York visual arts professors make history


Above: Top and bottom – Details from Janet Jones’ installation of six paintings and six floor pieces, entitled On Shifting Ground (oil stick and paraffin wax on paper)

Two York visual arts professors, Yvonne Singer and Janet Jones, are making history. Their works are part of the first major survey exhibition of contemporary Canadian art to take place in Germany in more than 20 years and the very first one to be held in the former East Germany.

Singer and Jones are among nine Canadian artists featured in The Ironic Turn, a touring exhibition that opened July 6 at Kunsthalle Erfurt, the municipal art gallery in Erfurt, Germany, and runs to Aug. 24.

Right: Yvonne Singer’s installation detail – Projections for the Unseeing, 1997

Advance publicity about The Ironic Turn describes it as a “diverse range of media” whose common characteristic is “their art historical and art theoretical self-referentiality. By referring to European traditions of art history and visual culture, these artists offer surprising ‘outside’ perspectives on European culture.

“This approach, and the lively imagistic and inter-textual interplay apparent in the work, becomes embedded with multiple ironies of both North American and European artistic strategies and culture.”

To provide a forum for discussion and enhance the impact of the exhibition within the European and east-German art scene, the exhibition was accompanied by an international conference, Multiple Ironies in Canadian Contemporary Art, July 7-8. The event was jointly organized by the University of Erfurt and Bauhaus-University Weimar in cooperation with Kunsthalle Erfurt.

Left: Detail from Jones’ installation, On Shifting Ground

Professor Janet Jones’ teaching and research interests combine creative work and academic study, focusing on studio art and cultural theory, and how these two areas interrelate. The influence of critics on artists has been a topic of particular interest in her writings. She has exhibited her paintings in numerous solo and group shows across Canada, in England and in New York. Her most recent painting/installations focus on the theme of the body and technology.

Professor Yvonne Singer is a practising artist with an active national and international exhibition record. Her installation works employ multimedia techniques, often with cryptic texts to articulate cultural issues of disjuncture and perception. She is particularly interested in the intersection of public and private histories. She has received several public art commissions and her work is found in many private collections. Singer is a member of The Red Head Gallery and the Art Advisory Committee of The Koffler Gallery, and currently serves on the board of the Toronto Arts Council.

The Ironic Turn is organized and circulated by the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) as part of an ongoing international outreach program, in partnership with Kunsthalle Erfurt, and will travel to Faux Mouvement art gallery in Metz, France, from September to December, before returning to MOCCA in winter 2004, and continuing on to the Owens Art Gallery in Sackville, New Brunswick, in the spring.

An illustrated, multilingual publication about the exhibition will be available in fall 2003. The exhibition, tour and publication is supported in part by the Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade, the Canadian Embassy in Berlin, Thueringer Ministerium fuer Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst, Stiftung Kulturfonds Berlin, Sparkasse Mittelthueringen.

For information on the exhibition or conference, call 416-395-0067.