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26 September – 27 October 1996

Narelle Jubelin's exhibitions at the Art Gallery of York University and the Art Gallery of Ontario draw upon her interest in the ideological and architectural significance of Mies van der Rohe's German pavilion, built for the 1929 World Exposition in Barcelona, in relation to 20th-century internationalism, the presence of Mies's Toronto-Dominion Bank Centre in Toronto, and her coincidental encounter at the Art Gallery of Ontario with German artist Gunter Förg's photographs of Mies' reconstructed Barcelona pavilion. The site-specific installation at York comprises three suspended silk cloths, texts by architecture theorist José Quetglas on the Barcelona Pavilion, wall paintings and other elements to convey a sense of narrative construction and movement analogous to the movement through space articulated by the spatial and material dynamics of Mies' Barcelona Pavilion. By looking at the modernist heritage of internationalism through the revelation of unwritten narratives, of serendipitous connections and the inevitable presence of biographical detail, Jubelin's implicit critique opens upon such timely issues as late 20th-century neo-nationalism, post-coloniality and the globalization of culture.

Jubelin's projects are realized through an extended and peripatetic research process in which she culls disparate found and made objects, rich with their own histories and materials, and re-presents them as emblems of their travels and existence in time. Working slowly and cumulatively, both by necessity and preference, Jubelin links events or narratives at the same time making specific reference to the historical, cultural and geographic heritage of the places for which her projects are created. Jubelin's attention to methods of display and her implicit critique of the arbitrariness of exhibition conventions and values constitutes a timely awareness of the contexts within which the concerns of her own work are interpreted. Of all the places she has exhibited, Canada is notable, given the shared colonial histories of Canada and her native Australia. Her practice, like that of Canadian artists, has evolved in a culture whose links to 20th-century Western art traditions are direct but whose international position has been historically peripheral. In this regard, Jubelin's initial interest in tracing the cultural imprint of migration and trade, the colonization of aboriginal peoples, and women's forgotten role in settlement-themes that have relevance here as in Australia-has recently led to works that weave narratives of displacement into a complex, sequential reflection on modernist aesthetics and the "international style" in which both the contributions of women and the influence of colonial relations are a silent subtext.

In 1990, Australian artist Narelle Jubelin exhibited a small installation entitled Trade Delivers People in the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale. This installation combined her highly detailed needlepoint works with Ivory Coast masks, Australian coins, Venetian lace, and a New Guinea bride price armlette to address the notion of cultural exchange, and the transformation of local cultures and objects as they become globally disseminated. Since this presentation in the Venice exposition, Jubelin's work has received international attention. In 1992 she produced a project for the Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow, and participated in the Charleston Places with a Past exhibition of site-specific works, alongside Canadian artists Liz Magor and Barbara Steinman, among others. Her work has also been included in Double Take: Collective Memory and Current Art at the Hayward Gallery, London, and The Raw and the Cooked, Reńa Sofia Museum, Madrid. In 1994 her first American exhibition took place at The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago. This project was then adapted for the Grey Art Gallery, New York University. Her exhibition at the AGYU and the concurrent exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario will be the first presentation of her work in Canada.

This exhibition is produced with the assistance of the Canada Council and the Australian Consulate General and Trade Commission.
Art Gallery of York University | Accolade East Building, 4700 Keele Street | Toronto ON M3J 1P3 | agyu [at] yorku.ca