Visiting Artists Exhibition: Bill Burns & Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay
Each year Open Studio selects four professional artists with or without printmaking experience to create traditional and/or experimental works in the print medium of their choice, working collaboratively with a print media artist. These exhibitions by Toronto-based artist Bill Burns and Montréal/Berlin-based artist Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay are the result of this intensive work period, and the first of two 2010 Visiting Artists’ Exhibitions.
Bill Burns’ work about animals and civil society has been shown and published widely, including solo projects in Canada, the US, Europe and Asia; he has also published numerous books. In 2009 he received the Danish International Visiting Artist Award from the Danish Arts Agency. During his residency at Open Studio, Burns worked with the technical collaboration of artists Nadine Bariteau (screenprinting) and Jill Graham (lithography) to produce a series of prints for an as-yet-to-be-published book. The prints, in the style of Russian Constructivist artists Liubov Popova and Aleksandr Rodchenko, are inspired by Sergei Eisenstein’s classic film Ivan the Terrible, Part One, with photo-based images of dogs, boats and airplanes replacing the key players. The dogs reveal an unusually complex place in relation to people and property, tied to class, nation, race and advanced industrialism. The boats and airplanes are on one hand an absurdity, and on the other, a cipher of modernity, global travel and capital. A text by Gentiane Bélanger accompanies the exhibition.
Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay’s recent work examines the singing voice and the history of song, the rendering of love and emotion into words, and the impact of popular culture on identity. His work has been exhibited in festivals and galleries across Canada, Europe and East Asia and has won prizes at film and media art festivals in Canada, Germany, Poland and Portugal. His work is part of numerous private collections and the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. During his residency at Open Studio, Nemerofsky Ramsay worked with the technical collaboration of artist Nadine Bariteau to produce a screenprinted, concertina bookwork (edition of ten) intended to accompany Nemerofsky Ramsay’s The Burden, a sound piece made up almost entirely of layered and processed vocals, performed by Nemerofsky Ramsay himself. Not a traditionally transcribed score, the bookwork records the vocal line of the sound piece through shifting, shimmering colours and precise, yet widely interpretable instructions to the singer: a sustained, unbroken note that ranges across various vowels, but begins and ends on the letter I. The subtly shifting colours represent the vocal shifts without naming them directly, allowing the audience and future singers to make their own interpretations of the moods and emotions that the piece elicits. A text by Alisha Piercy accompanies the exhibition.