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Canadians make a splash in Italy

May 16th, 2017

Geoffrey Farmer. A way out of the mirror, 2017. Installation view at the Canadian Pavilion for the 57th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, 2017. (FRANCESCO BARASCIUTTI / © GEOFFREY FARMER, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.)

Vancouver artist Geoffrey Farmer was tapped in late 2015 by the National Gallery of Canada to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale 2017 – one of the most high-profile annual events in the art world. Farmer asked the AGO’s Carol and Morton Rapp Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Kitty Scott, to curate his installation. (The two last worked together on Farmer’s 2014 AGO exhibition, Every day needs an urgent whistle blown into it.) The final result is making some waves in Venice. His installation, A way out of the mirror, has been earning high praise from both local and international press.

Here are some of the highlights:

“Geoffrey Farmer’s exhibition at the Venice Biennale, “A way out of the mirror,” runs in, through, above, and around the Canadian pavilion. It is moving, strange, and a little frightening, and it is one of the best shows being presented in the Giardini this year”

“At first when he looked at the Canadian pavilion, where his Venice project would be installed, says Farmer, ‘A palm tree came to mind. Then I realized that it wasn’t a palm tree, it was a 30-foot geyser.’ This was the genesis for the most complex, inventive, and exciting Canadian project to be unveiled at the Biennale in years: a courtyard of sculptures that are biographically based and aquatically infused.” – Maclean’s

“Geoffrey Farmer’s moving, personal installation at the Canada Pavilion confronts personal and national histories through the metaphor of water… At the Canada Pavilion, everything is exposed: architecture, history and emotion. Artist Geoffrey Farmer and curator Kitty Scott have created a spectacular, layered and complex work.” – Canadian Art

“Geoffrey Farmer has destroyed the Canadian pavilion. A geyser erupts noisily through the demolished roof. The floor is a lumberyard of weeping timbers. I was drenched and so was the grandfather clock and the sculpture of Rodin’s thinker, redone as a praying mantis in the style of French existentialist sculptor Germaine Richier. This is just the beginning of a work that involves Allen Ginsberg, Farmer’s grandfather, New York’s Washington Square, the Napoleonic wars, a Swiss water trough, and much besides. I’m soaked. I’m drowning. It’s great.” – The Guardian 

“Geoffrey Farmer’s exhibition at the Venice Biennale, “A way out of the mirror,” runs in, through, above, and around the Canadian pavilion. It is moving, strange, and a little frightening, and it is one of the best shows being presented in the Giardini this year.” – ArtNews

In addition to working on some exciting future exhibitions for the AGO, Kitty Scott is currently overseeing plans for the reinstallation of the AGO’s modern and contemporary collection as part of Look:Forward. Stay tuned here for news about closures and openings, or visit our website.

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