Alberta Biennial buzz

The 2007 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art: Living Utopia and Disaster opens Saturday at the Walter Phillips Gallery in Banff. With works by 22 Alberta artists the exhibition speaks to the many predicaments of living in a booming fossil-fuel-guzzling and sometimes culturally apathetic province. It’s a must-see survey of what Alberta artists are getting up to in our gorgeous natural environments our booming cities and in their own studios.

Pieces by Calgary artists will be familiar to local audiences: Kay Burns’s Converse showed at TRUCK last year and Sarah Adams-Bacon’s Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt made a public appearance as a self-published artist book of the expansive series of original drawings in the show. New audiences will be intrigued by both of the works.

Watch for Jennifer Bowes’s swath of fabric knitted from shredded book pages that cascades down an entire wall Annie Martin’s Nervous Space audio installation and a piece by ex-pat Paul Robert. His web database and gigantically confounding book project import ideas and a highly technical focus that rarely appears in Alberta art. Mary Kavanagh’s video postcards from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico are sublimely filmed with a flawless installation to match. In addition to installation drawing textiles web and video the re-emergence of painting as a going concern for the 2007 Biennial is big news. Painting fans will find a lot to look at — from the photo-realist depiction of disaster aftermath in David Janzen’s Welcome to Arcadia to glossy abstract works on aluminum by Laurel Smith.

As a further enticement to take in this weekend’s opening previously unreleased works by Robin Arsenault and Jonathan Kaiser are included in the Biennial’s Banff incarnation. To Calgarians who missed the show at The Art Gallery of Alberta’s temporary location this summer: don’t skip out on the trip this time. It is the autumn exhibition destination in Alberta.

Other artists in the exhibition include Jarusha Brown Calgarians Ken Buera Chris Flodberg Anu Guha-Thakurta Terrance Houle Geoffrey Hunter Linh Ly and Mark Mullin; and from around the province Richard Boulet Julian Forrest Paul Freeman and Kristy Trinier.

Watch these pages throughout November and December for interviews with the Alberta Biennial artists and in-depth discussion of their works.