Designed by Los Angeles architect, Randall Stout, the new Art Gallery of Alberta opened its doors to the public today. Formerly known as the Edmonton Art Gallery, the revamped AGA doesn’t fall behind the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Royal Ontario Museum. If anything, its bold look and impressive roster of exhibitions (both current and upcoming) pushes it to the forefront of the Canadian art scene.
Even more inspirational, however, is the fact that approximately 10,000 tickets were given away for the two day (today and tomorrow) opening celebration. The tickets disappeared within a few hours leaving no doubt of the public’s interest and curiosity.
Occupying the entire third floor will be North American premier of internationally-renowned Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s installation The Murder of Crows. Exhibited in Sydney, Berlin and Brazil, the work is inspired by Goya’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. The title is derived from an English expression used to denote what the AGA press release describes as a “crow funeral” – when a crow dies, there is a ‘mourning’ ritual which consists of other crows gathering around the corpse and cawing. As if to mimic this ritual, the chairs are set up in a semi circle.
The installation is an audio journey (the narration is provided by the voice of Cardiff) of fear and terror within the context of our modern society. Using over 100 speakers, Cardiff’s voice is accompanied by various sounds including compositions by Freida Abtan, Tilman Ritter and Titus Maderlechner. The entire piece is 30 minutes long and criss-crosses between war marches and lullabies (lullabies both begin and end the piece).
A second Cardiff and Miller work entitled Storm Room is also being exhibited. Created specifically for the opening of the gallery, the installation is a continuation of the exploration of sound and emotion. Both exhibitions run until May 9, 2010.