As one of Canada’s most important artists, Liz Magor has been producing a broad spectrum of sculptural objects, installations, and photography since the mid-1970s. She is best known for sculptures made from both found and cast objects that quietly, yet intensely pull our focus to the things that surround us everyday. Often presenting delicate items in harsh places, Magor creates structures that support fragile and vulnerable things; a practice, one could say, of care. Her work reveals how ordinary objects contain latent qualities that are obscured by our intentions as we acquire, use, and discard these items. In her sculptural arrangements Magor allows things to form relationships with each other that reveal their emotional and historic burdens and strengths.
The singular work One Bedroom Apartment was first presented in 1996 at Susan Hobbs Gallery in Toronto. Several iterations have since been presented at galleries including The David Ireland House in San Francisco, the Kunstverein in Hamburg, Triangle France in Marseilles, and the Doris McCarthy Gallery in Scarborough. In each version, the entire contents of a one-bedroom apartment are pulled together through a combination of renting and borrowing, the only constant being a sculpture of a dog that maintains its anxious position under a table.
One Bedroom Apartment presents a static moment; a suspension of daily life. It is quite simply the boxed and wrapped contents of a one-bedroom apartment, waiting to be moved, unpacked, or put into storage. These material belongings have served us, but at times they feel like dead weight, a drag on our mobility. Setting aside the narrative of the owners, One Bedroom Apartment offers an opportunity for the things themselves to express anxiety, aspiration, faith, and resilience. They are not plans or ideas, but things, persistently and stubbornly real. While the temptation may be to organize and assess this pile of belongings, there is no clear narrative given, and so no way to sort through it logically. Each iteration of the work has addressed different ideas of lifestyle, taste, material and social history. Presenting the work in Calgary in 2020 reflects a moment in which the act of packing up and moving evokes a present and foreseeable future of insecurity and transience.
Liz Magor lives and works in Vancouver. In 2017, her work was the subject of a traveling survey exhibition at at the Kunstverein in Hamburg; Migros Museum, Zurich; and MAMAC, Nice. Other recent solo exhibitions of her work include: Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry—le Crédac, Paris (2016); Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal (2016); the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2015); Peep-hole, Milan (2015); Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver (2014); and Triangle France, Marseille (2015). In addition, she has had solo exhibitions at Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2008); the Power Plant, Toronto (2003); and the Vancouver Art Gallery (2002). Magor is the recipient of the Gershon Iskowitz Prize (2014), the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2009), and the Governor General’s Award (2001). She represented Canada at the 41st Venice Biennale, and participated in the 4th Biennale of Sydney and dOCUMENTA (8). Magor is represented by Susan Hobbs Gallery, Toronto; Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver; and Marcelle Alix, Paris.