Sleepless Nights: Visions from Western Canada
Robin Arsenault (Calgary, Alberta), Ken Buera (Calgary, AB), Kay Burns (Calgary, AB), Jason de Haan, Craig Le Blanc (Calgary, AB), Kris Lindskoog (Calgary, AB), Walter May (Calgary, AB), Phillip McCrum (Vancouver, BC), Robin Moody (Calgary, AB)
Runs from September 5, 2009 through to October 4, 2009
@ Kling and Bang Gallerí at Laugavegur 23, 101 in Reykjavík, Iceland
Born near Vídimyri, Iceland in 1853, Stephan G. Stephansson immigrated to the United States as a teenager and later moved to Markerville, Alberta towards the end of the nineteenth century. As a farmer he worked the land by day and, an insomniac, by night he honed his craft as a poet. Referred to as “The Poet of the Rocky Mountains”, he never left Canada to visit his native country until he was well into his sixties. Nonetheless, despite a nearly lifelong residence in North America, his prolific output and broad acclaim gained him recognition as one of Iceland’s most celebrated literary figures. In 1908, Stephansson’s oeuvre was documented in a six volume publication entitled Andvökur, or Sleepless Nights.
Sleepless Nights: Visions from Western Canada, a group exhibition that brings together nine contemporary artists from the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, looks to (re)engage the cultural and historical connections between Western Canada and Iceland. This exhibition not only borrows from Stephan G. Stephansson in its titling but, as well, draws inspiration from his unique poetic style, which through experimental means looked to blend divergent cultural influences in the merging of traditional Scandinavian metre with the philosophies of North American freethinkers of the period. Stephansson’s use of intricate metaphor and neologisms, and his interest in themes such as the romanticized landscape and the transient nature of life, resurface in new a meaningful ways through the current explorations of the artists included in this exhibition.
Sleepless Nights: Visions from Western Canada was developed in response to Sundogs: Contemporary Art from Iceland, a 2008 exhibition that saw the work of artists Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir, Erling T.V. Klingenberg, Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir, Pall Banine, Ragnar Kjartansson and Sirra Sigrun Sigurdardottir on display at TRUCK in Calgary, Alberta. Curated by David Diviney, a Nova Scotia based artist/curator, these two exhibitions serve as a continuation of his collaborative research with Icelandic artists and institutions that began over a decade ago.
This exhibition is produced by Kling&Bang Gallerí in partnership with TRUCK and is supported by Alberta Foundation for the Arts’ Cultural Relations Project Grant Program, The Embassy of Canada to Iceland in Reykjavik, and The Consulate General of Iceland in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Many of the artists in the exhibition have received individual travel and/or project assistance from various provincial and federal agencies including Alberta Foundation for the Arts and Canada Council for the Arts.