Prefix ICA » Michael Snow Newfoundlandings


May 5 to July 22, 2017

Michael Snow

Curated by Scott McLeod

Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art is thrilled to present Newfoundlandings,
a solo exhibition by Michael Snow, one of Canada’s most revered artists. Featuring four video installations, including the Toronto premiere of In the Way, the show is curated by Scott McLeod and presented as a primary exhibition of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival.

As the title of the exhibition suggests, each of the presented works was produced on the west coast of Newfoundland, where the artist and his partner spend their summers among its cliffs, fields and coves. Unified by the omnipresence of the wind, the works also illustrate a number of Snow’s enduring preoccupations — sound, duration, and wordplay, as well as the nature of the frame, the camera, and the photographic act itself.

In Solar Breath (Northern Caryatids) (2002), a static camera frames an open window before which a hand-made curtain billows and puckers with the rise and fall of the wind. At times, the fabric surges inward just enough to reveal the exterior landscape that lies beyond the casement window. This sensuous and eloquent image is accompanied by the sound of the curtain’s rhythmic “thwapping,” and in the background, the intermittent sounds of domestic activity percolate. Condensation (A Cove Story) (2009) offers a view of a cove surrounded by steep cliffs, wooded hills and field grasses. By means of time-lapse photography, the static camera records and temporally compresses shifting weather patterns and their concomitant effects on the landscape’s visibility and colours. Projected on the floor, In the Way (2011) captures a rocky, muddy road that gradually gives way to wild grasses and flowers. The work not only presents images of the earth produced by a camera moving in various directions at varying speeds, but invites the viewer to inhabit the image itself — to be, literally, “in the way.” In Sheeploop (2000), a small flock of sheep, grazing in a field that overlooks the sea, wander into a static frame and, circling back, out of it. Here, both content and structure form a “loop.”
About the artist

About the Artist

Michael Snow, born in 1928 in Toronto, is one of Canada’s most iconic contemporary artists. Although perhaps best known as a film, video and photographic artist — particularly for Wavelength (1967) and La Région Centrale (1971) — he is accomplished in diverse media, including music (performance and composition), painting, drawing and sculpture. Always inquiring, always exploring new forms, he has also produced a number of book works, sound installations and holographic exhibits. Retrospectives of his work have been exhibited at the Hara Museum (Tokyo), Centres Georges-Pompidou (Paris), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the L’Institut Lumière (Lyons) and the Palais des Beaux Arts (Brussels), to name but a few. The recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Chevalier de l’Ordre des arts et des letters, France, the Order of Canada, the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, he has also received an honorary doctorate from the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne in addition to several honorary degrees from a number of Canadian universities. His work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Museum Ludwig (Cologne and Vienna), the Centre Georges-Pompidou (Paris) and the Tate (London), among others. Snow lives and works in Toronto.

About the Curator

Scott McLeod is a writer, curator and arts administrator. The founding director of Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, he focuses on contemporary practices, with a specialization in photographic, media and digital art. His upcoming projects include solo exhibitions of the work of Lara Almarcegui and Shona Illingworth.


For their support of Newfoundlandings, Prefix gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.