The artist duo of Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler has been invited to show their work in the exhibition Women of Venice to represent Switzerland in the Swiss Pavilion at the forthcoming 2017 Venice Biennial.
Over the past years, they have used a documentary approach to delve into the archaeology of film. At the Biennale di Venezia, they will present their film installation Flora, based on discoveries made in the course of their research on the largely unknown American artist Flora Mayo who studied in Paris in the 1920s, at the same time as renowned architect Bruno Giacometti. By weaving together fictional and documentary material, Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler both reconstruct and re-imagine Flora Mayo’s life and work, also giving voice to her previously unknown son. Giacometti’s and Mayo’s relationship and their ensuing portrait busts reflect the creative energy generated by their collaborative artistic activity.
Like Giacometti and Mayo, Hubbard and Birchler have worked on their collaborative artistic practice throughout their careers. In fact, when they graduated with MFA degrees from NSCAD in 1992, they were the first fine artists in North America to have earned MFA degrees based entirely on a collaborative practice and collaborative thesis.
“Back in 1989, as a collaborative team, we were vetting MFA programs around the world to apply for. Based on our research, at that time, there were only two programs we believed were forward-thinking enough to give serious consideration to a collaborative team applying to an MFA program,” writes Teresa, the William and Bettye Nowlin Professor at the University of Texas in Austin, TX. “We targeted NSCAD in Halifax and the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Netherlands. We applied to both programs and were accepted into both, however we chose NSCAD, as the faculty, programs, facilities and history were a better fit for our practice.”
Continues Teresa: “Nowadays there are institutions who have formally adopted collaborative practice methods into their MFA programs. But 27 years ago, NSCAD was a forerunner and willing to commit to the experiment.”
NSCAD alumna Lani Maestro and Manuel Ocampo are also Venice-bound; the artists will represent The Philippines at the 2017 Venice Biennale.
Titled The Spectre of Comparison, the exhibition at the Philippines Pavilion will explore Filipino political leader and 19th-century author José Rizal’s notion of cross-cultural comparisons. It will be curated by Joselina Cruz, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in Manila.
According to her artist bio, Lani Maestro has been concerned for many years with questions of how we occupy space, how space occupies us, as well as how our space is occupied with and by others. “Working between sculpture, music and installation, her work is described to hold poetic elements that address the complexities of human nature and our physical world.”
Born and educated in Manila, Lani Maestro came to Canada in 1982, studying at the Banff Centre for the Arts and NSCAD, where she earned her MFA degree in 1988.
In 2012, Lani Maestro was given the one of Canada’s top visual arts prizes, the Hnatyshyn Award. The $25,000 prize recognizes outstanding achievements by a Canadian artist.
The Venice Biennale will run from mid-May to November 26, 2017.
NSCAD Professor Bruce Barber will also have work in Venice next year. He has been invited by curators Valeria Romagnini and Rene Rietmeyer of GAAF (Global Art Affairs Foundation) and the European Cultural Commission to exhibit in Personal Structures, a collateral exhibition with the 2017 Venice Biennale.
Prof. Barber previously exhibited the work Spectres of Marx at the Palazzo Mora in another collateral exhibition Crossing Borders organized by GAAF in 2015. The exhibition in two major venues Palazzo Mora and Palazzo Bembo from May until November was toured by over 300,000 visitors.
For Personal Structures, he will produce a new iteration of Party without Party buttons or Parte senza partito for the Italian context. The work will consist of a wall painted installation of the Surrealist map of the world. A video of a Button Action that took place in Auckland, N.Z. will be available for screening during the exhibition. Buttons will be freely available and some will be distributed during the exhibition opening.
A website which contains information and photographs from four different button actions that have taken place in Halifax, Warsaw, Auckland, and Sydney will be updated with translations and available for interactive use by members of the public. For this new context, the blog will be continued daily throughout the exhibition with links to websites containing information on Italy’s multi-political parties and contested coalitions.