Resisting the stasis of history, the title Spin Off suggests the circle of the mandala in vigorous motion, even conjuring a wheel whirling off of its axis. The term spinoff has been popularized through television – a new program containing some characters or themes from a previously successful show in different settings. Indeed, locating an age-old motif in re-imagined contexts, the art in this exhibition is dynamic like a spinning circle, asserting the mutability of tradition, the migratory patterns of religion, and the universal search for meaning. These works prod at the structures of spirituality, create new portals for meditative contemplation, and bring us full circle to the sanctity of the everyday. Regardless of cultural affiliations or geographic location, we may borrow freely from religion, media and science to generate our own spinoffs.
1 See, for example, mandala-inspired visual art by Bill Armstrong (New York), Milan Fano Blatny (Bmo, Czech Republic), Dawn DeDeaux (New Orleans), Karl Holmqvist (Vasteras, Sweden/Berlin), Kimsooja (New York/Seoul), Alexandra Mir (Lublin, Poland/London), and Chrysanne Stathacos (New York). Books include The Solid Mandala (1966) by Patrick White and Mandala Symbolism (1972) by Carl G. Jung. In music, the song The Great Mandala (The Wheel of Life), written by Peter Yarrow, was recorded in 1967 on Peter, Paul and Mary’s Album 1700. Additionally, in the late 60s, the Toronto-based band Mandala performed their unique soul-jazz fusion across North America.
2 The JAMS were Shiff’s response to an invitation to create new work based on the Judaica collection of the Jewish Museum in New York for Off the Wall: Artists at Work.
Aya Ben Ron (Tel Aviv, IL) is a multi-disciplinary artist working in sculpture, video, drawing, and installation with an MFA from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her work has been included in numerous international art exhibitions including the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; MOCA Shanghai; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Hamburger Bahnhof Museum, Berlin; Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Israel; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; 2006 Biennial São Paolo, Brazil; and the Wellcome Trust, London, where she was artist-in-residence in 2001.
Mircea Cantor (Romania/France) employs a wide spectrum of different media, ranging from simple materials and old craft techniques to drawings made in candle soot, lipstick or fingerprints on the wall. His work has been exhibited internationally including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Kunsthaus Zurich; the Camden Arts Centre, London; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Yvon Lambert, Paris and New York; Magazzino díArte Moderna, Rome; and Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv. Cantor was awarded the 2011 Marcel Duchamp Prize, Paris.
Vandana Jain (Brooklyn, NY) has shown at a variety of venues locally and internationally, including MoMA PS1, New York; ABC No Rio, New York; Momenta Art, New York; the Soap Factory, Minneapolis; Grey Noise, Lahore; and With Space, Beijing. Her awards include the Bronx Museumís AIM program (2003), the Emerging Artistís Fellowship at Socrates Sculpture Park (2007), the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Residency (2008ñ9), and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant (2010).
Gary James Joynes/Clinker (Edmonton, AB) is a sound artist, composer and visual artist who has presented his experimental audio-visual work at Galerie8, London and Latitude 53 Contemporary Visual Culture, Edmonton, following a residency at the Banff Centre. His work has been performed and exhibited in Canada and abroad including Electric Fields, Ottawa; Mountain Computer Music Festival, Montana; Roulette Mixology Festival, New York; Mutek, Montreal; Leonard Cohen International Festival, Edmonton; Soundfjord re/flux Sublimated Landscape / Sonic Topology @ ICA London; Tanzstartklar Festival, Graz; SprawlóInterplay 4: Collaborations in 4 Cities, Amsterdam, Dublin, London, Bristol; and Standart, Madrid.
Melissa Shiff (Toronto, ON) is a video, performance and installation artist whose work is engaged with Jewish cultural memory and the relationship between religious ritual and performance art. Her acclaimed outdoor video sculpture, ARK (2006), was the keynote project for the Jewish Museum in Pragueís centennial celebration. Shiffís work has been featured in exhibitions, festivals and public events around the world including the Jewish Museum, New York; Beit Hatfutsot, Tel Aviv; and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. Shiff is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at the University of Toronto and studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Evelyn Tauben (Montreal, QC/Toronto, ON) was Head of Programs and Exhibitions at the Koffler Centre of the Arts from 2008-12. With an MA in Art History from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, Philadelphia, she has worked on exhibition development, education and fundraising at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Museum of American History.
Jennifer Zackin (Brooklyn, NY) creates sculptures, videos and site-specific installations that have been widely exhibited in major museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Connecticut; Spertus Museum, Chicago; the Rose Art Museum, Massachusetts; the Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; The Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, H¯vikodden, Norway; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and the Zacheta National Art Gallery, Warsaw. Site-specific commissions include a project on Governors Island, New York City; Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, and the Berkshire Botanical Gardens, Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Design: Tony Hewer | Editing: Shannon Anderson
Digital publication to the exhibition Spin Off: Contemporary Art Circling the Mandala
Presented by the Koffler Gallery Off-Site at 80 Spadina Ave., Suite 501, Toronto | September 22 to December 4, 2011
Guest Curator: Evelyn Tauben
© Koffler Centre of the Arts, 2011, in collaboration with the individual contributors. All rights reserved.