Life of a Craphead at Truck Contemporary Art, Calgary
Artist duo Life
Life of a Craphead, King Edward VII Equestrian Statue Floating Down the Don River, 2017 (photo: Yuula Benivolski)
Near the gallery entrance is a video featuring a statue of a regal figure astride a horse floating down a river. King Edward VII Equestrian Statue Floating Down the Don River posits a new history for this figure, essentially “dumping” it out of the public sphere. As a decolonial gesture, the performance in Toronto and subsequent video reassembles a piece of history to suggest a retelling as settler Canadians negotiate through reconciliation.
Chris Cran ‘Self-Portrait with Combat Nymphos of Saigon’ Painting Made into a Tote Bag is an appropriated painting that evades being a painting at all. The piece is derived from a work by the Alberta painter Chris Cran that was subsequently made into promotional material. Lam and McCurley reappropriate the work while simultaneously deconstructing it in a literal and figurative sense. Two large sections are cut out of the image. The act of ripping into the artwork, whether recreated or real, is a reclamation that references Edward Said’s notion of Orientalism and otherness through criticality, humour, and relative ease.
A text and visuals work titled It’s More Common Than You Would Think was commissioned specifically for this exhibition. It explores McCurley’s family history – in particular, an incident when his grandmother was robbed and killed by an off-duty American soldier in Vietnam. Through tender, rudimentary pen drawings and a woven narrative, the artists sketch out the tragic tale. The text is written in a colloquial fashion that is eloquent in its ability to retell a story lost to family secrets, mystery, and untold truths. Like much of the exhibition, this piece retells history to offer a reorienting of the truth.
Maeve Hanna is a writer and curator who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours in Visual Art and Literature from York University and the University of Leeds and a Master of Arts in Art History and Icelandic Studies from Université du Québec à Montréal and the University of Manitoba on location in Iceland. She has previously written for Black Flash, C Magazine, Canadian Art, esse arts + opinions, Frieze, Sculpture Magazine and the Senses and Society. She is Akimblog’s Calgary correspondent and can be followed on Instagram @mcbchanna.