‘The Birds and the Bees’ and more in C Magazine

Reviewing exhibitions for the quarterly art magazine circuit is an exercise in deferred pleasure, but it’s well worth the surprise of having a freshly printed issue materialize in your mailbox as a friendly reminder that yes, you did write something a few months ago, didn’t you? Not to mention, new magazine smell.

The most recent issue of C Magazine looks an absolute treat to my love of printed matter with its thematic focus on libraries. While taking the time to enjoy the in-depth articles on the Whole Earth Catalog and Dexter Sinister, I would also not-so-humbly recommend a read of my review of The Birds and the Bees, an outstanding group exhibition curated by Marnie Fleming at Oakville Galleries’ Gairloch Gardens.

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Aganetha Dyck, The Promise and The Whisper. From the Masked Ball Series. Beework on figurine, both 2008.

Anyone who is even passingly familiar with my studio research and work in recent times will understand exactly why I latched onto this show as a subject of review. There are gorgeous works on the ever-admirable works of bees, not least of which are excerpts from Aganetha Dyck’s Masked Ball Series of figurines. To paraphrase myself in the review, this exhibition would have been unthinkable without her.

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Kristiina Lahde, Hive. Altered telephone books, 2009/2011 (Source: www.kristiinalahde.com)

The greater strength in The Birds and the Bees is in Fleming’s knack for bringing well-known names like Dyck and Liz Magor together with artists whose works were rather new to me. Kristiina’s Lahde’s Hive was a strikingly concise addition to the conversation, and I even warmed to art that was all birds and no bees, such as Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s entrancing filmed footage of a habitat for zebra finches with electric guitars installed at London’s Barbican Art Centre.

My review, in preview of its first two paragraphs:

Nested amid manicured grounds on one of Lake Ontario’s more pristine shorelines, Oakville Galleries’ Gairloch Gardens is an artificial adaptation that has forged a garden from what was once a wild shore and a gallery from what was once a home. Groundskeepers clad in an unnatural shade of orange keep the grass trimmed to orderly precision alongside Canadian geese grazing beyond the former mansion’s walls; these iconic birds are unperturbed by the roar of leaf blowers and the curiosity of tourists, as placidly domesticated as the grass they eat.

Gairloch Gardens’ tamed wilderness provides an inescapable context for The Birds and the Bees, a group exhibition curated by Marnie Fleming that rapidly wings itself away from the naïve courtships implied by such a title. With so many gallery windows offering views of those carefully kept gardens, the exhibition invites that element inside as part of a sometimes delicate, but more often strictly human negotiation for space alongside the birds and bees that also seek a home on this tenuous planet.

Pick up an issue of C Magazine 111 to read the rest.


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