Exhibit features works by controversial installation artist

An exhibit of works by installation artist Istvan Kantor opens Feb. 9 at the Art Gallery of York University with a reception at 6pm featuring Kantor and writer, filmmaker and theatre director Jacob Wren.

In Istvan Kantor: Machinery Execution, which is on exhibit to April 3, the artist presents interactive machines and videos that have been overlooked by media during recent controversy over the artist’s work. A new work, Spielraum/Playroom – Remains of a Revolution, will transform the AGYU into an interactive installation involving live video feeds, projections and robotics. Also shown will be the feature-length video Lebensraum/Lifespace – Spectacle of Noise (2004), a semi-autobiographical, science-fiction allegory on the battle for living space in Capital City (Toronto) and the resistance to the city’s gentrification.

Right: Video still from Istvan Kantor’s 
Lebensraum/Lifespace Spectacle of Noise

As Kantor said in 2004: “In the land of accumulation all activity remains activated, causing continuous interventions, overlapping structures, sudden changes, global explosions, turmoil, tumult, turbulence, everything happens at once and simultaneously. It’s accumulation that makes the earth shake at six o’clock and demolishes the difference between art and life, labour and leisure.”

Kantor received the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts in 2004. In its citation, the jury said: “Istvan Kantor’s work in video and performance art is on the cutting and critical edge of contemporary art. His is an aggressive and unapologetic aesthetic of excess. Kantor’s interdisciplinary, no-holds-barred, neo-Dada art has earned him a large international following and a unique reputation. He embraces technology in order to confront, and revolt against, the mind-numbing and oppressive nature of technology and the power structures it supports.” 

To attend the opening reception at York’s Keele campus, downtowners can hop on the free performance bus at the Art Gallery of Ontario at 6pm and return at 8:30pm.

The AGYU has organized the following public programs around the exhibit:

  • Direct Art, Material Action, a film screening featuring the works of Kurt Kren and Otto Muehl Feb. 23 at 3:30pm and Feb. 27 at 2pm. Both screenings take place in the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102 Ross Building, York University.
  • A panel discussion on Istvan Kantor’s work March 8 at 4:30pm featuring York University professors: Steven Bailey, who teaches science and society; Shannon Bell, political science; and Jennifer Fisher, Canadian art history and curatorial studies. This discussion will consider how Kantor seeks to destabilize the stranglehold and omnipresence of technology and its attendant systems of social control throughout his video, installation, and performance work.
  • A free bus tour of exhibits at AGYU, the Koffler Gallery and the Doris McCarthy Gallery April 3. The bus departs from the Ontario College of Art and Design at 1pm and returns downtown at 4pm. Call the AGYU at 416-736-5169 to reserve a seat.