Anna Gustafson: Object Lessons

February 3 - August 9, 2020

Presented in partnership with The New Gallery

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.

Beginning with nearly any small abandoned appliance she could find—in particular kitchenware, including kettles, toasters, pots, and irons—Gustafson’s focus soon shifted to encompass objects that might resonate more strongly and universally upon contemporary, common ground: consumer electronics such as remote controls, entertainment electronics, and film and slide projectors. By enshrouding these ubiquitous items, Gustafson’s work extends a broad address to those that hold the decision-making power behind the destruction of our natural world.

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.

Call to Community

As part of this exhibition Gustafson has made a call out to the community for contributions to the ongoing Object Lessons project by donating items that will be enshrouded. Gustafson is currently collecting remote controls, film and slide projectors, film cans, slide carousels, flashlights along with white cotton and linen fabric for shrouding. Donations can be brought to The New Gallery from 3 February to 19 April.

About The New Gallery

The New Gallery (TNG) is an artist-run centre located in Mohkinstsis, also known as Calgary, on the ancestral and traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta. This charitable centre for contemporary art was established in 1975 as the Clouds & Water Gallery and Visual Production Society. Currently, TNG operates the Main Space — an exhibition venue in a storefront of the historic Canton Block in Calgary Chinatown — and the Resource Centre — a combined library/archive located across from the Main Space in Ng Tower. These venues support the research, creation, and exhibition of socially relevant and politically informed creative practices from artists at all junctures of their careers, while enabling a public engagement with artist-run culture and contemporary art. TNG’s programming comprises a broad range of art and educational activities, including exhibitions, publications, residencies, offsite projects, and community collaborations that serve to invigorate audiences’ experience of contemporary art and culture.

Anna Gustafson would like to recognize that her residency at MASS MoCA, where much of this work was created, was generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.

  • Anna Gustafson

    Anna Gustafson was conceived in Guatemala to an Italian/Guatemalan mother and Swedish father. She was born in Sweden and raised in Vancouver. Gustafson’s view throughout her lifetime has benefited from being nurtured in a multi-cultural family within an immigrant perspective. An important premise of her work is that we best remember information and events through our senses and associated emotions. With a strong sensory component, her work encourages each viewer to develop their own emotional responses and fully absorb the information presented. Her artistic practice combines a spare aesthetic with a sincere use of materials, and rigorous methodology to create narratives that resonate with the synergy between idea, material, and technique. She chooses to work with a limited palette and a restricted vocabulary of natural materials and found objects. She is an honours graduate of Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art + Design.) Gustafson has shown in public galleries since 1974.