Remembering David Askevold
NGC exhibits collection by the Canadian contemporary artist
DAVID DIVINEY, CURATOR of exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, has organized a collection of contemporary art by David Askevold in memory of the artist who died in 2008. Thirty-nine works, including sculptures, film and video, photo-text works, and digital images, are on display at the National Gallery of Canada until Jan. 8, 2012, in an exhibition titled Once Upon a Time in the East.
Art is about perspective. It’s not always easy to see what the artist wants you to see. Contemporary art is an art form that challenges the onlooker to think.
“[Askevold] was one of the most important contributors to the development and pedagogy of conceptual art,” says Diviney.
“He was a true pioneer. His film and videos from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s were some of the first of the art form the world ever saw.”
The difficulty for most gallery visitors when they view the exhibit is understanding what Askevold communicates through his art.
“[Askevold] continually tested ingrained aesthetic notions and he asks the viewer to do the same when approaching his work,” says Diviney.
One example of how Askevold pushed the boundaries of contemporary art was through different mediums to play with the mind of the observer. Certain pieces of the exhibit feature overlapping soundtracks that don’t necessarily connect to the images presented on the screen. This disconnect of senses is one of the ways Askevold led developments in contemporary art.
The title of the exhibition originates from a work by Askevold, “The Nova Scotia Project: Once Upon a Time in the East”, completed in 1993.
“This title locates the artist as one from Eastern Canada and, as well, elicits notions of storytelling,” says Diviney.
“[Askevold] was quite interested in storytelling. In diverse media, he created works that, while narrative in form, continually defied a linear read.”
A celebration of Askevold’s life work, this exhibition was created with the hope of drawing attention to his important contribution to the world of art.
“I knew [Askevold] well and always held a great admiration for his work,” Diviney says. “I felt it was crucial following his death in 2008 to take full measure of his efforts. Hopefully this platform will allow for this.”
The highly influential artist helped shape the next generation of contemporary artists. After Jan. 8, the exhibit will continue to move across the country so Canadians can experience Askevold’s revolutionary contribution to the field.
“We’re in dialogue with several international venues, including one in Los Angeles where [Askevold] has a rich history and strong following,” says Diviney.
“Once Upon a Time in the East is aimed at generating conversation about the various strains of his practice,” says Diviney.
“Throughout his 40-year career, he remained at the vanguard of contemporary practice.”
—Michelle Ferguson and Christopher Radojewski