The Power Plant

Nothing to Declare: Current Sculpture from Canada

Valérie Blass, James Carl, Liz Magor, Luanne Martineau, Tricia Middleton, Gareth Moore, Michael Murphy, Kerri Reid, Brendan Tang, Kara Uzelman, Rhonda Weppler & Trevor Mahovsky

Past Exhibition

Dec 10 2009 – Mar 06 2010

Nothing to Declare: Current Sculpture from Canada Valérie Blass, James Carl, Liz Magor, Luanne Martineau, Tricia Middleton, Gareth Moore, Michael Murphy, Kerri Reid, Brendan Tang, Kara Uzelman, Rhonda Weppler & Trevor Mahovsky 11 December, 2009 - 7 March, 2010 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Curated by Helena Reckitt


Abandoning sculpture’s traditional job of memorializing the great and the good, the artworks in this exhibition instead revel in humble materials and everyday processes. Resisting abstract and overarching statements, meanings and metaphors result form intensive experimentation and improvisation. As such, the show highlights the renewed interest of contemporary artists – emerging, mid-career and senior – in objects and materials. The work explores sculpture’s status and function, its history and future.

Often straddling the boundary between figuration and abstraction, elegance and awkwardness, invention and decay, the works in the exhibition can seem ambiguous, open-ended and messy. This tentative quality mirrors the mood of our uncertain times, while the artists’ ad hoc working methods suggest resourcefulness in the face of adversity. At times it is not clear if the artists are in charge of their materials or if the materials are in charge of the artists. Some artworks appear to battle against gravity or deflation while others seem to have accepted the inevitability of entropy, disintegration and disappearance.

Unassuming craft, household and DIY production processes dominate. Where the artists do use conventional sculptural techniques and media, they put them to mischievously paradoxical ends. Many incorporate pre-existing objects and substances, especially those with little financial or cultural value. While such strategies so recycling might suggest an environmental impulse, few works in the show are explicitly political. Instead they tend to make their points with lightness, wit and humility, with "nothing to declare."

Yet, as is often the case when we make such a claim, this show smuggles in foreign baggage: partly by mixing unexpected materials and references, but also by combining artists born in Canada with those who have immigrated to the country, creating a heterogeneous picture of Canadian creativity. Taking place in conjunction with a solo exhibition by the internationally renowned Canadian artist Michael Snow, Nothing to Declare continues The Power Plant’s twenty-two-year tradition of presenting Canada’s most engaging and influential contemporary artists in an international context.

This exhibition will be accompanied by an essay by curator Helena Reckitt in SWITCH, The Power Plant’s biannual magazine of contemporary art.

PRESENTING SPONSOR

Polymerized gypsum. Collection of Dell Pohlman and Lauren Raymore Pohlman. Courtesy Equinox Gallery, Vancouver.

Photo: Steve Payne.

Photo: Steve Payne.

Photo: Steve Payne.

Courtesy the artist. Photo: Steve Payne.

Ceramic and mixed media. Courtesy the artist. Right: Nothing to Declare with work by Valérie Blass, Kara Uzelman and Luanne Martineau. Photo: Steve Payne.

About the Artist


Valérie Blass

Valérie Blass. Photo: Maryse Larivère.