by Amish Morrell
In this issue, which is about “location” in all its complex geographic and social meanings, contributors discuss the work of a number of artists whose work explores the relationship between place, language and images. Among the essays in this issue, Corrine Fitzpatrick writes about the work of Etel Adnan, a Lebanese-American poet, essayist and painter, whose practice moves back and forth between visual and written modes of working, evocatively describing the political and physical landscapes the artist has inhabited throughout her 90 years of life. Kimberly Phillips describes two recent exhibitions by Canadian artist Marian Penner Bancroft and Israeli artist Noa Giniger, presenting a meditation on the melancholic character of the image, and how these two artists offer images as ways of enacting relationships to places and times that can no longer be accessed. Nicholas Brown examines Dutch artist Renzo Martens’ Institute for Human Activities (IHA), a project where Martens established an institution for research, therapy and creative production on a former plantation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Simultaneously critiquing and enacting many of the problems associated with international foreign aid, the IHA reveals deeply entrenched global disparities in the production and consumption of images. Also in this issue, Alexandra Phillips looks at why Berlin has become the destination of choice for Canadian artists, and what this says about the influence of transnational travel on artistic production. And, more pragmatically, in Stopover, an artist project by Stephanie Loveless and Alexis Bhagat, fellow artists are asked what they think about the Greyhound terminal in Albany, NY, an inevitable stopping point for those travelling between their respective home cities of Montreal and New York.
While we typically use the features section of the magazine to explore a theme to which we’ve asked writers to respond, such as Walking (the theme of our previous issue), or Wet (the theme of our next issue), our theme for this issue emerged from proposals that we received from writers. Reviews, on the other hand, are not explicitly connected to any given issue theme. They do, however, innately express and produce location, positioning artists’ work within national and international matrices of contemporary art practice. And while reviews serve a similar function as features, in providing critical discussion of an artist’s work, the review format aims for a higher degree of stylistic consistency and geographical breadth, making connections between work happening all across the globe.
The review also offers both writers and readers a consistent and predictable format. Over the past few years we’ve found that the 1,000-word review is the optimal length for a sustained discussion of an exhibition. Writers have engaged the review format with eloquent and illuminating interpretations of the projects they cover, enriching the experiences of both viewers and readers. We’re especially proud of the quality of the writing in this section of the magazine, and of the work being reviewed. As this issue goes to press, Canada’s national daily, The Globe and Mail, announced that Graeme Patterson and Chris Curreri, both of whom are featured in the reviews section, have been shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award, one of Canada’s most prestigious prizes for artists. We’re proud of all the artists in this issue for the quality and importance of their work, as well as for the recognition they have received.
C Magazine is in itself an expression of “location”. Perhaps this issue is an opportunity to think of it as a map of global contemporary art practice with Canada at its centre.