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Terra Nova Art Foundation announces the selection of two Newfoundland & Labrador artists for their project as part of the world’s most prestigious contemporary art event - the 56th Venice Biennale. The exhibition, titled Under the Surface, will present recent work by Jordan Bennett (Stephenville Crossing, NL) and Anne Troake (Twillingate, NL). Under the Surface is curated by Chris Clarke (born in St. John’s, NL; Senior Curator at Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork, Ireland). The exhibition will be housed within Galleria Ca’ Rezzonico, a Gothic palazzo on Venice's historic Grand Canal, and will run from May 9 - November 22, 2015.  

This year’s artists were selected by Clarke from submitted proposals, in consultation with the Selections Advisory Committee: Sarah Fillmore (Chief Curator, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia); Mary MacDonald (Director, Eastern Edge Gallery);  and Jonathan Shaughnessy (Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Canada).

The Exhibition

The exhibition posits the landscape as a space that continually informs and influences our relationship to the province, what it means to live in such an environment and how it determines our sense of individual and collective identity.
— Chris Clarke, Curator

Under the Surface will present two distinct, but complementary, bodies of work:

Jordan Bennett’s Ice Fishing encompasses the installation of a fishing shack and multiple video/audio projections. The audio tracks are recordings between the artist and his father concerning the historical significance of ice fishing. Ice Fishing was co-created by Bennett and the NFB Digital Studio and produced by the National Film Board of Canada as part of the NFB/ImagiNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival Digital Media Partnership.

Anne Troake’s OutSideIn is an immersive 3D video installation that shifts from the familiar to the wild, the natural to the supernatural. Filmed at the artist’s farm in Logy Bay, NL, two unclothed bodies (renowned dancers Carole Prieur and Bill Coleman) perform a choreography based upon cellular-sourced movements.

“Jordan Bennett and Anne Troake exemplify the centrality of the land to the inhabitants of Newfoundland and Labrador,” states Chris Clarke. “This notion of a specific geographical terrain as an integral part of the region's traditions, culture and economy is explored in their respective practices, as a site of performance and interaction as well as an expression of one's community and heritage. In this way, the exhibition posits the landscape as a space that continually informs and influences our relationship to the province, what it means to live in such an environment and how it determines our sense of individual and collective identity."

Under the Surface is the second in an ongoing plan to present a range of Newfoundland & Labrador artists at biennales and other international venues. The exhibition will build on the success of TNAF’s first project at the 55th Venice Biennale, About Turn: Will Gill & Peter Wilkins. About Turn was the first time in Canadian history that an independent Canadian foundation received official inclusion as a Collateral Project. In addition to extensive press coverage, the exhibition garnered approximately 30,000 visitors - including many of the world’s most prominent academics, art critics, collectors, curators, dignitaries, and directors.

The Artists

Photo: Candace Cunning

Photo: Candace Cunning

Photo: Christopher Darlington

Photo: Christopher Darlington

Jordan Bennett is a multi-disciplinary artist of Mi’kmaq descent based on the west coast of Newfoundland. His practice explores the convergence of pop culture and cultural appropriation; utilizing traditional craft making, new media and performance to tackle preconceived notions of identity and authorship. Bennett has shown extensively over the past few years across Canada and abroad, in places such as the Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa, ON; Modern Fuel Artist Run Centre, Kingston, ON; The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, St. Johns, NL; The Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC; Alternator Artist Run Centre, Kelowna, BC, and The Museum of Art and Design, New York City, NY. Bennett was recently included in BLOUIN ARTINFO’s 30 under 30 list, and received the Artist of the Year Award from the Newfoundland & Labrador Arts Council in 2014. He is currently completing a Masters of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia.

Anne Troake is a multi-disciplinary artist from Twillingate, Newfoundland. Her practice has its roots in choreography and dance but often utilizes filmmaking. Troake’s short film Pretty Big Dig won The CGI Jury Prize at Montreal's Festival International du Film sur L'Art. Her work has been shown at The Canada Dance Festival, the Soho 20 Gallery (NYC), Artist's Television Access (San Francisco), the Lincoln Center's Dance on Camera Festival, the Kennedy Center, and the Goethe Institute. In 2005, Troake completed her ethnographic documentary My Ancestors Were Rogues and Murderers for the National Film Board of Canada, which garnered rave reviews by the public and press across Canada and launched Ms. Troake into research and exploration of the human body’s relationship to nature as manifested in physicality, morality and beliefs. She is currently completing a Masters degree in Anthropology at Memorial University.

The Curator

This year’s curator is Chris Clarke, selected by the Foundation for his close ties to Newfoundland and his international reputation. "It's a privilege to be invited to curate the Newfoundland and Labrador at Venice exhibition for the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015," says Clarke. "This initiative, brilliantly realised in 2013 through the exhibition of artists Will Gill and Peter Wilkins, represents Newfoundland and Labrador's artistic ambition and a continuing dedication to engage with international contemporary artists, curators and institutions. I very much look forward to contributing to this exciting project."

Chris Clarke (1975, St. John’s, Newfoundland) is a critic and Senior Curator at Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork, Ireland, where he has curated exhibitions including Mixtapes (2010), Passports: Globalisation in Contemporary European Video (2013) and Modern Families (2013) as well as the Irish touring exhibition Game On: Re-Newing Media Art (2012). Previously he was the Visual Arts Engagement Manager at Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK, and his independent curatorial projects include The Second Act at Arts Centre de Brakke Grond, Amsterdam (2011) as well as solo exhibitions and commissions with artists Shaina Anand (IN), David Blandy (UK), Goran Galić & Gian-Reto Gredig (CH), Ria Pacqueé (BE) and Gregor Neuerer (AT). He is a frequent contributor to arts journals and magazines including Art Monthly, Photography & Culture, Source and VAN and is a lecturer for the MA: Art & Process course at Crawford College of Art & Design, Cork, Ireland.