January 12 to February 19, 2006
Curator: Carolyn Bell Farrell
Opening reception: Thursday, January 12, 7– 9 pm; Artist talk: 7 pm Free
Guided Bus Tour: Sunday, February 5, 12 to 5:30 pm
The Clementine Suite by Barbara Astman continues the artist’s explorations around the nature of memory and the photographic image. This series of installations on view in the Koffler Gallery was inspired by a photograph from a 2001 issue of The National Post depicting a group of twenty Jewish orphans on their way from Europe to Canada in September 1947. Smiling, these young men and women appear happy and in good health—their joyful expressions a marked contradiction to the true stories of government quotas and war horrors. The faces of these orphans eventually become the focus of the artist’s memorial-based body of work, The Clementine Suite.
In the first three parts of this series on exhibit, Astman customizes ready-made lighting systems (festive lights, flashlights and lanterns) to project anonymous portraits taken from this photograph, as well as other 1930s and ‘40s photographs from private and public sources such as the Ontario Jewish Archives. Strands of festive lights span the fifty-foot territory of the gallery wall in Clementine, Part I. A single locket-sized portrait scanned onto acetate is affixed to each light socket. The illuminated figures are without names or dates; they abide as anonymous, ghostly images referring to a history and a life once lived. The second gallery space hosts a series of eighteen lanterns from Clementine, Part II. Each is comprised of a revolving black disco light. On the surface, small photographic portraits are set in circular areas of coloured plastic, and illuminated through the frosted mylar shades.
For Part III, Astman has modified toy battery-operated flashlights, attaching a single portrait in acetate to each end. Hand-held by the mobile visitor, the flashlight beam projects an ever-shifting image on the floors and walls of the darkened gallery space. In the absence of specific knowledge of these individuals, the artist evokes a visual narrative that summons a collective yet partial memory of this history. While alluding to a profound sense of loss, these works also operate as a testament to survival, and a celebration of the human spirit.
Barbara Astman holds an Associates Degree from The Rochester Institute of Technology, School of American Craftsmen and an AOCA from the Ontario College of Art. A senior Toronto artist, she has exhibited in Canada and internationally since the early 1970s, and has also completed several public art projects, including a floor installation for the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1987 and a series of photomurals for the Baycrest Centre for Geriatrics Care in Toronto. Her work is represented in numerous public collections in Canada, the United States and Europe. Astman is a professor at the Ontario College of Art & Design, where she has taught since 1975. She is represented by the Corkin Shopland Gallery, Toronto.
Opening Reception: Reception for The Clementine Suite will be held Thursday, January 12 from 7 to 9 pm. A gallery tour and talk by Astman is scheduled for 7 pm.
Free Guided Bus Tour: On Sunday, February 5, there will be a free, guided bus tour from downtown to the York University Art Gallery, the Koffler Gallery, the Doris McCarthy Gallery and the Blackwood Gallery. The bus departs at 12 pm from 100 McCaul Street. Return time is approximately 5:30 pm. To reserve a seat, please call the Koffler Gallery at (416) 636 1880 ext.270.
Group Tours and Workshops: Gallery talks and tours are free. Group tours and workshops are also available, both in English and French. For information, please call Mona Filip, Education Coordinator, at (416) 636-1880 ext. 270.
Gallery Location: The Koffler Gallery is part of the Koffler Centre of the Arts, located at the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre, 4588 Bathurst Street, three stoplights (two TTC stops) north of Sheppard Ave. The gallery is accessible by TTC via the Bathurst 7 bus north from the Bloor/Bathurst subway station, or the 160 Bathurst North bus from Wilson subway station. Buses stop at the BJCC.
Gallery Hours: The gallery is open Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 4 pm, Sunday noon to 4 pm and Monday by appointment. Closed Saturday, statutory holidays and Jewish holidays. Admission is free.
Contact Information: Please call our information line (416) 636-1880 ext. 268 or visit our web page at www.bjcc.ca and www.kofflercentre.com for information on gallery programs. E-mail inquiries can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org. Digital images for press purposes are available on request.
Acknowledgements: The Koffler Gallery gratefully acknowledges the support of its Patrons and Members, BMO Harris Private Banking, the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.