WAG Explores Consumption Habits with Brian Jungen’s Vienna
Winnipeg, Manitoba, September 16: This fall the Winnipeg Art Gallery is thrilled to showcase Brian Jungen’s Vienna as part of the NGC@WAG partnership with the National Gallery of Canada. The impressive sculpture will be installed in Eckhardt Hall from October 4 to January 4, 2015.
Jungen ingeniously repurposes found objects, disassembling and reassembling them into spectacular sculptures which often reference Aboriginal traditions and culture. His now famous Prototypes for New Understanding (1998-2005) repurposes Nike Air Jordan sneakers to resemble Northwest Coast Aboriginal masks.
The third in a series of whale sculptures by the artist since 2000, Vienna makes a statement about cultural hybridity and institutional displays of marine life in aquariums and natural history museums. As with the earlier Shapeshifter (2000) and Cetology (2002), Jungen transforms hundreds of common white plastic patio chair found in discount stores around the world into a majestic whale skeleton.
Whales are considered by many Aboriginal groups to be an animal of great spiritual power, while whales in captivity are popular tourist attractions. With Vienna, Jungen explores the intersections and fluid boundaries between Aboriginal and Western cultures. Collectively, these ubiquitous chairs form a series of transactions, with each individual purchase then being broken apart and rejoined as something altogether new.
“By rendering this transmutation through his artistic process, Brian Jungen leads us to consider our own purchasing habits and the cycle of consumption we support when we purchase disposable commodities,” comments Dr. Stephen Borys, WAG Director & CEO. “His work will engage Winnipeggers in meaningful conversation. We are excited to feature this spectacular sculpture at the WAG.”
Jungen was born on a family farm north of St. John, BC. His father was a Swiss émigré to Canada and his mother was Aboriginal, a member of the Dane-zaa Nation. Jungen attended the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and later completed a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts. He won the inaugural Sobey Art Award in 2002 and the 2010 Gershon Iskowitz Prize. The former is the preeminent award for contemporary Canadian art, which this November will be presented at the WAG for the first time in Western Canada.
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