|New World: Olia Mishchenko, Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor
The Koffler Gallery
January 10 to February 24, 2008
Curator: Mona Filip
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 10, 7 to 9 pm; Artist talk: 7 pm
Download the exhibition brochure here (PDF)
New World brings together video work by Romanian artists Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor, presented for the first time in Canada, and a new body of work by Toronto-based Olia Mishchenko. These artists address the elusive promise of progress through their shared experiences of growing up in Communist systems. While Vatamanu and Tudor witness daily the hopes and anxieties of a society struggling to redefine itself, Mishchenko has experienced the process of displacement and adaptation inherent to settling in a new land. Originating from distinct but sometimes overlapping viewpoints, the works presented at the Koffler Gallery address the turmoil and expectations intrinsic to rebuilding one’s life on unknown territory.
Infused with insight on bureaucratic structures and utopias of efficiency, Mishchenko’s work situates itself ambivalently, with humour and tenderness, between a critique of productivity gone mad and an enchantment with poetic idealism. Her meticulous pen and ink drawings depict what appears as a pre-industrial society of constructors, in the process of endless production. For this installation at the Koffler Gallery, Mishchenko develops a site-specific body of work, transferring this world-in-process directly unto the gallery walls. Visitors may discover through a viewfinder a landscape of impossible structures, piecing together an unfolding narrative about a space still in the making, relentlessly planned and built, yet never achieved.
In their practice, Vatamanu and Tudor investigate the visual, emotional, and socio-political aspects of the architectural landscape. Urban sites are examined as documents revealing layers of history in which the personal clashes with political ideology and state control. In their video piece, Il Mondo Novo, the construction site becomes a metaphor for the political territory of a nation that faces its own transformation with wary anticipation. The piece references an 18th Century fresco by Giandomenico Tiepolo in which a curious crowd gathers in front of a street performer’s tent, presumably to view images of the Americas projected through a new optic invention. In the video, a group of onlookers gaze out onto the still formless ground of a new building site. Marking the transition from old to new layers of architecture, the construction site is charged with expectation, inviting along with the viewers’ gazes their subjective projections.
In the current context of Toronto’s architectural revitalization, and of the upcoming transformation of the Koffler Centre of the Arts as part of the Sherman Campus redevelopment, our collective expectations are stimulated by passionate debates and visionary reflections. The process of re-imagining our homes, our cities, and our societies is fuelled by our need to dream and to actively construct our happiness while constantly readjusting to new ground. Ultimately, New World contributes relevant perspectives to the discussion of ideas about our shared future.
Organized in conjunction with the exhibition Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor: Living Units at Mercer Union, Front Gallery, from January 11 to February 16, 2008.
Olia Mishchenko is an emerging artist born in Ukraine and currently living in Toronto. She has been exhibiting in both solo and group shows since 2003, including Mercer Union, Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Diaz Contemporary, YYZ and Doris McCarthy Gallery and has recently participated in an artist residency in Münster, Germany. She is represented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art in Toronto. Mishchenko studied Architectural Theory and Fine Art History at the University of Toronto and she has worked at the Art Gallery of Ontario and YYZ Artists’ Outlet in Toronto. She is currently an educator at Oakville Galleries and a sessional instructor at OCAD.
Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor are emerging Romanian artists based in Bucharest who have worked together since 2000. They are representing Romania at the 2007 Venice Biennial and have exhibited widely at various institutions, including Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien, Berlin (2006);Isola Art Center, Milano (2005); Exit Art Gallery, New York (2004); Play Gallery, Berlin (2004); and Ludwig Museum, Budapest (2003). They have participated in numerous international festivals, such as Festival Rencontres Internationales Paris-Berlin (2005); Cybersonica 03, ICA, London (2003); and attended artist residencies at Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien, Berlin (2006); AIR Vienna (2005); USF Verftet, Bergen (2005); and Kunstlerhaus Buchsenhausen, Innsbruck (2004). Florin Tudor is currently a curator at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest, Romania. Tudor and Vatamanu have also collaborated on a number of independent curatorial projects.
Opening Reception and Artist Talk: New World will be on view in the Koffler Gallery from January 10 to February 24, 2008. The opening reception is on Thursday, January 10, from 7 to 9 pm, with an artist talk at 7 pm.
Living Units at Mercer Union: Living Units by Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor will be on view at Mercer Union from January 11 to February 16, 2008, with a reception on Friday, January 11 at 8 pm. For more information, please contact Dave Dyment at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416.536.1519, or visit www.mercerunion.org.
Panel Discussion: In conjunction with Living Units and New World, Mercer Union and the Koffler Gallery are organizing a panel discussion, Apocalypse – Now what? Art After Political Trauma, on Thursday, January 31, 2008, 6:30 pm, at Mercer Union. The panel will address contemporary art created in cultures that are still transitioning from the experience of a traumatizing political system. Including Calin Mihailescu, Adrian Blackwell, Gerald McMaster, Mario DiPaulantonio and moderator Georgiana Uhlyarik, the panel will examine ways in which artistic production reflects and analyzes the difficult past and still uncertain present, striving to shape new directions.
Free Guided Bus Tour: On Sunday, February 3, from 11:30 am to 5 pm, there will be a free guided bus tour from Mercer Union to Blackwood Gallery, Koffler Gallery, Doris McCarthy Gallery and Justina M. Barnicke Gallery. Please call (905) 828-3789 to reserve a seat.
Publication: A publication produced by the Koffler Gallery accompanies the exhibition and features an essay by curator Mona Filip.
Group Tours and Workshops: Gallery talks and tours are free. Group tours and workshops are also available and are offered in both French and English. For information, please call Mona Filip, Interim Curator at (416) 636-1880 x270.
Acknowledgements: The Koffler Gallery of the Koffler Centre of the Arts gratefully acknowledges the support of its patrons and members, Cultural Season Sponsor CIBC Wood Gundy, the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, Mercer Union, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Installation images: Isaac Applebaum.