Curated by Josephine Mills and David Smith
Selfies explores the much maligned social media phenomenon through art works from the U of L Art Collection as well as new works by Angela Glanzmann and the Cedar Tavern Singers.
The “selfie” posted to social media has become ubiquitous and much maligned as a sign that young people today are too self-focused and are not introspective, yet, as British cartoonist Jamie McKelvie posted to Twitter, no one complained when it was common place for wealthy white men to hire artists to paint their portraits. And, of course, the self-portrait has also long been a standard subject for artists. The works in the Selfies exhibition explore classic and contemporary self-representation and provide some context for our current understanding of this topic. The exhibition is displayed in both of the University of Lethbridge Art Galleries: in the Helen Christou Gallery (until February 6) and here in the Main Gallery (January 22 – March 19, 2015). Selfies features work from the U of L’s renowned collection that covers a spectrum of approaches to the self-portrait: traditional, abstract, and conceptual. As well, located here in the Main Gallery, there are two new video works by an emerging Halifax artist, Angela Glanzmann, that explore the use of self-representation within social media forms. Local duo the Cedar Tavern Singers will create a one-day performance project to accompany this exhibition. Adding to the conversation, undergraduate students in the Dept. of Art’s Art History/Museum Studies courses have contributed exhibition labels that provide more information on individual works as well as the student’s perspective on their selection. The students were free to choose their work – Ian Baxter&’s work proved most popular and thus his “Beauty Spots” has multiple labels.
David Smith and I co-curated this exhibition. Initially, I developed the idea both to broaden the discussion about “selfies” and also to support a conversation between gallery visitors and the U of L Art Gallery’s exhibitions and collection. From this basic idea, David then undertook the challenging task of searching the 14,000 works in the U of L Collection to find all the possible self-portraits from which we could select for the exhibition. He researched the broadest interpretation of the subject to find not only the obvious, classic versions but also the unconventional ones. The result gives an excellent sense of the diversity of the U of L Collection as this exhibition includes historical, modern, and contemporary works in a variety of media and by a range from well-known and international artists as well as local and more obscure names. Viewers can simply enjoy the variety of works or if interested, can add to the discussion through social media and by interacting with the social media artists in residence who will be active on the U of L Art Gallery’s Twitter feed throughout the exhibition. With changes in technology and the rise of social media, public galleries in Canada now permit, or even overtly welcome, visitors taking photographs of art works. It is an important way for people to connect with the art works as well as to promote the artists and galleries. Thus, visitors to the U of L Art Gallery can take photographs and post #MuseumSelfies to social media.
– Josephine Mills, Director/Curator, University of Lethbridge Art Gallery
A great idea for an exhibition of work from the collection may be completely irrelevant if there are no works in the collection to support such a show. Similarly if there are works available, but identifying them is impossible, it is very difficult to come up with a selection to fit the theme. This was one of the major challenges with selecting the works for Selfies. Not all self-portraits in the collection can be easily identified in a single search. Titles range from the standard Self-Portrait to Portrait of the Artist and even into more challenging titles like The Artist and His Son Among the Islands. Some of the research done for this exhibition was reflecting upon personal experience having seen specific works. Those such as Jin Me Yoon’s, Souvenirs of the Self and Ian Baxter&’s Reflected Paris Beauty Spots were only familiar to me because I have physically handled them. Other works such as Carl Beam’s Cross & Self Validate were only brought to my attention through conversation with individuals familiar with this collection. The list of works in this exhibition is by no means comprehensive; I am learning about more “selfies” in the collection all the time.
– David Smith, Assistant Curator, University of Lethbridge Art Gallery
Loneliness is a place of trauma, vulnerability, humour, radicalism, criticality, intimacy, earnestness and disgust. As individuals, we are terrified that loneliness may seep under our skin and infect our bodies, but it is an inevitable phenomenon that is universally experienced in many different ways. I continue to make work with themes of loneliness because it is so multifaceted and never strikes in the same way twice. Recounting personal narratives, outlining socio-political conditions and describing physical spaces are all ways that I develop these sensations, feelings and questions into something tangible and larger than myself. I work through these investigations via sculpture, video, performance and installation depending on the conditions of the project that I want to carry through.
– Angela Glanzmann
Angela Glanzmann is an emerging artist living and working in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Having graduated from NSCAD University in 2013, Glanzmann works in sculpture, video, installation and performance. Her work centres on themes of survival and loneliness, and has been exhibited in galleries and artist run centers in Halifax and Edinburgh. Glanzmann has exhibited at the Old Ambulance Depot in Edinburgh, at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax, and her installations have been featured in Halifax’s Nocturne: Art at Night Festival and in the contemporary art program The Airport Project at Stanfield International Airport. In 2013, she was awarded a Media Art Scholarship from the Centre for Art Tapes, where she completed her first animation. Glanzmann was recently chosen to participate in a mentorship program through Visual Arts Nova Scotia (VANS), an artist resource centre located in Halifax.