Richard Rhodes

  • “From Sea to Shining Sea”

    This exhibition, curated by A. A. Bronson—a member of General Idea and founder of Art Metropole, an artist's book center—marked the 20th anniversary of artist-run spaces in Canada. The title is an ironic translation of A mari usque ad mare, the motto that stretches on a scroll between the British lion and the French unicorn on the Canadian coat of arms (ironic, because Bronson has borrowed the English phrase from the anthem “America the Beautiful”).

    Bronson wants us to forget the Canada of forests, plains, mountains, and tundra. Instead he wants us to think about Canada as it’s represented in a

  • Jeff Wall

    Jeff Wall’s boxed-in, backlit, Cibachrome images have a crisp, clear sense of trespass. His format—appropriated from the world of advertising—takes ultrastudied, art-historically derived images across the line that separates media culture from high art.

    This is sacrosanct territory for appropriation art: the place where art and commerce conduct proprietorial battle over the image. Wall’s contribution is in making an appropriation art that refuses to settle the score, refuses almost to play the game. All that’s left is a kind of brute visibility, an image where the ideological constructs of

  • Robert Wiens

    Sculptor Robert Wiens is more of a polemicist than a poet. His work is about the big political subjects—torture, censorship, militarism, poverty. But Wiens is canny about his political content. He knows that the topicality of such subjects can seem like headline hunting, borrowing emotion and misfortune that often have little to do with the work itself. It’s a problem of safe worlds looking at sad worlds—of authenticity—and Wiens is careful to account for his place and his projections in the midst of the larger political realm. This gives his work its moral tone. He brings the headlines back

  • Noel Harding

    The high-tech componentry in Noel Harding’s sculpture is distinguished by its ability to resist a quick descent into sci-fi. While it’s as slick, polished, and alienating as any high tech, Harding presents it so that it seems no more strange than a remote control for a VCR For him, high tech is a sign of the familiar.

    Harding has incorporated this kind of hardware into his work since the late ’70s—earlier if you count his work in video, where working with high tech is the norm. His first sculptures were mechanized environments that seemed like science projects but managed to convey a domestic

  • Robert McNealy

    Robert McNealy’s installations can seem like junkyard inventories. Each is an odd assortment of rough-looking objects plunked down on the gallery floor. McNealy’s anthropology background—before he started making sculpture he did postgraduate work in anthropology, going on a dig in Central America—accounts for the work’s fundamental fragmentariness. Out of his concatenations of broken, found, and remade images and objects McNealy attempts to trace the outlines of the dismembered superstructure of a culture.

    This fragmentariness links the work with much recent British sculpture. But unlike, for