Once upon a time I went to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (@ArtGalleryNS) quite often. School trips, family excursions, or a day-trip with a sitter. But, once out of grade school I hardly ever stopped in.
Until, back in January, AGNS lured me in with GOLD. Gold, a Nova Scotia Treasure was a collaboration with AGNS and one of my favourite museums, The Museum of Industry in New Glasgow. The exhibit was the perfect mix of art and history, and left me eager to see what else the art gallery had up their sleeves.
Two weeks ago, they launched their newest exhibit Once Upon a Time in the East. The exhibit revolves around Contemporary artist David Askevold. Askevold is an American born artist who spent much of his career living in Halifax and working at NSCAD. He is considered one of the pioneers of conceptual video art a bit of history.
David Diviney, the exhibits curator, led me on a tour of the gallery, discussing key pieces and influences in a collection made up of sculpture/installation, film, photo-text words, and late digital images. His work explores written instruction and game theory.
I have to admit, I felt a little silly at first. Much of the main floor of the exhibit is quite contemporary, something I am not well versed in. I didn’t know what questions to ask, and try as I might I couldn’t get into some of the more obscure video and structural works.
But then, we turned a corner (both literally and figuratively) and I laid my eyes on this…
Askevold did a series of appropriated sonar images of the Halifax Harbour. Using some of the earlier versions of photoshop he added artistic elements embedded fact and fiction. The series of four photos explore mythologies, military history, and other historical elements. They are beautiful works that showcase our harbour, a main lifeblood of the city, in a new, artistic light.
From there we went upstairs to view The Nova Scotia Project. The Nova Scotia Project is a large-scale, multi-disciplinary work that Askevold created in the mid 90’s. It is made up of four works that center around Nova Scotia.
The first, Once Upon a Time in the East, is a collection of aerial photos of thousands of small craft harbours in Nova Scotia. This large scale project is laid out.
The Road Journal was by far my favourite collection. Over one year, Askevold travelled all of Nova Scotia, photographing our highways at road level. The whole Nova Scotia Project subtly hints at the struggles of day to day existence in a rural community. You get a sense of waiting, and of a similar story played out in many places around our shores.
This exhibit gave me a really cool new perspective of our province. I spent quite a bit of time examining The Road Journal, taking delight in seeing a unique view of each town. Even with my limited artistic knowledge I left with a better understanding of our shared space and how we each frame our experiences of that place.
Once Upon a Time in the East is hot off of a tour to the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), The Confederation Centre Art Gallery (Charlottetown), and The Armoury (Los Angeles). It was named one of the top 50 shows of 2011 by Artforum.
The exhibit runs until June 23. Admission is $12 per person, $10 for seniors and $7 for students. You can also check out the exhibit free of charge every Thursday between 5pm-9pm courtesy of BMO Financial Group.
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
1723 Hollis Street