Entering the ring at the RMG just in time for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games is an exhibit that is sure to be a knockout.
Boxing is a metaphor for life, filled with battles lost and won. In Boxing: The Sweet Science, curator Linda Jansma captures this expression through pieces that convey the movement, power and elegancy of the sport.
Oshawa named as the host of the boxing events for the Pan Am Games served as the catalyst for the exhibit based around the sport commonly referred to as The Sweet Science (a term coined by the British journalist and sportswriter Pierce Egan in the early 1800s). The city has a rich history in the sport as home to three-time Canadian featherweight champion Grant O’Reilly who operated two boxing clubs here in Oshawa. The dramatic nature of this heavy-hitting sport has ignited a passion among artists throughout history, dating back to the Mesopotamian era that includes literature, art and drama.
A knowledge as vast as the Rocky series is not need in order to appreciate the works in Boxing: The Sweet Science. The exhibit features 12 artists whose works, spanning over 100 years, align with the centralized theme of the art and spirit of boxing.
In British photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s work Boxing, open hand printed in November 1887, the physical intensity and athleticism of boxing is captured in 16 separate frames. While this piece is more of a literal interpretation of the sport, John J. A. Murphy’s Shadowboxing, 1924 adorns an abstract vision of boxing.
In addition to history works, Boxing: The Sweet Science features contemporary pieces that capture the essence of the sport.
In Stop Beating Yourself Up, Montreal-based performance artist Coral Short addresses the stigma that boxing is a man’s game. For the video, created in 2013, Short is donned in a boxer’s uniform while beating herself unconscious using “semi-believable” moves she learned while training with boxers. The graphic nature of this video is hard to watch but contains a message with a powerful punch.
“I think [the work] is about learning to love ourselves more as women and queers. To bring awareness to the negative and damaging thought patterns that exist within us. Women often tend to make a sport of self-deprecation internally,” says Short. “I wanted to briefly jolt and re-hardwire our neutral pathways so they become less automatic habits. I want us all to move into a place of peace, self-acceptance and love.”
Similar to Short, Toronto photographer Pete Doherty uses boxing as a way to depict the war inside the artist. A part of the boxing scene for several decades now, the sport and its community helped lift Doherty out of years of depression. He began to photograph what he was experiencing as both the artist and the subject, giving viewers a look on the inside of boxing. The black-and-white photographs in Boxing: The Sweet Science depict a ringside and in the ring view including images of trainers and boxers alike, capturing the key moments of the sport.
Whether it is as an exercising method in World War I as depicted in an anonymous photograph or cubist depictions of pugilists, boxing depicts the exterior and interior battle we fight as humans.
Boxing: The Sweet Science is on from May 30 to September 13 with an opening at RMG Fridays, June 5 at 7-10 pm and a Talk and Tour on Sunday, June 28 at 1-3 pm.
By Raechel Bonomo
Vol ‘n’ Tell is an ongoing series of blog posts written by RMG Volunteers. Raechel Bonomo is an art enthusiast and writer from Oshawa, Ont.
Image at top: George Bellows, American (1882-1925), The White Hope (detail), 1921, Lithograph on paper, 48.5 x 60.8 cm, Collection of the Art Gallery of Hamilton; gift of Mr. and Mrs. J.A. McCuaig, 1965, Photo credit: Michael Lalich.
Following the Pan Am Games 2015 torch relay on Friday June 5, National Hum and Steady Hussle start the party as we open Boxing: The Sweet Science, David Rokeby: Very Nervous System, A Visionary Journey and Lynn McIlvide in Gallery A..
For more information:
Boxing: The Sweet Science – http://www.rmg.on.ca/boxing-sweet-science.php
David Rokeby – http://www.rmg.on.ca/rokeby-very-nervous-system.php
A Visionary Journey – http://www.rmg.on.ca/lipman-visionary-journey.php
Steady Hussle – https://www.facebook.com/steadyhussle
National Hum – https://www.facebook.com/NationalHum
On the first Friday of the month, join the RMG in celebrating local talent. The gallery buzzes with live musical performances, interactive art experiences, open gallery spaces, social mingling and more. Suitable for music lovers, youth, families, date nights, and culture-vultures.
Free to attend | 7-10pm | Cash Bar | All ages welcome.
Follow the twitter feed at #RMGFridays!
The RMG is grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their support of this programming.
On 23 May, the RMG will open Puppet Act: Manipulating the Voice. We asked Senior Curator Linda Jansma to share with us her inspirations behind this exciting and dynamic summer exhibition. Join us for the opening on Sunday, 7 June from 1-3pm.
An April 2010 article in the Walrus magazine, profiling internationally renowned Canadian puppeteer Ronnie Burkett, got me thinking. Then, a fall 2010 visit to Uxbridge artist Diana Lopez Soto sealed it. I had to curate a show on puppets. And now, five years later, here we finally are.
My “puppet” file is four centimeters thick and I can assure you that listening to my latest amazing puppet find has even tested the patience of some RMG staff. But the project kept being pushed back as other exhibitions came along that were more time-sensitive. I could as easily have kept putting it off—once the final selection of artists and works were made, I continue to be contacted about other possible inclusions.
Puppet Act: Manipulating the Voice is comprised of both historic and contemporary work including two works that are being created specifically for this exhibition by Diana Lopez Soto and Catherine Heard. Spring Hurlbut’s words, while specific to ventriloquism, are appropriate: “It is such a curious and complex relationship one has with the inanimate becoming animated.” Within this exhibition, the inanimate are given voice—complex and multi-layered ones that for me, were worth the wait.
– Linda Jansma, Senior Curator
Image: Diana Lopez Soto, Human Factor IX; threads and variations, 2015, Installation: video and mixed media
Submission Deadline: 6 April 2015
ABOUT THE PROJECT
In conjunction with the Toronto 2015 Pan /Parapan American Games, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in partnership with the Motor City Boxing Club, invite regional artists to produce new works inspired by the sport of boxing. Selected artists will be invited to visit the Motor City Boxing Club (Oshawa), observe athletes in training, work in situ at the club and produce new work based on their observations.
Artists are encouraged to work in a wide variety of visual media including drawing, painting, photography, media and integrated art forms. The resulting work will be displayed in a group exhibition in Gallery A @the RMG in conjunction with other PAN AM exhibition programming
Selected artists are provided a fee of $250.00
Notification: by 10 April
Drop off work (ready to display): Monday 13 July, 1pm
Exhibition duration: 14 July – 2 August
Opening Reception: Sunday 19 July 1-3pm
Pick up artwork: Tuesday 4 August, 9am
Open to all professional artists and collectives residing in the Durham Region
Letter of intent (maximum 1 page)
3-5 digital images or other relevant work
A current artist CV and biography in PDF format
Images courtesy of Motor City Boxing.
With the support of the Aked Endowment and funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, the RMG is embarked on an exciting new initiative aimed at fostering a thriving local arts community. During the summer of 2014, we renovated our space to create a professional exhibition space reserved for exhibiting the work of local artists, community collaborations, and themed group exhibits.
Opportunities are available for community partnerships and special initiatives as well as an annual artist residency that prioritizes artists who wish to experiment with new ideas, collaborate, and work in new directions. Exhibiting artists will have opportunities to give public talks on their work, participate in professional development workshops, and give and receive critical feedback from peers. Programming of this space is separate from our curatorial planning and proposal selections will be made through a jury of local artists and arts professionals.
Sunday 15 March, 2015
Projects will take place from September 2015 to February 2016.
More info and to apply: http://www.rmg.on.ca/gallery-a-about.php
Image: Pete Smith speaking about his exhibition Postscript, 2015.
“Hot Topics” blog posts come from the desk of Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications & Social Media Coordinator.
The RMG caught up with Running on Empty’s guest curator Heather Nicol for a quick chat about the exhibition and her artistic practice.
RMG: Firstly, please tell us a bit about who are you and your curatorial/ artistic practice?
Heather Nicol: I’m an artist and independent curator based in Toronto. I’ve created exhibitions for gallery spaces, but more often I work in what might be considered off-site locations, such as underutilized or repurposed urban spaces. My installations often are cited in public places, such as large atriums or, for example, in the great Hall of the Union station. Also in unusual exhibition venues, such as an crumbling rail terminus in Buffalo, a three-story carriage house in upstate New York, or in a château, in France. I am very excited about a large-scale public art project coming up in March, in lower Manhattan’s Winter Garden, an enormous barrel vaulted interior space opposite the new World Trade Center.
RMG: What was the inspiration behind Running On Empty? Oshawa has a long history with the car – does this play into your exhibition at all?
HN: Architecture or geography serve as a point of departure in my curatorial work. I am interested in ways that the histories and physical properties of exhibition spaces impact the reception of the art that is presented in them.
So, yes, Oshawa’s, and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery’s history with the automobile industry afforded me the opportunity to pursue an idea that had been percolating concerning cars as a mediating force in our relationship with the landscape.
RMG: How did you select the artists in the exhibition?
HN: I seem to have a strange habit of keeping a lookout for potential off-site exhibition venues as I go through life, whether it’s a vacant warehouse or decommission school. I have thought that a wonderful old-fashioned gas station near where I live would be a terrific place to create a show about cars, and have kept an eye on it for years, wondering it it might close or be up for rent. Ironically, it’s up for rent right now!
From from the beginning of my thinking about this show, I hoped to include the famous traffic jam sequence from Jean-Luc Godard’s 1967 film “Weekend”. I saw the film in my early 20s, and that particular imagery has apparently been tucked away in my mind for years. It is quite fantastic.
Early on, I thought of some of the artists that are in Running On Empty, including Kim Adams and John Massey. I met Elinor Whidden while on a residency in Newfoundland, and Ioved the way she links cars and highways with historical notions of landscape. Her work inspired a shift in my musings about this possible show, away from auto bodies, toward the idea of the car as transportation device, particularly in relationship to the vast landscapes of Canada. I have previously worked with Monica Tap and Seth Scriver, both of whom have works that are very well suited to this idea – Seth’s film was made in collaboration with Shayne Ehman. I saw Asphalt Watches at its premier at TIFF, and was especially enthusiastic about the way it links with the Godard movie. I was interested in locating an artist who worked with taxidermy animals, in part inspired by a close friend’s terrifying account of hitting a bear, and the ensuing encounter with the animal’s body. It was through online research that I discovered Montreal based Kate Puxley, whose work “TransCanada” is a wonderful addition to the project.
RMG: We love the exhibition play list – can you please tell us more about it?
HN: It began with the titles for the show, Running On Empty, which is a 1977 song by Jackson Browne. That tune captures the groove of road trips, and for me, memories of listening to songs on car radios. At the same time, it refers to the ominous under belly of our relationship to cars – our reliance on fossil fuels, the environmental impacts, etc. The idea of running out of gas, both figuratively and metaphorically, seemed perfect for this show.
Last fall I spent an enjoyable afternoon with three dear friends with whom I took a road trip to the Maritimes thirty years ago. It was actually a cycling trip, but who’s counting wheels! the four of us began brainstorming the rich history of songs on the subject. Solidifying this spontaneous list-making experience, with the song’s names hastily written on paper towel, into a document for the exhibition catalogue felt like a wonderful extension of the way I approach curating, which is from the position of an artist. I take pleasure in bringing form to whimsical notions, and hope our readers will enjoy it. The playlist is not historically researched, it is a simple expression of our collective memories at that particular moment in time.
Stills from film Asphalt Watches, Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver
Monica Tap, One-second Hudson no. 4, 2007
Kate Puxley, from the series Trans-Canada, 2011-ongoing