Public Lecture with Bruce W. Ferguson

Bruce W. Ferguson will present a public lecture, Not in the Age of Pharaohs, at the Mendel October 30 at 7 p.m. The event is the latest in the Museums 3.0 program series.

In his illustrated talk, Ferguson presents a case for how art can be symptomatic of larger cultural and political issues. He does this by examining the period prior to the Egyptian revolution or Arab Spring, through the works of four artists in Cairo. His lecture will show how art can be read as a series of indices of the conditions that produced change in that tumultuous period. His expertise in this topic relates to his recent tenure as Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the American University in Cairo, Egypt.

Ferguson is now Vice Chairman of LB Media, a print and online publishing company in New York. He has served as Dean of the School of Arts at Columbia University, and as President and Executive Director of the New York Academy of Art. He has curated exhibitions for the Mendel Art Gallery, the Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, among many others. He also organized exhibitions within the international biennales of Sao Paulo, Sydney, Venice, and Istanbul. As founding director and curator of Site Santa Fe in New Mexico, he articulated a vision for an international art biennial that now has a successful 20-year history and is central to the city’s identity.

Ferguson received his B.A. in Art History from the University of Saskatchewan, and his M.A. in Communications from McGill University in Montreal. He has an honorary doctorate from the Kansas City Art Institute.


Stronger than Stone conference Nov. 21-24

A Public Symposium in Calgary and Saskatoon

November 21-22, Alberta College of Art +Design, Calgary
November 23-24, Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatoon
Sunday November 23 session is now sold out, but people can tune-in to the live-stream on Sunday here:

Produced by Alberta College of Art + Design, the University of Saskatchewan and Kenderdine Art Gallery, the Mendel Art Gallery (in conjunction with Museums 3.0), and Wanuskewin Heritage Park.

Stronger than Stone: Re-inventing the Indigenous Monument is a symposium on Indigenous monuments and counter-monuments. It brings together, for the first time, world-renowned artists and thinkers including: Maria Thereza Alves, Rebecca Belmore, Jimmie Durham, Ronald Hawker, Linda Hogan, Geir Tore Holm, Candice Hopkins, James (Sakej) Young Blood Henderson, Ashok Mathur, Neal McLeod, Paul Chaat Smith, Adrian Stimson, Michael Taussig, and Luke Willis Thompson.

Indigenous cultures have maintained ties to the same lands since time immemorial. Human-made physical markers were not necessary to preserve the history of a place and people. Rather, natural places are regarded as calling forth stories, so that the landscape provides a practical and moral guide to the culture.

What can the contemporary art world, urban planners, geographers and others learn from traditional Indigenous ways of memorializing and place-making? How could a re-invented approach to the memorial help us to better understand history, relationships to the land and human potential?

For further information, contact:
Wayne Baerwaldt, 403-284-7632 (Calgary)
Haema Sivanesan, 306-975-8051 (Saskatoon)
Registration: $60 per day and $20 for students / low-income (includes lunch)
See for details.

Watch the conference live through online streaming

November 21-22
Alberta College of Art +Design, Calgary

November 23-24
Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatoon

Sympathetic Magic, installation view

Artist talks with Raymond Boisjoly and Marianne Nicolson

Saturday, September 13 at 1 p.m.

The program connects two concurrent exhibitions, Sympathetic Magic, curated by Troy Gronsdahl, and Convoluted Beauty: In the Company of Emily Carr, curated by Lisa Baldissera. The curators will introduce the exhibitions followed by presentations from exhibiting artists Marianne Nicolson and Raymond Boisjoly.

Raymond Boisjoly (born in Langley, British Columbia, 1981) is an artist of Haida and Québécois descent, living and working in Vancouver. He completed his undergraduate studies at Emily Carr University of Art and Design and holds an MFA from University of British Columbia. Boisjoly’s practice engages with issues of aboriginality, language as cultural practice, and the experiential aspects of materiality. He has presented work in solo and group exhibitions in Canada and the United States including exhibitions at Simon Fraser University, Catriona Jeffries Gallery, and The Contemporary Art Gallery, all in Vancouver; The Power Plant, Toronto; Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa; Platform centre for photographic and digital arts, Winnipeg; and Western Bridge, Seattle. Boisjoly is participating in SITE Santa Fe, and La Biennale de Montréal. This fall, Boisjoly will serve as Lead Faculty for “In Kind” Negotiations, a thematic residency at the Banff Centre.

Marianne Nicolson (‘Tayagila’ogwa) (born in Comox, British Columbia, 1969) is an artist of Scottish and Dzwada’enuxw First Nations descent. The Dzwada’enuxw people are a member tribe of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Nicolson’s artistic training encompasses traditional Kwakwaka’wakw forms and culture as well as Western European-based art practices. Her work engages with issues of Aboriginal histories, politics, and language, arising from a passionate involvement in cultural revitalization and sustainability. Nicolson completed a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, in 1996, followed by studies at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, where she received an MFA (1999), a Master’s in Linguistics and Anthropology (2005), and a PhD in Linguistics, Anthropology, and History (2013). Nicolson has exhibited paintings, photographs, and installation works locally, nationally, and internationally. Recent exhibitions include the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010) and the nationally touring group exhibition Beat Nation, organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery (2012). Her solo shows and installations include The Return of Abundance (Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, 2007) and The House of Ghosts (Vancouver Art Gallery, 2008).

Barry Schwabsky, Keynote Lecture

Barry Schwabsky, Keynote Lecture

Barry Schwabsky is a writer and editor based in New York. He is the art critic for The Nation and his essays have appeared in Flash Art, Artforum, London Review of Books, and Art in America. His books include The Widening Circle: Consequences of Modernism in Contemporary Art, Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting, and several volumes of poetry, the most recent being Book Left Open in the Rain.

Schwabsky was a keynote lecturer and panelist for Call of the Wild, a series of artists’ talks and a round-table discussion that took place on September 28, 2013 in conjunction with the exhibition Rewilding Modernity. This lively conversation with local, national, and international art professionals reflected on the complexities and contradictions around the histories of modernism, to explore its current manifestations and future possibilities. Call of the Wild was presented in partnership with the University of Saskatchewan’s Department of Art and Art History, MFA in Writing, and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity.


Download the audio recording of Schwabsky’s keynote lecture here.

Memory Islands

by Richard Fun (8:45 minutes, 2002)
Wednesday, October 12, Mendel Art Gallery Auditorium, 7 p.m.
Songs of Experience Film Series 2011

In Islands, Richard Fung offers a winning deconstruction of John Huston’s Heaven Knows Mr. Allison, filmed in Tobago in 1956. The artist’s Uncle Clive is an extra, playing a Japanese soldier, though he doesn’t look Japanese, nor has he ever seen anyone from Japan. No matter. In a clever series of intertitles and reframings, Fung turns the background of Huston’s film into the foreground, offers details of his uncle’s life, and recounts the swap of 12,000 acres of Trinidad for 50 US warships. Here the movies appear as an extension of war, as the usual romantic veils are brought down over the bloodied imperial reach. As background turns into foreground, nocturnal animals appear in daylight, and the unheard stories of history’s supporting cast can at last assert themselves.

A Moth in Spring
by Yu Gu (26 minutes, 2009)
Wednesday, October 12, Mendel Art Gallery Auditorium, 7 p.m.
Songs of Experience Film Series 2011

A Moth in Spring (teaser) from Yu Gu on Vimeo.


A Moth in Spring might have been named: embrace your failure. Yu Gu returns to her hometown of Chongqing, China, where she grew up, to shoot a dramatic movie. Word leaks, the neighbours talk, and soon the authorities arrive to shut down the whole dream. In a stunning parallel narrative, the filmmaker is forced to return to her parents’ dissident roots. She weaves a powerful generational duet that talks about art and the student movement in 1989. Instead of a dramatic turn, this lyrical hybrid, leaking accidents and unforeseen moments, opens its crushed heart to every unguarded face in the room, the looks of stunned disappointment, tearful departures, family admonitions. The continuity of political repression and the failure of the planned document, which appears in script writing intertitles, provides the means for an embrace of what is actually happening, a generosity rare in the cinema. 

The filmmaker recounts:

In the four months of living in Chongqing, there were times I felt like an alien from outer space. Leaving the cradle of Hollywood, a sense of reality set in. Unlike Beijing or Shanghai, Chongqing has no pre-existing infrastructure for filmmaking. There was no casting service, no film labs and no real equipment houses. My cinematographer, Adam, and I had to think of other alternatives fast. Then I realized that I wanted to make something closer to a documentary. Not in the sense of using a cinema verité camera style or purposeful jump cuts. Instead, I wanted to document the free spirit that still glimmered in this art school despite the perpetual tearing down of the old city, despite the onset of unbridled materialism, despite the government’s insidious indoctrination. I wanted to make a story that paid respect to my family history, one of survival of dreams despite repression. I imagined, too, that this story was not uncommon among people around the world. I discarded casting options from entertainment agencies and instead asked friends and acquaintances to act in my film.

La Jetée
by Chris Marker (28 minutes, 1962)
Wednesday, October 12, Mendel Art Gallery Auditorium, 7 p.m.
Songs of Experience Film Series 2011

La Jetée is a science fiction tour-de-force by Chris Marker, cinema’s most mysterious filmmaker. If he had made only this movie, he would still be considered one of cinema’s most prized talents. There is a sharply drawn story narrated almost exclusively in photographs; only one shot appears in motion. Conjuring entire worlds with a few well-placed shadows and an incisive montage, Marker takes the viewer on a deeply engaging trek into a future dystopia, riding inside the mind of a time traveller, whose intergenerational love story leads him fatefully towards a dizzying climax in the Orly airport.
- Mike Hoolbloom

The Dubai in Me

The Dubai In Me

by Christian Von Borries (83 minutes, 2010) 
Wednesday, September 14, Broadway Theatre, 7 p.m.
Songs of Experience Film Series 2011

A rigorous and relentless self-examination underscores this cine-essay on the marketplace projection of Dubai. Offering Second Life avatars and Michael Jackson moonwalks as political choreography precursors, the filmmaker shows a hyper-capitalized feudalism. In his hands, Dubai is both a state and a state of mind. It appears behind the camera in terms of gear choices and tripod height, and in front of it as a migratory global underclass of workers who are forever busy offstage. Between the weightless simulations of a city scrubbed clean of its inhabitants — where there is nothing left but the commodification of space — are panoramic postcard views of trucks filled with shit, or hijabbed tourists clutching their shopping dreams. Every picture is framed, and every frame is announced, remarked upon, unpacked. All the money that dreams can buy might be found here, in the 12-hour days of the servers, their passports confiscated, their plane fares recharged at rates that would bring smiles to any loan shark. Like every utopia, the poor will be made to pay for this promised land of new Islamic capitalisms. As the filmmaker remarks, occasionally, between the sustained views of a world that is already a picture, “Global identities laundered here … for those who can afford it.”
- Mike Hoolbloom

Exhibition Tour

Free exhibition tour every Sunday at 1 p.m.
Meet in the lobby. No registration required.

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Location & Hours

950 Spadina Crescent East
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Regular Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Free admission