Traffic: Conceptual Art in Canada 1965 - 1980 brings together hundreds of works by more than 90 artists from across Canada in a sweeping survey of the conceptual art movement.
Conceptual art emerged in the context of the social and political turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s – from feminism and gay liberation to anti-racism and anti-war movements – and presented a profound challenge to the institution of art. In Vancouver, as elsewhere, conceptual art was both inspired by and an active participant in the ferment and fervour of the times. From Vincent Trasov’s Mr. Peanut campaign in 1974… to Gathie Falk’s examination of society’s constraints on women in her 1972 performance Red Angel… to the tongue-in-cheek wit of N.E. Thing’s productions… Vancouver artists bucked tradition and traditional views of art.
Mapping the diverse forms of conceptualism, the exhibition includes examples of performance art, film and video art, and many other art practices which broke new ground during the era. “This was a period of amazing experimentation in art” said Grant Arnold, Audain Curator of British Columbia Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery. “Conceptualism is one of the most wide-reaching and long-lasting artistic movements in the history of contemporary art and the movement’s influence in this country has long deserved this major recognition and attention.”
Traffic also presents notable early works by Christos Dikeakos, Rodney Graham, Jeff Wall and other now internationally renowned Vancouver-based artists. Other artists featured in Traffic include Vancouver’s Michael de Courcy, Carole Itter, Roy Kiyooka and N.E. Thing Co.; Toronto’s General Idea, Joyce Wieland and Michael Snow; Montreal’s William Vazan, David Tomas, Raymond Gervais and Rober Racine; Clive Robertson and Paul Woodrow in the prairies and pivotal conceptual artists such as John Baldessari and Lawrence Weiner who worked with artists in Atlantic Canada during this time period, making the Nova Scotia Centre for Art and Design into a crucible of artistic experimentation for artists in that region and across the continent.
Following its presentation in Vancouver, Traffic will travel to Badischer Kunstverein in Karslruhe, Germany in 2013.
Vancouver Art Gallery Website