January 25 - August 29, 2020
Esker Foundation presented an in-depth look at Katie Ohe’s sculptural practice and her unparalleled approach to material, form, space, and movement. This exhibition brought together sculptural work spanning six decades of Ohe’s remarkable career, marking the largest and most comprehensive solo exhibition of her work to date. The exhibition also drew from Ohe’s material archive, revealing a glimpse of a process devoted to research, inquiry, and visual or formal problem solving.
Ohe is best known for her abstract steel sculptures; organic forms that evoke the undulatory surface of a pool of water, the crest of a rolling hill or cumulonimbus cloud, or the cadence of a walking figure. The surfaces of many of these sculptures are subsequently chromed or polished, creating a flawlessly smooth exterior that conjures an illusion of weightlessness and is also irresistible to touch. Indeed, many of Ohe’s works are fully activated only by the push of a human hand. She remarks, “I want my sculptures to induce or invoke touch before you think that you really shouldn’t.”
February 3 - August 9, 2020
As we deplete the earth’s resources to manufacture and power consumer products, we destroy ecosystems. When such objects are deemed obsolete, these pieces of our contemporary material culture are consigned to landfills and further continue the sequence of ecological devastation. In response to the destructive cycle of late capitalist consumer culture, Anna Gustafson began enshrouding discarded appliances in old, white linen; a manner historically used by many cultures to prepare the dead for burial. Intrigued by this ritual, the material problem solving, the physical, repetitive labour involved, and of course, the enveloped object’s transformation, Gustafson came to understand this process as a way to individuate each item, and to honour the destruction necessary to make and power them. For this installation of Object Lessons, Gustafson includes the ubiquitous leaf blower. Once disruptors in our neighbourhoods, they now float mutely through their new context of decommissioned remote controls.
Presented in partnership with The New Gallery.
September 28 - December 20, 2019
Time Carriers conjures a vision of many hands providing a framework of support, a fluid utopia where trust and movement go hand in hand. It evokes a time frame that both unites and collapses present, past, and future into an undulating and responsive single unit, something that could best be described as community or family. This idea is especially appropriate when considering Jeffrey Gibson’s work, as he has always pushed to create kinship among unlikely partners. Collaboration is at the heart of his practice; working and learning with artists and craftspeople as a way to resist acculturation, support a strong legacy of making, and to build and honour community.
October 19, 2019
Atlantic Avenue Art Block Lobby
In a special performance as part of Jeffrey Gibson’s exhibition Time Carriers at Esker Foundation, fifty performers were brought together for a drumming event to give names to our current political climate. This performance, presented in partnership with Springboard Performance, as part of the 2019 Fluid Festival, was a component of Jeffrey Gibson’s exhibition Time Carriers.
September 28 - December 20, 2019
Curated by cheyanne turions
Divine of Form, Formed in the Divine (Medicine for a Nightmare) examines how memories persist in the present, especially when related to personal and collective practices of resistance, resilience, and ritual. This mid-career survey is anchored by recent works that reflect upon Sikh histories amongst other collectively formed and formative histories considered through collaborations with Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes and Nicholas Galanin. Across different bodies of work produced over the last decade, Sidhu explores how memorialization practices can transfigure grief and loss, and how they can speak to the power and harmony of the divine.
The exhibition is produced in partnership with Mercer Union, Toronto and Esker Foundation, Calgary. Support in part for the project is through the Ontario Arts Council.
October 28, 2019 - January 26, 2020
Marjie Crop Eared Wolf continues her ongoing project to learn Blackfoot in the drawing, sound, and video installation, ‘Iitsi’poyi.’ Using thousands of Blackfoot words transcribed from the ‘Blackfoot Dictionary’ as well as an audio tape made by her mother, this work addresses cultural legacy and resilience by actively engaging in language preservation.
July 29 - October 20, 2019
‘Qiniqtuaq’ (searching/looking) invites viewers to peer through a multi-eyed ghost sheet to witness a looping projection of a video collage screened in front of a piece of oil-stained cardboard. ‘Qiniqtuaq’ is meant to evoke a dream-like state imaging a hypothetical place and time; a representation of what is felt but not known. ‘Qiniqtuaq’ invites a presence of nostalgia, spectatorship, and diaspora.
Kablusiak is an Inuvialuk artist and curator based in Mohkinstsis and holds a BFA in Drawing from the Alberta University of the Arts, Calgary. They use art and humour as a coping mechanism to address cultural displacement. The lighthearted nature of their practice extends gestures of empathy and solidarity; these interests invite a reconsideration of the perceptions of contemporary Indigeneity.
June 1 - August 30, 2019
Among All These Tundras, a title taken from the poem ‘My Home is in My Heart’ by famed Sámi writer Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, features contemporary art by Indigenous artists from around the circumpolar world. Together, their works politically and poetically express current Arctic concerns towards land, language, sovereignty and resurgence. Artists from throughout the circumpolar north share kinship with each other and their ancestors, love for their homelands, and respect for the land and its inhabitants.
June 1 - August 30, 2019
Esker Foundation is pleased to present selected films from the first large-scale tour of Igloolik Inuit video art from the Isuma and Arnait Women’s Video collective, a collection of over 40 works (short films, documentaries, and feature films) from 1987 to today. It is the product of a 30-year filmmaking practice rooted in Inuit values of consensus, working together, service to the community, and cultural authenticity. It is also a non-hierarchical collaborative artistic vision developed by eight celebrated video artists (six Inuit and two non-Inuit): Zacharias Kunuk, Paul Apak Angilirq, Pauloosie Qulitalik, Madeline Ivalu, Susan Avingaq, Mary Kunuk, Norman Cohn, and Marie- Hélène Cousineau.
This collection highlights the unique power of Inuit filmmaking: an approach that challenges individualistic notions of the “artist,” and centers itself in an ethical obligation to serve Inuit first through thoughtful self-representation. Beyond the immediate social effects of cultural production and cooperation, the work of Isuma and Arnait is also a model for how non-Indigenous artists can contribute to decolonial artistic practice.
May 6 - July 21, 2019
‘Occlusion Field’ is a singular moment in time and space made of the stuff of trans defense mechanism: tattoos, liquid gender concepts, and hormonally transforming surfaces that come together to speak to an idiosyncrasy, a gestalt, a whole that transcends its constitutive parts. The Field is a shifting space of images and materials that represent the space between you and me. Beyond that space is me and you, respectively: two Occlusions who belie understanding, who promote narratives of deflection and anxiety. The Field, however, isn’t necessarily keen to divulge its disparate natures; it needs to be seen, first.
Presented in partnership with Untitled Art Society.