Gabrielle Moser

  • Native Art Department International

    The husband-and-wife team of Jason Lujan and Maria Hupfield—aka Native Art Department International, a collaborative enterprise that, according to the duo, operates as an “emancipation from identity-based artwork”—presented “Bureau of Aesthetics,” a solo exhibition at Mercer Union and NADI’s first in Canada. Barriers, both physical and visual, abound: At the entrance to the exhibition is a large, Judd-like structure built from sheets of fluorescent-pink acrylic wedged between wood beams (Construction, 2019). The rectilinear form literally interrupts viewers’ paths and screws with our sight lines,

  • Stephanie Temma Hier

    Entanglement, both material and affective, is the operating logic in Stephanie Temma Hier’s ongoing series of sculptural paintings. Photorealistic oil paintings of found imagery—much of it seemingly stock photography—are embedded in three-dimensional ceramic frames ornamented with clay renderings of everyday objects, including bell peppers, overgrown garden snails, and speckled spheres resembling gumballs. Although Hier replicates familiar forms, the way she juxtaposes them produces a mounting sense of unease. At the entrance to the exhibition, Wonderful for Other People (all works 2020) depicted

  • Hajra Waheed

    If an exhibition is a letter, to whom is it addressed? The viewer is the obvious answer, but artworks also, of course, direct themselves to others: lovers and children, mentors and colleagues, unknown future audiences who might find within the work a blueprint for radical acts of hope and defiance.

    “Hold Everything Dear,” Hajra Waheed’s current solo show, has at its heart such an epistolary address. Titled after a 2007 collection of John Berger’s essays, the show builds on a 2017 performance in which the artist manipulated a sheet of black cinefoil on a light projector, revealing a constellation

  • picks April 16, 2019

    Pamila Matharu and Sister Co-Resister

    Pamila Matharu and Sister Co-Resister's exhibition uses the archive as a method for locating the self. Encompassing video, sculpture, photography, personal artifacts, and a site-specific installation, “One of These Things is Not Like the Other” is structured by experiences of intergenerational trauma as faced by three different women—the writer Lakshmi Gill, the late modernist painter Amrita Sher-Gil, and Matharu herself—weaving these personal histories into transnational narratives of dispossession and resistance.

    The show opens with a new video by Matharu, stuck between an archive and an

  • picks January 29, 2019

    Tim Whiten

    An altar, a prayer book, a reliquary, a miniature temple, and two crosses are arranged around a casket at the center of Tim Whiten’s solo exhibition “Suspend.” Glowing eerily in the natural light, the crystalline glass of the casket, Who-Man/Amen, 2015-16, protects a wrapped skeleton, whose toes are visible through oval windows along the top of the sculpture. The surrounding works might be read as props for a funerary rite, objects of devotion, or tools for warding off evil spirits. This ambiguity between threat and protector, decay and renewal, sets the stage for the show’s dramatic take on

  • Rebecca Belmore

    In a rare self-portrait by Rebecca Belmore, the artist stands at a distance with her back to the camera, unrecognizable in a bright-orange work suit, its fluorescent X demarcating her shoulders against a huge expanse of plastic tarp. Safety vests appear throughout her photographs as uniforms for the artist as worker, but they also serve a signatory function: On land treaties with the British colonial government, indigenous leaders often marked their names with an X. In wearing this sign in the Canadian landscape, Belmore asserts her presence as both resident and author, marker and maker, whose

  • picks August 14, 2017

    Tau Lewis and Curtis Santiago

    An admixture of antagonism and vulnerability animates the faces looking out from Curtis Santiago’s paintings and those staring back from Tau Lewis’s sculptures, visages that dare you to care. Entering the gallery, one is immediately confronted by Lewis’s you lose shreds of your truth every time I remember you (all works 2017), a seated male figure with eyes downcast, shoulders hunched forward. He holds the end of a leash tethered to a small creature sitting cross-legged on the floor next to him—tufts of soft fur stretch across its wire and twig skeleton. The rusted chain linking the two connotes

  • picks June 09, 2016

    Annie MacDonell

    “When you are two-to-one, then the work becomes easier,” a woman’s voice intones as a pair of hands gingerly places documentary photographs of political protest in front of the camera in one of the untitled videos (all works 2016) that make up Annie MacDonell’s exhibition “Holding Still // Holding Together.” Blending practical instructions from nonviolent civil disobedience training (“Stretch your body out to achieve maximum contact against the ground beneath you”) with meditations on the slippery nature of embodiment (“To be lifted by three men is to feel like an oversize object: a stuffed

  • picks November 24, 2014

    Karen Kraven

    The title of Karen Kraven’s first institutional solo exhibition, “Razzle Dazzle Sis Boom Bah,” signals the Montreal-based artist’s infectious enthusiasm for mimicry, subterfuge, and speculation across a new body of work comprising sculpture, photography, and ceramics. Like a modern-day incantation, the phrase begs to be spoken aloud, evoking the shimmering strands of cheerleaders’ pom-poms and the emphatic sounds of exploding fireworks. Such exuberance is everywhere on display here, including in a series where six elaborately decorated women’s hats made of delicate straw latticing are perched

  • picks February 20, 2014


    One of the largest works in this group exhibition, Abbas Akhavan’s Study for Blue Shield, 2011, is only visible by aerial surveillance. A piece of the gallery’s drywall has been cut out and painted in a pattern of blue and white diamonds. Located on the roof of the gallery, the shield, which replicates a crest designed by UNESCO to identify and protect sites of cultural heritage during armed conflict, is invisible to viewers but is on display for passing helicopters or drones.

    Akhavan’s gesture—an incisive commentary on the threats posed by, and to, art in a surveillance state—is a fitting

  • picks June 01, 2013

    Elizabeth Zvonar

    “Banal Baroque,” Elizabeth Zvonar’s current exhibition of sculpture and collage, riffs on themes of bodily and sexual excess, recontextualizing mass-produced objects, magazine advertisements, and mannequin parts to animate the uncanny treatment of the human figure that lies dormant in this source material. While her juxtapositions might recall the psychically charged scenes of Surrealist and Dadaist collage (particularly Hannah Höch), in Zvonar’s work the human body is truncated and interrupted, broken down into a series of useless but fascinating objects for visual consumption.

    Marcel Meets Judy

  • picks May 03, 2013

    David Askevold

    If there remains any doubt that a goofy sense of humor and amateurish enthusiasm—alongside a reliance on rational systems and a dry self-referentiality—underpinned much of the conceptual art produced in the 1960s and ’70s, this retrospective of work by the late Halifax-based artist David Askevold should convince even the most committed skeptics. Curated by David Diviney, “Once Upon a Time in the East” brings together sculptures, installations, films, photographs, and computer-generated images made by Askevold over his forty-year career, offering a portrait of an artist whose work seems to

  • picks February 20, 2013

    Jon Sasaki

    Jon Sasaki has perfected the persona of the eternally optimistic everyman in his video and performance works over the past several years. In his latest exhibition, he turns his conceptually inflected wit to the messy particulate matter that underpins the Canadian obsession with the landscape, unearthing both its lyricism and its bathos.

    A suite of three large-scale photographs anchors the exhibition, which comprises painting, photography, sculpture, and video projects. Documenting bacterial cultures that the artist grew in petri dishes from swabs of the palettes once used by Group of Seven

  • picks April 12, 2012

    Jason de Haan

    Jason de Haan’s solo show takes its title, “Year Zero,” from a moment in time that does not exist. The term is absent from the traditional Anno Domini calendar system but is used by astronomers and science fiction authors to denote a fixed point in time after a significant event, connoting apocalyptic ends as well as cycles of rebirth.

    It is a fitting title for a body of work that is obsessively engaged with creating visual records of the deep geologic time of the earth and the speculative future of human development. In the two works that form the centerpiece of the exhibition, New Jerusalem,

  • picks February 28, 2012

    Valérie Blass

    Valérie Blass’s clever sculptures engage viewers in an engrossing but disconcerting guessing game, suggesting familiar forms while purposefully resisting easy recognition. Comprising almost thirty works, Blass’s largest exhibition to date provides an overdue survey of the artist’s recent (the earliest work dates from 2005) but prolific practice. Curator Lesley Johnstone has assembled some of Blass’s strongest pieces here, including a wide array of her arresting, life-size human-animal hybrids that combine traditional sculpting materials with found objects.

    Blass’s works are not discordant

  • picks January 16, 2012

    “Coming After”

    Spanning installation, drawing, photography, performance, and video, this ambitious exhibition brings together sixteen artists—almost all of whom were born after 1970—whose works reflect on the period of queer radicalism witnessed in North America from the 1980s through the ’90s. Meditating on themes of nostalgia, loss, and latency, the show consistently evokes a feeling of having arrived too late to directly participate in this traumatic but galvanizing political moment.

    Curator Jon Davies opens the show with a smartly selected group of video works that link past cultural icons with contemporary

  • picks November 14, 2011

    Didier Courbot

    A relentless but fraught optimism informs Didier Courbot’s works. In his latest suite of eight large-scale color photographs, the French artist documents a series of actions he carried out in Parisian streets. On encountering discarded furniture, the artist used the items’ constituent parts to create site-specific temporary objects that take on personalities all their own. In Oh No! (all works 2011), for instance, the metal base of an office chair has been twisted into the form of a human figure falling into, or hurling itself against, a stone wall. French Thonet reworks a coatrack designed by

  • picks October 17, 2011

    Barbara Astman

    Barbara Astman’s latest series of photographs, all reproductions of collages, takes the artist’s long-standing interest in the circulation of iconic public images into the rich territory of the quotidian. Astman collected the images presented in this exhibition from newspapers over the course of a year, clipping each as she read the daily paper and pasting them into a small Moleskine notebook. A selection have been reproduced as large-scale photographs and sixteen are exhibited in the gallery.

    Rather than being an attempt to distill news stories, Astman’s combinations are playful and impulsive,