Fable for Tomorrow: A Survey of Works by Wendy Coburn
Opening date to be confirmed.
Curated by Andrea Fatona and Caroline Seck Langill with video programming by b.h. Yael and Rebecca Garrett
Core exhibition of the CONTACT Photography Festival
Presented in partnership with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.”
Originally planned for the annual Festival in May 2020, this exhibition has been rescheduled due to COVID-19.
The Estate of Wendy Coburn is represented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto.
Wendy Coburn had significant impact on the Canadian art community as an artist, educator and activist who has exhibited internationally. Fable for Tomorrow presents the first survey of Wendy Coburn’s artwork. The exhibition provides an opportunity to bring together four decades of sculpture, installation, photography and video that reveals her ability to sense the pulse of a deep present while asking us to pay attention to other futures. Coburn’s work explores representations of gender, sexualities, everyday objects, material culture, and human/animal relations.
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Wendy Coburn (October 5, 1963 – June 15, 2015) was a Toronto-based artist and art educator whose studio practice included photography, sculpture, installation and video. Her multi-disciplinary work engages a range of concerns such as human relations to land and ecologies, power relations and the construction of differences, popular culture, mental health, gender, whiteness, nationhood and the role of images in mediating cultural difference.
Her work has been exhibited and screened in galleries and festivals including Anatomy of a Protest (Justina M. Barnicke Gallery), Photophobia (Art Gallery of Hamilton), the Living Effect (Ottawa Art Gallery), MIX (New York Gay & Lesbian Experimental Film/Video Festival), Transmediale International Media Art Festival (Berlin, Germany), Beaver Tales and Uneasy Pieces (Oakville Galleries), Kassel Documentary Film & Video Festival (Kassel, Germany), and the Dublin Lesbian & Gay Film and Video Festival (Dublin, Ireland).
Coburn received her MFA from Concordia University and AOCA from Ontario College of Art. She worked for 18 years at OCAD University including as Assistant Dean and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Art, and as a faculty member with the Sculpture Installation and the Art & Social Change programs. As the founder of OCAD U’s Art and Social Change minor, Wendy developed the groundbreaking course: “Making Gender: LBGTQ Studio” which seeks to foster a greater awareness and understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer cultures and subcultures.
Andrea Fatona is an independent curator and an associate professor at OCAD University. She is concerned with issues of equity within the sphere of the arts and the pedagogical possibilities of art works produced by “other” Canadians in articulating broader perspectives of Canadian identities. Her broader interest is in the ways in which art, “culture” and “education” can be employed to illuminate complex issues that pertain to social justice, citizenship, belonging and nationhood. She is the recipient of awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Fatona has published scholarly articles, catalogue essays and book chapters in a range of publications.Some examples of her curatorial projects include: Queer Collaborations (1993), Across Borders (1995/6), Cadboro Bay: Index to an Incomplete History (1999), The Attack of the Sandwich Men (2001), Reading the Image: Poetics of the Black Diaspora (2006-2008), Fibred Optics (2009-10), Will Work for Food (2011), Land Marks (2013-14) and Settling in Place (2018).
Caroline Seck Langill is a writer and curator whose academic scholarship and curatorial work looks at the intersections between art and science, as well as the related fields of new media art history, criticism and preservation. Her interests in non-canonical art histories, gender studies and Indigenous epistemologies have led her to writing and exhibition-making that could be considered post-disciplinary. With Lizzie Muller, she has been looking at questions of liveliness in art and artifacts. This ongoing research resulted in the exhibition Lively Objects for ISEA: Disruption (2015) in which undisciplined objects were woven through traditional displays and historical tableau at the Museum of Vancouver. Caroline Langill resides in Peterborough and works at OCAD University where she is Vice-President Academic and Provost.
b.h. Yael is a filmmaker and installation artist. She is Professor of Integrated Media at OCAD University and past Chair of Senate. Yael’s work has exhibited nationally and internationally and has shown in various settings, from festivals to galleries to community and activist groups, as well as various educational venues. Her work has been purchased by many universities and she is a recipient of numerous arts grants including the Chalmers Fellowship award.
Yael's films and installations have dealt with the many intersections of identity and family (Fresh Blood) and have focused on activist initiatives in Palestine/Israel (Palestine Trilogy and other works), as well as apocalypse, geopolitical and environmental urgencies (Trading the Future). Yael has also worked collaboratively with Johanna Householder (Approximations) and in collectives such as Spontaneous Combustion, Hardpressed Collective and BlahBlahBlah’s Re(viewing) Quebec. Yael has programmed arts lectures and media screenings including Art Creates Change, and she occasionally writes, currently completing a family memoir.
Rebecca Garrett is a Toronto-based artist whose use of media is situation-specific. Since graduating from the Ontario College of Art in 1981, Garrett has been exhibiting film and video installations; photo-based wall pieces; mixed media and performative interventions; site-specific installations; and single channel videos, in numerous venues in Canada and abroad.
Garrett’s works explore experimental formal concerns and are committed to the evolution of an alternative and innovative image language. These concerns are located and challenged by the indexical nature of the sign and the documentary traditions and responsibilities of varied social and political contexts. Many of her works can be seen as investigations of the effects of structures of containment or control—such as architecture, colonialism or global media—on perception, psychic and cultural survival, and knowledge production.
Garrett has worked collaboratively and/or collectively with many groups and individuals in Canada, the USA, Zimbabwe, Kenya and the UK. Her work expresses a long commitment to naming economic, colonial and social injustices, and building relations of exchange and reciprocity.
With additional support from:
Barbara Fischer and Jess Dobkin
Onsite Gallery is the flagship professional gallery of OCAD U and an experimental curatorial platform for art, design and new media. Visit our website for upcoming public events. The gallery is located at 199 Richmond St. W, Toronto, ON, M5V 0H4. Telephone: 416-977-6000, ext. 265. Opening hours are: Wednesdays to Fridays from noon to 7 p.m.; Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. Free admission.
Onsite Gallery acknowledges that the new gallery construction project is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Canada Cultural Spaces Fund at Canadian Heritage, the City of Toronto through a Section 37 agreement and Aspen Ridge Homes; with gallery furniture by Nienkämper. Onsite Gallery logo by Dean Martin Design.
Image (inset): Wendy Coburn, Fable for Tomorrow, 2008, bisque-fired clay, 7” x 7” x 5.5” each.