Formerly Exit Five: Portable Monuments to Recent History

Michael Alstad, Factoria, site specific installation (factoria saskatoon), recycled water bottles, solar powered LED’s, photograph, 2010

September 17 – December 17, 2010
College Art Galleries ÷ Kenderdine Art Gallery
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon

Artists: Vahram Aghasyan, Michael Alstad, Cyprien Gaillard, Sara Graham, Paul Griffin, Isabelle Hayeur, Craig Leonard, Andrew King + Angela Silver, David Rokeby, Denyse Thomasos

Curated by Shauna McCabe

While place and history retain currency, contemporary landscapes are defined by increasingly fluid understandings of location, memory, and identity. The modern rise of what Marc Augé described as the “non-place” is not only reflected in processes like urban sprawl and the erosion of geographic particularities, but also increasingly accelerated and condensed cycles of landscape transformation and, sometimes, erasure. Undermining traditional bases for collective meaning and identification, the possibility for indelible markers of memory has given way to temporary reference points – the “just past” of the present – and vague terrains bearing no trace of the past at all.

The artists in Formerly Exit Five all start from a concern with understanding the composition of these changing experiences of time and space as they have glimpsed and encountered them in everyday spaces – from city streets and highways, to urban outskirts and interstitial zones. Responding in a variety of media and international locations, they have sought to grasp the workings of contemporary cultural memory, considering the kinds of commemoration that could capture the persistence of the past in the present, and the meaning of what remains.

The diverse works presented here constitute a range of poetic “portable monuments,” highlighting the elusive transience of the contemporary and the implications for the way we invest built environments with memory. As they arc between the new and the old, each artist evokes important imaginings of recent history. Charting rapidly dimming reservoirs of cultural memory, they document vital aspects of our changed cultural experience, casting direct light upon the now.

Curated by Shauna McCabe and organised by the Kenderdine Art Gallery with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Public projects of Michael Alstad and Craig Leonard were facilitated with the assistance of the Artists and Community Collaboration Program of the Canada Council for the Arts in cooperation with the Meewasin Valley Authority, Saskatoon.