Performance with Two Sculptures
In Performance with Two Sculptures Mark Neufeld looks through the lens of what could be termed western vernacular to forge eccentric connections between painting, performance and sculpture. Neufeld presents a number of objects for consideration: a series of small oil on canvas paintings, collage-assemblages and a scripted performance for local actors employing as props two bronze sculptures by the well known “cowboy artist” Frederic Remington.
While researching and gathering materials for this exhibition, the artist learned that versions of these iconic bronze multiples exist in the art collection of the University of Manitoba, where the artist currently teaches. Neufeld became interested in the idea that these works could be taken out of storage—where they have languished since their reception—and put back into circulation within the context of contemporary art. In combination with the new objects Neufeld adds, the installation prompts us to reconsider history and the conditions of exhibiting, production and the demand in contemporary art for the quality of contemporaneity—of being current or of the present.
All of the works in the exhibition play with aspects of western iconography often associated with southern Alberta, but do so in ways that aim to de-familiarize these well-known tropes of the west. The concept of ‘the frontier’ for instance is generally acknowledged as having played a significant role in forging a western identity founded on seemingly unlimited opportunities, unbridled optimism, and a sense of entitlement that remains embedded in our culture to this day. For Neufeld, the bronzes Mountain Man and Bronco Buster reflect an aesthetic embodiment of this ideology, one which the artist deconstructs through a series of playful interventions including paintings, collages and assemblages that reanimate and recontextualize Remington’s iconic sculptures. Scripted performances utilizing these objects as props appropriate a host of sources ranging from westerns by John Ford to Canadian geological data, all intended to probe at questions of place, time and repetition, within the complicated context of “The West.”
Mark Neufeld is an artist working out of Winnipeg where he currently teaches at the University of Manitoba School of Art. He works with a variety of media, with painting as the starting point for his activities. His exhibitions often take the form of installations that interweave paintings with readymade objects, assemblages, and presentation strategies borrowed from the curatorial domain. Neufeld is the recipient of a number of awards and grants, including the Joseph Plaskett Award, which was created to support the recipient for a year of living and producing art abroad. He has exhibited across Canada, in the United States, in Germany, Australia and Norway, and most recently exhibited The Undiscovered Continent at Deluge Contemporary Art in Victoria BC, 55 Tschaikowskistrasse (along with Cedric Bomford) at Gallery Atsui in Vancouver, and The Greenhorn, a solo exhibition at Atelierhof Kreuzberg in Berlin, Germany.
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