Contemporary one-woman show at the AGO

The current AGO exhibit of Liz Magor (pronounced may-gore) makes me think about how much the meaning of the word “sculpture” has changed.


At the top of the photo illustration you see white cardboard retail boxes, tissue-lined and carefully packed with textile sculptures, each one unique. Cutouts of pointing hands (or actual gloves) draw our attention to details … often labels. There are about 5 dozen boxes, presumably arranged and lit with the artist’s assistance. Viewing is a bit like window shopping … you look with no intention of buying, but your attention is engaged by patterns, materials and ideas.

The show is very “thinky”, not particularly “feely”. Consider the arrangements of packing boxes and furnishings in One Bedroom Apartment(bottom of the upper picture). It’s a fairly deadpan presentation compared with an installation like, say, Keinholz’s Barney’s Beanery from the 1960s. (next photo)


Magor’s One Bedroom makes Keinholz look like a hopeless romantic. Her view is dry. We view from the perimeters. “Looks like our basement,” I said to Danica.

Visual beauty is not present in Magor’s work. It doesn’t seem to be a consideration. Keinholz said he was unable to make beautiful things, so he did what he could and made ugly things. Magor seems to point to things and stays neutral.

Magor received this one-artist show and $50,000 by winning the 2014 Gershon Iskowitz Prize. That may sound like a lot of cash, but the show represents decades of activity.

Liz Magor is a Vancouver-based artist, born in Winnipeg in 1948. The show’s title seems to derive from one of the textile pieces bearing the word “Surrender”. A pointing glove indicates a $525.00 price tag, with a $115.00 red tag beneath it.

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