (2004). He has also been included in recent group exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery (2009), Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris (2007) and Witte de With, Rotterdam (2007). Schmidt is based in Vancouver, where he is represented by the Catriona Jeffries Gallery.

A Sign in the Northwest Passage is part of a series of public photographic installations in CONTACT 2011: Figure and Ground, which will explore the photographic image as a construction of figure and ground and the “gestalt” of the landscape – its whole effect, the sum of its parts and their dynamic interrelation.

Schmidt’s video Disappearing Act is included in The Power Plant exhibition To What Earth Does This Sweet Cold Belong? (11 March – 29 May 2011). Schmidt will also be the focus of a solo exhibition at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto, running from 8 June – 20 August 2011.

Co-presented with

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

Summer 2011 Program Guide

Click here to read more about The Power Plant's Summer 2011 exhibitions and programming for the season!


Courtesy of Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Courtesy of Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Courtesy of Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.