Sunday, November 29, 2015

Roy Kiyooka

I am not sure if Michael Audain has any work by Roy Kiyooka in his collection, but I would hope so if he wants to tell the story (stories?) of art in this province.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Historical Narrative

The Audain Art Museum ("the only museum in Canada dedicated to the work of a single province") might look and feel like an ark, but once through its turnstiles the layout brings to mind the corridor of Berlin's Hamburger Bahnhof, with its galleries to the left (upon entering through the lobby), and then four huge ones at the end.

The narrative of those first galleries, as far as I understand them, break down into seven parts:

1) "Traditional" Northwest Coast First Nations art and artifact

2) Emily Carr

3) E.J. Hughes

4) "Pre- and Post-war" (Jack Shadbolt, Gordon Smith, Toni Onley, Takao Tanabe…)

5) "Photo-conceptualism" (Ian Wallace, Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Ken Lum, Stan Douglas)

6) "Contemporary First Nations" (Sonny Assu, Dana Claxton, Jim Hart, Brian Jungen, Marianne Nicolson…)

7) "Contemporary" (Tim Lee, Steven Shearer…)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Audain Art Museum

When I was younger, the highway to Whistler was scary. People drove it accordingly, which is to say carefully. Now, after years of improvements, it is no longer the road that is scary -- it is the drivers.

Yesterday we drove to Whistler's Rainbow Theatre to hear Michael Audain speak to local residents "about art." Which he did. Eccentrically. I am not sure how many times he mentioned how important it is for his and Yoshi Karasawa's art collection to have its own building ("A home for our artworks"), but each time he did he would remind us that the location is irrelevant ("It's not because we wanted a home in the mountains").

Not that this was found on the residents I was sitting with, most of whom beamed back their blithe Alberta oil smiles as Audain went on to describe the display logic of the collection once it is moved inside the Patkau's ark-like building. (Ark-like because it looks like an ark -- albeit a bent one, as if it just bumped into an iceberg -- but also because, as Audain kept reminding us, it sits on a flood plain).

A few posts ago, in a fit a pique, I described Michael Audain as our Noah Cross. Allow me to shorten that to Noah.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"Search and Destroy" (1973)

The forgotten sub-genre that is protestsploitation.

I'm a street walking cheetah
With a heart full of napalm
I'm a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb
I am a world's forgotten boy
The one who searches and destroys
Honey gotta help me please
Somebody gotta save my soul
Baby detonates for me
Look out honey, 'cause I'm using technology !
Ain't got time to make no apology
Soul radiation in the dead of night
Love in the middle of a fire fight
Honey gotta strike me blind
Somebody gotta save my soul
Baby penetrates my mind
And I'm the world's forgotten boy
The one who's searchin', searchin' to destroy
And honey I'm the world's forgotten boy
The one who's searchin', searchin' to destroy
Forgotten boy, forgotten boy
Forgotten boy said
Hey forgotten boy

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Searchers (1956)

When a "full-screen" film ends on television, everyone grows taller, skinnier, rolled over by those involved with the film's production. In John Ford's The Searchers, it is not the reformatting of the film (to accommodate its credits) that changes the shape of its racist hero, but the sliding door of its post-production frame.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Searching is a growth industry.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tropismes (1957)

Two weeks ago New Directions Press republished an English edition of Nathalie Sarraute's Tropismes (1957), as translated by Maria Jolas. The edition appears as part of NDP's Pearls series, whose covers favour geometric (abstract) forms; but with the Sarraute edition, these covers have taken a figurative, childlike turn. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

"As Verlaine said and the wind is blowing…"

Serge Gainsbourg's mention of Verlaine -- could it be in reference to the latter's "What Sayest Thou, Traveller"? The sixth stanza in particular?

Has that dull innocence been punished as it should?
What sayest though? Man is hard -- but woman? And thy tears,
Who has been drinking? And into what ear so good
Dost pour thy woes for it to pour into other ears?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

French Foreign Nuclear Policy

For years the joke was that a man facing ruin would abandon life as he knew it and join the French Foreign Legion.

What has changed between then and now is that it is no longer just men who consider life in a foreign army, but women too. And the army is no longer the French Foreign Legion – it is ISIS.

Not sure what the French Foreign Legion are up to these days.

Back in 1972 a schoolmate’s father was beaten by French soldiers for protesting French nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific.

His name was David McTaggart, and he was a member of Greenpeace.

The French denied McTaggart’s accusations, said he fell. Then pictures showed up to prove otherwise.

In 1985 two French soldiers were arrested in New Zealand. They admitted to blowing up a Greenpeace ship called Rainbow Warrior, killing a photographer on board.

The photographer's name was Fernando Pereira.

I will never learn to stop worrying, no matter how big your bomb.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sartre's Genet As Paris

"Even at the present time, now that he is a triumphant hero and is made much of by middle-class society, he hastens to please in order to disarm, and if he suspects that his charm has not worked, if he senses that there is a spot of freedom in the other person's eyes, he gets worried and irritated. He dislikes anyone's criticizing his works, not so much out of pride as out of confusion in the presence of an intelligence which he thought submissive and which suddenly reveals its independence. Whatever mistakes I may make about him, I am sure that I know him better than he knows me, because I have a passion for understanding men and he a passion for not knowing them. Ever since our first meeting, I have no recollection of our having spoken of anything other than him." -- Jean-Paul Sartre, "The Eternal Couple of the Criminal and the Saint…", from Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr. Translated by Bernard Frechtman. New York: Mentor, 1963, P. 214

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Vive le Québec libre!" (1967)

A seditious visit to Canada by the political successor to Napoléon Bonaparte -- the Caliph of the Fifth Republic of France, Charles de Gaulle.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pictures at an Explos(it)ion

Godard did not show this picture at his Sarajevo Writers Festival appearance in Notre Musique (2004). But if he did, would audience members mistake it for something else ("Stalingrad?" "Hiroshima?" Sarajevo?"), like they did when he showed them Matthew Brady's picture (below) of a bombed out Richmond, Virginia taken in the last year of the American Civl War (1860-1865)?

Since its introduction as a news item, I have been reluctant to take seriously the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), thinking it more a construct of those who stand to gain by it as an agent of fear than a group of mercenaries (ex- and otherwise) fighting for a self-determined political structure designed to oversee the production of oil.

Which returns me to the first picture: Jerusalem's King David Hotel after the Irgun blew up its southern wing in 1946. This act (of terrorism?) is generally seen as the last straw in Britain's attempt to manage Palestine and is counted as one of a number of events that allowed for the modern state of Israel.

So what's the difference between what the founders of the modern state of Israel did and what ISIS is doing? Why was the former group rewarded with state recognition and the latter group vilified?

Perhaps an answer begins with an understanding of this rather damning "agreement"-- a WikiLeak before there ever was such a thing. (It should be noted that what happened in Paris on Friday comes exactly 100 years to the day the French and British governments sat down to discuss what became known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement.)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Say Cheese!

Last week marked the public opening of The Broad. Billed by Forbes as "Edythe and Eli Broad's new museum," my first thought was, What happened to the old one? Did it wear out?

Most remarkable about The Broad is its admission, which is free (you must reserve in advance). But as it is with most DTLA destinations, the parking is not.

It costs $12 (with museum validation) to park on one of the museum's three underground floors. On weekdays before 5 p.m. additional charges are applied after three hours.

Los Angeles is an easy, if parenthetic, city (if you read the fine print).

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Philanthropy of Allen

Sky Goodden's Momus continues its online presence as if it has no other, poking portals into a webness that leads to better-funded news agencies, or, like Seattle and Interstate 5, allowing articles to run through it, as it does with Ben Davis's monthly almanac of "10 Must-Read Art Essays", which this month carries a feature on the venture philanthropy of Paul Allen by The Stranger's Jen Graves, a feature that brought to mind our own venture philanthropist Michael Audain who, now that he has what he wants, has left it to his foundation to distribute his crumbs.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What Counts in a Numbers Game?

What does it mean when a government subsidized magazine declares itself to be "in the numbers game"? What does it mean when its editor starts taking search engine robots at their word?

"The aftermath of this in art criticism is plain"?

Benjamin Disraeli said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics?" Jaron Lanier and his kind would have us believe there is a fourth -- the internet -- and that we are in trouble if we start to believe its "analytics," its robots' "unsettling precision."

All this, and more, because an editor is trying to justify a call for (capital?) "investment" to protect the interests ("entitlement") of the few who write and read art reviews? Not since the days of Brian Mulroney have I heard such a sad case of reasoning.

That's the signpost up ahead. Your next stop: the slippery slope.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Navajo English"

Samual Bréan on the reception of Godard's "Navajo English" subtitles.

Monday, November 9, 2015


The first ten episodes of The Lone Ranger had the Ranger riding alone. "Script 11 introduced Tonto," says writer Fran Striker. "Tonto was developed solely for the purpose of giving the Lone Ranger someone to talk to."

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Injun Joe

Don't have time to read the book -- but your essay is due on Monday? Click here for

Character Analysis Injun Joe
Next to Tom Sawyer, Injun Joe is the most important character in the novel. During a boy's maturation, he must sometimes encounter evil in its most drastic form, and it is through Tom's reactions to Injun Joe that we most clearly see Tom's growth from a boy into a young man.
Injun Joe is a thieving, dishonest, wicked person who achieves most of his evil goals because he is also clever and resourceful. He kills young doctor Robinson without qualms and for no discernible reason except for pure evil pleasure. He frames old Muff Potter, and he is shrewd enough to make the townspeople believe his story is true. When proof of his part in the murder is about to be revealed, he reacts quickly and decisively at the trial: He takes immediate action and jumps out the window and escapes and cannot be found by the search parties. In addition, his reputation is such than none of the citizens will confront him with his evil. Although all the citizens of St. Petersburg know that he is evil, each is too frightened to confront him because they, like Tom and Huck, know that he will retaliate in a violent manner.

Injun Joe is a static character, that is, he is the same at the end as he is in the beginning. He does not change through the course of the events in which he is involved. He is the essence of evil when we first see him murdering Dr. Robinson and framing Muff Potter for the crime, and he remains the essence of evil throughout. Consider, for example, his plan to mutilate the Widow Douglas in retaliation for something her late husband did years earlier.

Injun Joe is central to the novel's primary adventure and appears in some of the most important scenes in the novel: He is first seen murdering Dr. Robinson and framing the innocent Muff. He flees justice at Muff Potter's trial. He is the central figure in the search for buried treasure; he shows up, disguised as a deaf and mute Spaniard, in a haunted house where Tom and Huck are hiding upstairs. Later, he displays his extreme cruelty as seen in his plans to revenge himself on the Widow Douglas. When he threatens to kill his partner if the latter refuses to help him mutilate Widow Douglas, he simply reinforces his evilness. Tom encounters Injun Joe in the cave, where he is finally trapped with his ill-gained gold and dies a befitting but horrible death.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Marie Wilson

Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Marie Wilson has spent a lot of time listening. In this 2013 picture (above), Wilson is in Hay River, NWT, listening to former residential school students.

On November 1, 2015, Wilson attended a re-dedication ceremony for Canadian poet and federal government bureaucrat  Duncan Campbell Scott, whose new plaque includes his role in the creation of Canada's residential schools.

On the topic of the re-dedication ceremony, Wilson had this to say:

“…the stories of our lives are not all written while we are on earth, that the stories of our lives indeed can be continuing and in some ways can become more important and more powerful after our departing.”

Friday, November 6, 2015

Goodbye to Language (2014)

Not sure what book these two are looking at. Fairly certain it is not a collector's item from the Audain Art Museum's publication program.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Audain Art Museum

In April, 2015 a press release announced that the new Audain Art Museum at Whistler would open with an exhibition by Vancouver artist Jeff Wall in November of that year.

Here is what Wall had to say:

“I accepted the invitation to exhibit in Whistler out of respect for Michael Audain’s long standing commitment to the visual arts, and also because I am interested in seeing my work in the context his collection creates—a historical view of art in B.C.”

It is now November of that year, and though we have known for some time that the Audain Art Museum would not open until January, we are told that a number of Wall works “turned out to be unavailable.”

What’s a museum to do?

Thinking quickly, chief curator Darrin Martens decided that the second best way to open a British Columbia museum that boasts one of the largest and finest collections of British Columbia art is with the work of Mexican muralists Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siquieros and José Clemente Orozco, a group affectionately known as Los Trés Grandes, or The Three Prostates.

Clearly there is a bigger story here. But I am not the one to tell it. Let it trickle from the brows of these men. Let it crack at the corners of their dry and distant mouths.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


For the past six years Emily Carr University of Art and Design has urged us to attend its Thursday night On Edge Reading Series. Just what there is to be "on edge" about is a mystery to me, as I have never felt more bound to a centre than I am when reading the work of most of this series' participants.

Perhaps the series title pertains not to the style and content of its participants' literary work, but to anxieties about reading and writing (at least of the ink and paper variety), something ECUAD's technocrat president, Ron Burnett, believes interferes with the institution's role as a property development anchor and a trainer of digital minions.

The image atop is from Jean-Luc Godard's Goodbye to Language (2014), a scene near the beginning where untitled characters stop at a book table. A central character in this film is a dog. Not this dog, or this dog, but this dog.

Here are some books for sale at the ECUAD library:

Here is a poster for ECUAD's On Edge Reading Series:

Here is a most recent poster for ECUAD's On Edge Reading Series and what looks to be its replacement, the more Floridian Creative Action Labs:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Symbols Hurtling Through Space

The headline caught my eye: "Ambulance collides with limo, crashes into Vancouver store." The collision of these two vehicles (one designed for need, the other for want) tells the story of an increasingly divided city and the inevitable conflicts that ensue. That it was the limo that "collided" with the ambulance, not the other way around (as misrepresented by CBC headline writers), is more damaging to our understanding of the city than what happened on the road that night.