Three new exhibitions will open the spring season at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba with a public reception on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
The Main Gallery will showcase Brandon-based artist Barb Flemington’s collections of found objects in "Specimen Gardens" and Winnipeg photographer David McMillan’s photographs of the abandoned Ukrainian city of Pripyat, site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, in "Exclusion Zone."
Both exhibitions speak to obsolescence, growth and the constant tension between the inevitability of change and desire for preservation.
In the Community Gallery, Angie Currie Nor Addin’s installation "After Loss" draws from her experience of travel to Chernobyl and Pripyat and focuses on the tragic losses that followed the nuclear meltdown.
Flemington’s reconfiguration and arrangement of obsolete objects combines her private collections with those of the AGSM alongside specimens from other institutions, such as taxidermy birds from the B.J. Hales Collection. The artist will rearrange these "specimen gardens" many times throughout the exhibition.
Meanwhile, McMillan’s haunting images of the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant depict a city simultaneously suspended in time and undergoing constant change. He has been travelling to Ukraine every year since 1994 to photograph the 30-kilometre contaminated zone around the plant after a reactor meltdown in 1986 left the city uninhabitable.
Like the objects in Flemington’s collections, McMillan’s photographs of Chernobyl and Pripyat show places in a state of constant flux, where time is made tangible through growth and decay.
Nor Addin’s installation "After Loss" also responds to the reactor meltdown in Chernobyl and the evacuation of the surrounding towns.
After learning about the disaster and seeing McMillan’s photographs of cities and villages taken over by nature, Nor Addin travelled to the area in 2008 and 2009, and has been making work about it ever since.
The word Chernobyl means "black grass" or "black stalks," which foreshadowed the leaking of radiation into the ground and the subsequent burial of entire towns and forests in an attempt to contain contamination.
Nor Addin’s use of clay, with its origin in the earth, strives to express the failure to contain the release of an invisible force that forever transformed the lives of those who were told to evacuate for only three days and were never allowed to return.
The three artists will be in attendance at the opening, and the exhibitions will remain free and open to the public until June 7 in the Main Gallery, and May 17 in the Community Gallery.
The Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, located at 710 Rosser Ave., can be accessed either from The Town Centre parkade or the first floor of The Town Centre mall through the elevators near the library. Parking in The Town Centre is free for AGSM visitors.
Gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday evenings until 9 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. Afterhours workshops and tours are available by appointment.
The curator’s tour of the exhibitions will take place on Thursday, April 10, at 6 p.m.