Plug In ICA, Winnipeg
Opens Feb 15, 2008
By Amy Karlinsky
Winnipeg is famous for its art fundraisers — posh spreads at the Hotel Fort Garry, the now legendary, wall-to-wall frenzies at aceart, MAWA’s carnivalesque Dollhouse where bidding comes under pressure of time, Platform’s triple exposure . . . the list goes on. Even the dreaded Bingo nights, run by the provincial lotteries corporation are prairie ritual for non-profits — where stoic board members and tense volunteers pace the floor, recovering from the anxiety of providing ten warm bodies to ensure they’ll profit from the event. Ten is required, or it’s a “no go” on the easy $3,000.
Plug In has been an Institute of Contemporary Art for some time, shifting its mandate from an artist-run centre to. . . still something like an artist-run centre where seriously good art, architecture and design reign. It’s still trendy and naughty, ambitious and committed to excellence, but like other arts organizations, Plug In ICA requires funds beyond what membership, publication sales, equipment rentals, and the public sector can provide. Its recent art fundraisers begin with novel premise for artistic interpretation.
Like the Fabulous Fakes with a Twist, a send up of Group of Seven painting and the subsequent Fab Fakes, a riff on Pop Art, the upcoming Dream House is an exhibition and a fundraiser. Curator Steven Matijico explains that the show “explores the uncanny topography of the domestic environment.” The premise is a foil for artists to reconsider the built environment from multiple points: consumer driven, fantasy laden, consumption infused, gender making, material expanding, and body encoding. Will it be an average “contents sale?” I doubt it. The early images are intriguing, raising hopes for more imaginative and provocative work. The preliminary roster of artists and furniture designers includes Keith Oliver, Lynn Richardson, Bernie Miller, Elvira Finnigan, Ken Lum, Germaine Koh, Douglas Coupland and Chris Dorosz, a roster sure to change and expand as the opening draws near.
Canada’s climate ensures that most of us construct our domesticity in some way through the perennial engagements with food, shelter, pleasure, comfort and nurture. Dream House opens February 15, when curbside snowbanks crunch and thicken, car exhaust obscures pedestrians, and weary Winnipeggers peek out their doors, suffering from cabin fever. The show’s six-week duration may be ample time to heal the worst afflicted.