Land Song

Clark Ferguson and Troy Gronsdahl

I created a video and sound installation comprised of a woodwind quintet playing in the Northern Saskatchewan wilderness. I filmed their individual performances and layered them to create a harmonic media installation.

The location of the performance has personal resonance. In 2020, I purchased a small parcel of land on the cusp of the boreal forest in the northern parkland region. It is located on Treaty 6 territory bordering the Prince Albert National Park, delineated by a meandering, slow-moving river. There is abundant animal life in the area: the Sturgeon River plains bison herd, deer, elk, black bears, coyotes, and the Amyot wolf pack. I’ve encountered fox, porcupines, skunks and squirrels and frost fringed boroughs where little creatures dwell.

The site is located at the bottom of a valley and sound reverberates great distances. I have heard an eerie chorus of wolf voices carried on the wind and elk bugling in the night. I have captured audio recordings of these animal voices which provide a reference point for the development of the musical performance. The melody is in tune with these more than human voices and I consider it a kind of human response to call of the land and animals.

I have developed a score around on a simple structure that alternates between played notes and rests based on the length of each performer’s breath. The musicians are directed to hold a note for one breath, rest for one breath, before playing again for one breath. They are directed to increase the rest period between notes by one breath increments, until it reaches 5 breaths, then the cycle reverses. I suppose it could be considered as much a breathing score and a musical one. The variation in the individual’s rate of breathing creates an organic composition where individual instruments fall into or out of synchronization. There is no musical progression as such, rather each player contributes a single note in a cord building a layered harmonic composition.

Project Credits
Music Consultation: Stephanie Unverricht
Sound and Consultation: Darren Miller
DOP: Clark Ferguson
Photo Documentation: Carey Shaw
Woodwind Quintet:
Bassoon: Stephanie Unverricht
Clarinet: Celestino de Pedro
Flute: Rowan Froh
Horn: Samuel Dmyterko
Oboe: Tyrell Hardlotte

The artist acknowledges the support of SK Arts.

Ligatures Suite 1

Ligatures Suite 1
Artist portfolio in Solander museum case
25.5 x 31.3 inches

The moment when the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticed.
Total Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017, 11:34 AM local time.
Cyanotype on acid free & archival paper

a continuous potentiality, 2017
Letterpress impression on acid free & archival paper

Ways of Looking, 2011-present
Three Black and white photographs

The same as the shape of an object [Specific Objects], 2016
Hand-bound book, 28 pages, offset and digital print

Ways of Listening – Performance



Troy Gronsdahl & Darren Miller
Ways of Listening, Performance
October 20, 2018
AKA artist-run centre

Photo documentation by Carey Shaw


Ways of Listening was performed by Troy Gronsdahl and Darren Miller on October 20, 2018. During the performance, audience members were invited to explore the resonant properties my unfired clay vessels. The performance culminated with an interpolation of “Tijuana Taxi” written by Evran Coleman and recorded by Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass (1965).

One Once on Which Whatever What – Exhibition

Troy Gronsdahl
One Once on Which Whatever What
September 14 – October 20, 2018
AKA artist-run
List of works
When the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticed.
Total Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017, 11:34 AM local time.
Cyanotype on paper
When the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticed.
Solstice, June 20, 2017, 10:24 PM local time.
Cyanotype on paper
39 x 50 inches
When the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticed.
Equinox, March 20, 2018, 10:15 AM local time.
Cyanotype on paper
45 x 60 inches
When the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticed.
Aphelion, July 6, 2018, 10:46 AM local time.
Cyanotype on paper
When the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticed.
Equinox, September 22, 2017, 2:01 PM local time.
Cyanotype on paper
Ways of Listening, 2018
Unfired clay

Ways of thinking (exhibition essay)

An essay written by Rose Bouthillier on the occasion of the exhibition One Once on Which Whatever What at AKA artist-run September 14-October 20, 2018.

Download the PDF

Ways of thinking

  1. just enough

Troy Gronsdahl used these words to describe one of his chosen materials to me. This phrasing stuck in my mind, becoming a broader notion for thinking through his practice. While at first it might appear to imply offhandedness, or even a lackadaisical work ethic, neither is the case. There is a fine edge between not enough and too much. This tension is often apparent in Gronsdahl’s work; underscored, regarded and worried about. Whether through process, form, historical reference or sentiment, arriving at this edge is a delicate undertaking. It wavers constantly, impossible to hold.

This enough sits on the surface of Gronsdahl’s ongoing series of cyanotype prints, When the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticed. The series started on March 20, 2015, marking the transition from winter to spring. Each print in the series corresponds with a cosmic phenomenon: most often an equinox or solstice, though recent additions include a total solar eclipse and an aphelion (the point at which the Earth is farthest from the Sun). The results range from soft, atmospheric gradations to semblances of crumpled bed sheets and haphazard sun bleaching. They alternate (often on a single surface), between evoking celestial expanse and stressing their own obstinate, unpredictable materiality.

Making the cyanotypes requires patience and attention to details: carefully mixed chemistry, cleanly taped edges and an even coat, free of debris. The prints are exposed in the artist’s Saskatoon studio, absorbing ambient light for a 24-hour period, roughly from midnight to midnight. Gronsdahl meticulously sets the conditions, but the medium is hard to control, moving from wet to dry to wet to dry, with all of the attendant molecular and material shifts. A number of variables affect the outcome fluctuations in temperature and humidity, proximity to windows and other objects in the studio, clouds and particulates. In appearance, the cyanotypes echo the spare ambiguity of monochrome painting, repeating like exercises in looking at blue. Minimalism starts from a point of austerity (even as imbued with a range of aesthetic, philosophical and spiritual propositions). Reductive. Rigorous. Clear. Gronsdahl takes a genre rife with repetition and control, and floods it with happenstance and sensitivity.

While the series is driven by cosmic events, only the artist knows if the exposures took place when their titles claim. Other than large shifts in the intensity and duration of sunlight, there is little to indicate the season of their making, let alone the precise day. There’s humor in this futility, but also romanticism. If photography is a way of gathering or affirming knowledge of the world, what do these proto-photos relay? They are pictures of not knowing, of diligent longing and passing time. Here “brief” and “largely unnoticed” apply to order in the stars, but they also hint at the fleeting inconsequence of one’s own actions and life.


  1. on and on

As an ongoing series, When the cosmos aligned... provides a methodology but doesn’t make promises. There is no strict rhythm or set duration. The cyanotypes will be made when they are claimed to be until they no longer are. Such open-ended repetition often plays out in Gronsdahl’s work, as a way of continuing and concentrating.

Ways of listening (begun in 2015) consists of hundreds of humble wheel-thrown ceramics.[1] The smoothly curved surfaces remain unfired; fragile and useless for the functions their forms imply. Instead, they offer aural experiences. Held up to an ear, each reveals its own tenor of void, like a distant rushing wind. As with the cyanotypes, there is an element of absurdity. The series presents objects that work against utility and logic, requiring hours of effort at the potter’s wheel to form perpetually empty vessels. In countering expectation, in presenting next to nothing, the vessels ask for deeper consideration of their objecthood, the poetics of their making, and the value of attention paid. They operate not only as individual pieces but also as an undertaking, a volume.


  1. close readings

The on-going-ness of Gronsdahl’s serial productions also finds expression in his “remediated texts.” For these he alters the writing of other artists, critics and theorists, erasing most of the originals in order to carve out new compositions.  The series began with Donald Judd’s “Specific Objects” (1965), followed by Michael Fried’s, “Art and Objecthood” (1967), and has continued on a slow, anachronistic path through art theory since minimalism.[2] Gronsdahl describes this undertaking as a “fractured, disorienting compendium that sits in contrast to orderly historical narratives.”[3] The altered texts read like poems, fragments of introspective language that float on mostly empty pages. From the first book, The same as the shape of an object [Specific Objects] (2016), this page stands out as a personal annotation, an apt reflection on the manner and process of Gronsdahl’s own work:


Once again/though it would make/no difference/It is as though one/has no duration—/no time at all/to speak/as only partly present/if only one were/more/acute, a single infinitely brief instant would be long enough to see everything.


Even if one is familiar with the sources, and tries to read through understandings of them, there are too many blanks to fill in. Reading them feels like going over the memories of a long-ago day, words smattered on the page like a series of impressions, bits of clarity drawn from a cloud. The remediated texts are personal and idiosyncratic, and in this way emphasize something essential about reading. It is always experiential, a link in a chain, cohering in a moment and dissipating over time. In creating one path through each text, Gronsdahl’s compositions also imply the myriad other paths that could be taken, in a way that “unmediated” texts rarely invite such conjecture. In paring down, they formalise one of an infinite series of possible un-writings/re-readings.


  1. hardly

Gronsdahl’s approach to art history aligns with his material investigations; both convey a deep curiosity about knowledge, understanding and the ways that we parse meaning from what seems insignificant. Even as these subjects (aesthetics, our place in the universe) are complex and often overwhelming, Gronsdahl broaches them with levity. There is a certain lightness to his work; lightness of touch (the artist’s hands very involved but not in evidence), lightness in material (reduced, responsive), lightness from means to end (spare parameters). This airiness leaves room for soft focus and speculation—even inviting doubt—but it doesn’t equate to effortlessness. There is striving in the repetition and restraint, along with recognition that some things can’t be rushed or overly determined. Reflecting back to the viewer, there is an invitation to take time and care, and a caution—not overlook or over think, less something essential be missed.

– Rose Bouthillier


[1] The title invokes John Berger’s iconic television show and book Ways of Seeing (1972), which explored how people derive meaning from art and images, guided by context, technology and culture. There is a contrast between Berger’s forceful, structured arguments and the quiet reiteration of Gronsdahl’s vessels.

[2] So far other source texts include “Death of the Author” (1967) by Roland Barthes, “Grids” (1979) by Rosalind Krauss, “What Is a Minor Literature?” (1975) by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, and “The Poetics of the Open Work” (1962) by Umberto Eco.

[3] Email to the author, August 15, 2018.

Six poems about love whispered to the night sky

Performance from the series, Six Poems About Love Whispered to the Night Sky. Images from top:

Le front aux vitres by Paul Eluard (1929) Recited on April 28, 2016 at the childhood home of American writer, Wallace Stegner in Eastend, Saskatchewan.

My Life Summed Up In Three Photographs (Thus Far) by Gregory Scofield (2005) Recited on October 2, 2016 near the Queen Elizabeth Power Plant, Saskatoon.

The Visit by Robert Creeley (1981)Recited on June 17, 2016 at the original summer cabin of English landscape painter and educator, Augustus Kenderdine at Emma Lake, Saskatchewan.

The same as the shape of an object, Exhibition

AKA artist run centre
Members’ Project
Exhibition & Performative Reading
September 1, 2016

Troy Gronsdahl, The same as the shape of an object, Exhibition documentation Troy Gronsdahl, The same as the shape of an object, Exhibition documentationTroy Gronsdahl, The same as the shape of an object, Exhibition documentation

List of Works

The moment when the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticed. Solstice, June 20, 2016, 4:34 PM local time, 2016

Untitled podium, 2016
marine grade fir plywood

Peony root, 2014
bronze, ink

The same as the shape of an object [Specific Objects], 2016
hand-boun­d book, 28 pages, offset and digital print

This project was supported by the Saskatchewan Arts Board. I am grateful for their support.

The same as the shape of an object

Troy Gronsdahl, The same as the shape of an object Troy Gronsdahl, The same as the shape of an object Troy Gronsdahl, The same as the shape of an objectTroy Gronsdahl, The same as the shape of an object Troy Gronsdahl, The same as the shape of an object Troy Gronsdahl, The same as the shape of an object

The same as the shape of an object [Specific Objects], 2016
hand-bound book, 28 pages, offset and digital print

The text in this book is derived from Donald Judd’s essay, “Specific Objects,” first published in 1965. Each paragraph of the original essay has been transposed to a single page and unused sections of text removed to reveal a composition of words and phrases. This work fits within a larger series of remediated text works I’ve produced from historically-significant texts about art. This book has been created with the support of the Saskatchewan Arts Board. I am grateful for their support.

When the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticed

Troy Gronsdahl, The moment when the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticed Equinox, total solar eclipse & perigee moon, March 20, 2015, 4:45 p.m. local timeTroy Gronsdahl - The moment when the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticed Equinox, total solar eclipse & perigee moon, March 20, 2015, 4:45 p.m. local time Solstice, June 21, 2015, 10:38 a.m. local time

When the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticed.
Equinox, total solar eclipse & perigee moon, March 20, 2015, 4:45 p.m. local time
Solstice, June 21, 2015, 10:38 a.m. local time

Troy Gronsdahl, The moment when the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticedTroy Gronsdahl, The moment when the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticedTroy Gronsdahl, The moment when the cosmos aligned, if only briefly and largely unnoticed

In an ongoing series of cyanotypes, I draw on the historical associations of monochrome painting while playing in its ambiguous zones of interpretive possibility. By exposing paper treated with a cyanotype solution to natural light, these photographic prints are a record of an cosmological event, yet the claim made by the title cannot be verified by the contents of its image.

Ways of Looking

Troy Gronsdahl, Ways of Looking
Black and white photographs, 2.5 x 3.5 inches

An ongoing series of self-portrait photographs conceived around notions of travel, disorientation, and the search for meaning. The photos are taken in a variety of locations, including architectural landmarks, tourist destinations and cultural spaces. By giving equal treatment to historical sites and more generic tourist destination, I aim to expose gaps in understanding across historical and cultural contexts. The title refers to John Berger’s book, Ways of Seeing.

the fact that they are not / insisted / reveal something [Art and Objecthood]

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Troy Gronsdahl, the fact that they are not / insisted / reveal something [Art and Objecthood]

42 letterpress sheets, cloth-bound hardcover case with metallic foil print


As part of an ongoing series of text-based works, I have transformed historically significant texts about art through a process of remediation to create new forms. Stripping the source material of its semantic integrity, my texts are deliberately ambiguous, contradictory, and indeterminate. I aim to challenge the primacy of the text while pointing to the contingency of knowledge through artistic play.

Using a subjective method based on free association and the rhythm of language, I select phrases and words from the source material to create new forms. The unused sections of text are removed to reveal a composition of words and phrases distributed on the page. I strictly adhere to the original word order and do not make further amendments to the the organization of the words. The spaces between are as important as the words themselves; what is removed thus activates the composition and creates a critical resonance integral to the work.

In its present shape it is not the only possible world

Troy Gronsdahl, In its present shape it is not the only possible world, 2014

“’In its present shape it is not the only possible world.’” (Critical black)
Stone lithograph on paper, 2014
Variable edition

Text and title from Paul Klee, On Modern Art, a lecture delivered in 1924, first published in 1945 and compiled in Modern Artists On Art: Ten Unabridged Essays edited by Robert L. Herbert 1964.

True, Not True

True Not_True

True and Not True are a pair of laser etched prints that take playful liberty with the notion of artistic truth. Based on the colloquial definition of “true” as absolute perpendicular or vertical as may be measured by a plumb, I prepared two paper works that are, in a matter of speaking, true and not true. Using graphics software, I prepared a version of “true” – a perfectly perpendicular line etched on paper with laser accuracy. I also prepared a version that is “not true” by rotating the line half a degree out of perpendicular.

AKA Gallery, Artist Feature

Chances are you know Troy Gronsdahl in one of his various incarnations. You may have seen him perform under his moniker soso, an internationally touring rap artist who has graced the stages of Saskatoon’s Mosofest, Les Transmusicale de Rennes, France, as well as multiple venues in Europe and Japan. Perhaps you’ve browsed the websites of various art organizations, this gallery included, not knowing he set up the interface, or, as in the case of PAVED Arts, designed their branding. In all likelihood you’ve visited the Mendel Art Gallery where he serves as Associate Curator and whose programming has included The Name of Things, which featured work by local artists Zachari Logan, Terry Billings and Stacia Verigin. Most pertinent to this article, however, is his internationally exhibited art practice, which spans multiple mediums and synthesizes his various other cultural contributions. If multidisciplinarity is the de facto obligation of the contemporary artist, and I think that is becoming more and more the case, then Gronsdahl has certainly lived up to it by seamlessly moving from one practice to another while maintaining an impressive level of quality and criticality in each undertaking.

His recent solo show at the Frances Morrison Library (Saskatoon) More of the Same, and now part of a group exhibition at the Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina, utilizes his self-described “museological fetish,” as a strategy to unpack two romantic proclamations found in the revolutionary manifesto titled Le Refus Global: “Make way for magic! Make way for objective mystery!” Written in 1948 by Quebecois painter Paul-Émile Borduas and signed by fellow members of the Automatistes group, the manifesto was a challenge to the traditional values of Quebec and a call to incorporate international thought into an otherwise provincial discourse. Gronsdahl’s lifting of two seemingly innocuous phrases, however, pays little heed to the manifesto’s original revolutionary fervour, and favours an absurdly earnest approach to fulfilling its more whimsical imperatives. To this end, Gronsdahl created a series of letterpress prints embossing the barely perceptible words “magic” and “mystery” onto manila sheets. He also melted the letters used in the process to produce seductively mercurial shapes that were presented under vitrines.

The show’s presentation gives it an analytic appearance that is undermined by its decidedly lyrical content. Elegantly framed, impeccably presented, the subtle works only ever present traces of the magic and mystery that is so carefully catalogued, and put on display. What is highlighted instead is the apparatus by which these traces are archived. Gronsdahl admits there is an irony to the museum’s archival role, which is to preserve and present important documents for future generations, and consequently undermining the urgency of the original artefact, which in the case of Le Refus Global is a call to resistance. He notes, citing examples from his experience as a curator, that the institution has a remarkable talent for “owning dissent.” Yet the tongue-in-cheek mode of presentation utilized by Gronsdahl in More of the Same also highlights how elusive that ownership may be. While we may own a set of objects, the ideas they were intended to embody may perpetually evade us and be exceedingly difficult to actualize.

But ambivalence about art’s political efficacy is not what is at stake here. There seems to be a cross-disciplinary concern with the creation of context and meaning that unites Gronsdahl’s various practices. In his studio, his works in progress continue to explore the layered meaning of the word through typeface, text, erasure, and its visual representation. His current use of literary metaphors seems to hint at a convergence between his role as a lyricist and as a visual artist. Moving through the various incarnations of the word, from spoken, to written, to spatial (as in the case of the melted “magic” and “mystery”), Gronsdahl alludes to the ways in which meaning is created but simultaneously eludes us. His incursion into mystery, metaphor and ultimately the unknown, is also an incursion into the space between the signifier and signified (or lack thereof), where meaning gets lost, remade and recycled.

-Dagmara Genda


On Surrender as an Act of Infiltration

On Surrender as an Act of Infiltration
Troy Gronsdahl’s The Knot
by Lee Henderson

Troy Gronsdahl’s short video The Knot opens in the middle of a forested landscape; a young tree trunk appears in focus among older trunks, small saplings, the stumps of fallen trees, and clusters of leaves, all blurry. The sharp trunk is slightly off centre, leaning towards the edge of the frame, and two or three soft fingers of bright green leaf peek in from the top.

We, as observers, are given time to absorb all of this, as the uninhabited vista lasts for 16 seconds of the 70-second work. Eventually, a blurry figure emerges from the background, navigating the undulating terrain on foot. In jeans, plaid shirt and glasses, the artist approaches the trunk—and us—and continues just off-camera, from whence he ties a clean white cloth around what we now realize to be a branch, perhaps an inch or so in diameter. A knot is formed by the artist’s hands, and they disappear, leaving us with the scene in which we started, save for the addition of the small, white banner.

An art historical context of imaging the Canadian landscape springs readily to mind, and one could easily be tempted to think of Gronsdahl’s gesture as Thompsonesque: the artist is a lone wanderer who emerges from and disappears back into the forest, leaving only art-tokens behind, or so goes the mythology. But the quietude of the artist’s performance—and, indeed, his overall avoidance of the camera’s lens—implies both purpose and resignation. This figure is no ecological flâneur, no enviro-tourist; he is on a mission.

That mission is one of surrender. Gronsdahl marks the young branch with a white flag, and retreats. The solitude of the location and the lingering absence of other bodies suggest that, perhaps, his surrender is to us, an anonymous citizenry—the body of the observer occupies this territory only virtually, by means of the apparatus of the camera. Gronsdahl’s camera, in this case, becomes a paradoxical witness… paradoxical because the camera is always placed, and captures nothing by accident. But if the camera is the ultimate, universal, secular confessor to whom the artist submits—a stand-in for any and all potential viewers of its public record—then the artist operates from a position of abstract guilt, or culpability, or complicity. The white flag of surrender is placed before us, but not for us.

What, then, are the stakes of this surrender? They must be high, for no protest is made, no ceremony nor complaint issued (silence is, after all, reserved for the most profound of sentiments). The work’s title, and indeed the knot itself, suggest an ambivalent binding—neither tight nor loose, the band is formed efficiently but gently around the tree, and the branch bows in submission to the hands’ ministrations. It continues to sway, tentatively, after the hands have left the picture entirely and it has been left alone with the camera, bowing in a subtle response to its context and its use as collaborative performer. The white handkerchief, for its part, is a personal object made semi-public, or at least unleashed into the landscape, and the tying of a marker on a branch is a way of sectioning and owning a part of that landscape.

We should not be lulled too easily, however, into thinking of this work as an expression of abject shame; it is far more ambivalent than that. Invoking Canadian landscape as he does, and given his position as a white, male, Canadian artist, Gronsdahl is, perhaps, surrendering to Canada, as construct or context or concept, without apologizing for it. His hoser-hip costuming suggests middle-class North American privilege, while he engages in a nearly anonymous declaration of reclamation and relegation—a thankless and, dare I say, almost pointless action that refers to larger political narratives of race, belonging, and Grand National Identity (if only with tongue firmly in cheek). The ambivalent elegance of Gronsdahl’s gesture is that it is as much a literal marking of territory as it is a signifier of surrender; the swatch with which he binds the tree is itself the indication of his giving it up.

Becoming Book, 2013

Becoming Book - Dunlop Art Gallery. Jan 19 - March 17, 2013


Becoming Book - Dunlop Art Gallery. Jan 19 - March 17, 2013Becoming Book - Dunlop Art Gallery. Jan 19 - March 17, 2013

Troy Gronsdahl, Lee Henderson and Éve K. Tremblay
Organized by the Dunlop Art Gallery
November 3, 2012 to January 10, 2013
Curated by Blair Fornwald

Dunlop Art Gallery, RPL Sherwood Village Branch, 6121 Rochdale Boulevard
Opening Reception and Artist Talk: Saturday, January 19 at 1:00 pm

Held in conjunction with Freedom to Read Week (February 24 to March 2) Becoming Book investigates the relationship between readers, writers, publishers, and censors as embodied through the physicality of the book. Each artist in Becoming Book engages in an active dialogue with the printed word, assuming a role more “writerly” than “readerly.” The artists’ subjective readings of classic literary and political texts in turn create new “texts” that assume various forms. The artists draw upon the contents of the published text, its interpreted meaning as applied by the reader, and social and political circumstances surrounding its writing, publication, dissemination, and effect on a social body of readers.

The exhibition features the work of three artists: Troy Gronsdahl from Saskatoon, Lee Henderson from Toronto, and Éve K. Tremblay, who is based between Berlin, New York, and Montreal. Troy Gronsdahl’s Make Way for Magic! Make Way for Objective Mysteries! cites Refuse Global, Les Automatistes’ anti-establishment and anti-religious manifesto. The emphatic call to political action present in this text is absent in Gronsdahl’s eloquently simple, if not melancholic gesture: the words “magic” and “objective mysteries” have been lifted from the manifesto and embossed and debossed on stacks of white paper. Gronsdahl then melted the metal letterpress type, forming a “magic” blob and a blob of “objective mysteries,” as if these properties are inherent in the words themselves. Lee Henderson’s Refinement Pavilion series is comprised of books that were published posthumously, against the author’s wishes. The artist has acquired rare and valuable first editions of classic literary texts, including Vladimir Nabakov’s Laura and Franz Kafka’s The Trial. Refusing to read them, Henderson has had the books cremated, sealing their ashes in urns, in a poetics attempt to fulfill the deceased’s wishes. Finally, Éve K. Tremblay presents excerpts from an ongoing project titled Becoming Fahrenheit 451, where she has been attempting to memorize Ray Bradbury’s famous anti-censorship text in its entirety, thereby becoming one of his fictitious “book people.”

More of the Same (Installation)

Rooted in a conceptual art tradition, More of the same is a text-based project developed in response to the manifesto Refus Global. Written by French-Canadian artist, Paul-Émile Borduas and published in 1948, Refus Global called for a rejection of stifling conservative values and is considered a contributing factor for the Quiet Revolution. A number of Québécois intellectuals and artists signed the manifesto including members of the abstract painting movement, Les Automatistes. The manuscript has since become part of the Canadian art canon.

The manifesto is intriguing. The document is earnest; from an admittedly privileged contemporary perspective, it now seems almost quaint. Yet the author’s courage and sincerity is admirable. Reading the English language translation, the complications of translation across languages and spans of time are striking:

“Make way for magic! Make way for objective mysteries!”

Taking Borduas’ urgent appeal at face value, I created a suite of letterpress prints to fulfill the challenge issued by the manifesto. The exhibition includes a series of paper works, objects and ephemera related to the letterpress printing process. With a dry wit, More of the same considers ideas closely related to art and the creative process. The viewer is invited to reconcile expectation and promise with the quizzical artworks. Make way for magic! Make way for objective mysteries!

The Gallery At Frances Morrison Library
November 22 – December 27, 2012
Saskatoon, SK


Back and Gone, Blackflash Magazine

Troy Gronsdahl’s installation “back and gone” is, as David LaRiviere describes in his essay on the work, a pursuit of the sense of vulnerability. It is true that the work continues Gronsdahl’s exploration and exposure of human frailty and vulnerability, with himself and his family and friends as the common subject of the exploration. Both as a visual artist and rap artist Soso, Gronsdahl pushes the audiences’ limits of comfort in their exposure to human imperfections, vulnerability and loss. In the work “back and gone” Gronsdahl takes this exploration to a new level by putting the viewer into a controlled environment that has the potential to elicit comfort or distress.

Continue reading “Back and Gone, Blackflash Magazine”

Back and Gone (essay)

For some time now Troy Gronsdahl has pursued a sense of vulnerability in his artistic practice, the kind of visceral reckoning that establishes eye contact, and one in which the interlocutor is forced to acknowledge and deal with the compromised state of his subject. the generosity of mechanics (is not well documented), for example, is a short video work from 2008 in which we encounter a man standing quietly before the camera exhibiting forbearance in the face of persistent tremors endemic to Parkinson’s disease. The key word here may well be “encounter”, which generally connotes an unexpected meeting, one that may even entail a confrontation of sorts. The particular character of Gronsdahl’s preferred encounter is important because it is not constituted out of a confrontation with the subject so much as it is an internal confrontation with our own attitudes and insecurities. As we find this man standing before us, with no soundtrack to offer narrative refuge, we must deal with the humanity of the situation in a manner that transfers and thereby implicates our own, human condition. This dynamic resonates in Gronsdahl’s earlier work as well, such as the 2003 video installation We always thought that she would be the first to go, and, in every measure as intimate and direct, the artist’s 2005 hip hop video project under the MC alias soso, entitled hungover for three days straight (don’t matter). These formative projects variously draw the spectator into an unarmed proximity that clearly raises the stakes of our dealings. Hence the vulnerability that is engendered is our own, drafted from a chance encounter with a subject that propels us into unexpected yet deeply reflective territory.

Continue reading “Back and Gone (essay)”

Mind the Gap

Celebrating, with resounding exuberance, the wealth of talent amongst the diverse population of emerging artists in Saskatchewan, Mind the Gap! displays contemporary visual art by 30 artists. Comprehensive and ambitious in scope, the exhibition offers insight into the trends, innovations, energy and interests evident in the artwork of our contemporary artists who have mapped our province geographically, cerebrally and artistically.

Continue reading “Mind the Gap”