Tag Archives: Frances Loeffler

What we’re reading

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This month the curatorial office at Oakville Galleries has been reading Jane Urquhart’s A Number of Things, a series of meditations on fifty objects, each offering a glimpse into the complex history of Canada’s nationhood.

Art, by its very nature, has always been concerned with objects. Our current exhibition, Propped, thinks about how objects take on new meanings when they are used or activated in certain ways. The opposite might also be true: surely we are changed by our interactions with objects; the stories they tell about us, the influence they have on our lives.


In the inaugural talk for our new Authors on Art series last week, Urquhart spoke beautifully to these ties, describing how her own life has been enmeshed with and gained meaning from certain objects—from crockery and a pair of slippers to photographs, homes and memorial stones.

Image: Visitor with Abbas Akhavan’s work. Photo: Mike Dopsa.

Video: Who’s Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea?

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Curator Frances Loeffler discusses Cosima von Bonin’s solo exhibition Who’s Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea? at Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens.

The exhibition is co-curated by SculptureCenter Curator Ruba Katrib and Glasgow International Director Sarah McCrory. Organized by Glasgow International and SculptureCenter, New York. This exhibition is part of Germany @ Canada 2017, Partners from Immigration to Innovation. Cosima von Bonin is a guest of the Goethe-Institut. Video by Mike Dopsa.

What we’re reading

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This month the curatorial office at Oakville Galleries is reading Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life. For a long time, humans have thought themselves to be exceptionally clever, more so than other species. Philosopher Godfrey-Smith suggests that this is not so. We are not superior to the other animals with which we share a planet; we are just differently intelligent. One certainly gets that sense with the creatures that populate Cosima von Bonin’s current exhibition in Gairloch Gardens. They are mysterious and yet also a bit human-like, misbehaving—a shark at a school desk is not acting as most sharks do!—and crafty, not only because they are (for the most part) hand-stitched, but also because they are surely “up to something.”

5_TH_0488Staying on theme, next on our reading list is Fifteen Dogs, a novel by André Alexis about a pack of dogs that the gods Apollo and Hermes have imbued with human consciousness and language. A perfect accompaniment to Sojourner Truth Parsons’ exhibition down the road at Centennial Square.

Image: Installation view of Cosima von Bonin, HAI AM TISCH 1, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Neu, Berlin. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Etel Adnan: Sea and Fog

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Oakville Galleries’ current exhibition takes its title, Sea and Fog, from a 2012 publication by Etel Adnan. As with many of Adnan’s written works, weather phenomena and motifs from the natural world—the sea, the sun, fog, fires, deserts and storms—form a continuous backdrop to a series of prose-poetry meditations on time, place, poetry, war, love and loss.

She writes, for example: The sky fell and storms blew on its face. It sank deeper; in that maelstrom humans lost balance. There were fires on earth and questioning in the waters.

Despite the dark charge of such passages, however, the sea, as ever, is a restorative force: We fear violence, but more feared is its absence. So heavy is the world becoming. Heavy in the soul. A few laps in the ocean will bring rest.

And later in the book she urges her readers to: Look well at the Pacific before you die. The best of the promised paradises have neither its hues nor its splendor.

With this book, Adnan continues to eloquently give voice to the trauma of an increasingly unsettled world, and to remind us that art, poetry, and the natural world may offer much-needed moments of liberation, resistance and respite.

Etel-Adnan-4Images (top to bottom): Selected poetry and prose by Etel Adnan; Installation view of Etel Adnan: Sea and Fog at Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens. Left: Montagnes 4, 2015, india ink on paper. Centre: Forêt automnale, 2015, wool tapestry. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong. Photos: Toni Hafkenscheid.

The visual poetry of Jim Andrews

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bpNichol’s animated computer poem 
First Screening is one of the centre-points of our current exhibition, Down To Write You This Poem Sat. Originally developed for the Apple IIe computer and made available on floppy disc, the poems were nearly rendered inaccessible when that technology became obsolete. It’s thanks to Jim Andrews and the visual poets at vispo.com that we’re able to experience them today. Andrews and his team have carefully restored and preserved the work, migrating it to a series of contemporary formats.

From Victoria, BC, Andrews has been publishing vispo.com since 1996. Before that he produced a literary radio show called Fine Lines and later ?FRAME?. Of bpNichol, Andrews says: “I met bpNichol when I was producing the radio show. His parents lived in Victoria; he’d visit occasionally. He kindly appeared on the show a couple of times. I gave him a ride to the station once in my little yellow Honda. He told me about having recently ‘discovered writing for television.’ He wrote for Fraggle Rock, a much beloved Muppets spin-off.”

Of his own work, he says: “I thought of myself as a poet but was not interested in the usual modus operandi of publishing poemy poems in the little magazines. Radio was an interesting exploration of the literary for me, and then when the web came along, I fell hard for its multi-medial and potentially intermedial possibilities, and also its ability to reach an international audience in ways that I couldn’t otherwise.”

To experience some of our favourite visual poems by Jim Andrews, click on the following links and (as Andrews advises): “Turn out the lights! Turn up the sound! Throw away your preconceptions about poetry!”

Man of Letters (1996)
The Pop Up Poems (1996-98)
Seattle Drift (1997)
Enigma (1998)
Stir Fry Texts (ongoing)
Nio (2001)
A Pen (2007)
Langrid (2014)

Image: Installation view (detail) of bpNichol, First Screening, 1983-1984. Courtesy of the estate of bpNichol. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Video: Down To Write You This Poem Sat

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Curator Frances Loeffler discusses the exhibition Down To Write You This Poem Sat on now at Oakville Galleries. Video by Mike Dopsa.