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Brian Sholis
Gallery director

September 13, 2017

Brian Sholis is executive director of Gallery TPW in Toronto. The gallery’s fall exhibition opens on September 14 with the premiere of a collaborative film by Jérôme Havre, Cauleen Smith, and Camille Turner. Sholis was previously curator of photography at the Cincinnati Art Museum and, before that, an editor at Aperture Foundation and Artforum. He has worked widely as a curator and programmer for museums; as an editor and author of books, magazines, and online texts; and as a professor, visiting critic, grant panelist, prize juror, and public speaker. His column in the September 2017 issue of Frieze looks at the response of Canadian art institutions to the sesquicentennial.

1. Jay Daniel's Paradise Valley

Late last year, the Detroit percussionist and producer Jay Daniel released what is, so far, my favorite song of 2017: a funky and inventive house track played on drums, not drum machines. A Fender Rhodes and other instruments float above its polyrhythms. Paradise Valley has accompanied me on countless walks and nighttime drives through my new city. (And, for that matter, in writing most of what’s below.)

2. Bernadette Mayer's Memory

Bernadette Mayer, Memory, 1971-1972

The owners of Canada New York, perhaps best known for their taste in painting, are currently exhibiting a 1971 multimedia installation from the poet and Conceptual artist Bernadette Mayer. It is an “emotional science project,” in Mayer’s words, exploring the ways photography, writing, and memory record experience and intersect with each other. A wall-length grid, composed of all the snapshots she took during July 1971, hangs in an otherwise empty gallery; it is accompanied by a six-hour recording of Mayer reading her impressionistic journal entries. Historical figures, quotidian events, and private obsessions blend together, as they do in any life.

3. Ellen Ullman's Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology

This collection brings together two decades of Ullman’s analytical, prescient essays on computer programming, the culture of San Francisco’s technology scene, and the expansion of those two phenomena into mainstream society. To read her essays from the late 1990s is to recognize that what seems unique about today’s networked world was visible to someone thinking and writing as the web first gained widespread attention.

4. @gangculture

Were it not for the familiarly harsh light and the occasional palm tree, you might not know Trevor Hernandez was prowling Los Angeles. His deadpan street photographs call to mind both Ed Ruscha (in their poker-faced humor) and Anthony Hernandez (in their slightly downtrodden subject matter). I don’t know what neighbourhoods he prowls, but I know I wouldn’t see half the bent and broken geometries he does, nor would I be able to capture them as adroitly.

5. Colophon Foundries & Klim Type

I am paying increasing attention to type design and I greatly admire the work of these two indie foundries. Colophon makes amazing specimens for its typefaces, most often in the form of limited-run publications. Klim’s blog is an inspiring archive of design writing and insightful interviews. Want to explore further? This list, from Giorgio Mininno, is a good place to start.



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