One New Work
Gwenessa Lam: What Magic

June 16 – September 9, 2018

Curated by Nancy Tousley
Organized by Glenbow
Supported by Canada Council for the Arts

A photograph of a house on fire in Commerce, Georgia was the starting point for Gwenessa Lam: What Magic.

Gwenessa Lam, an assistant professor of painting at the Alberta College of Art & Design, initially came across the image on a news website. Interested how meaning is made, lost and changed by the repetition and circulation of images on the web, and how the line between perceived and constructed reality is continually blurred, Lam proceeded to search for other copies of it online. What she found was a proliferation of the same burning-house photo on 29 websites accompanied by 29 different news accounts or safety messages. The appropriated image had become meme-like, spreading from Georgia to Portugal to Zambia to Azerbaijan.

What Magic consists of an installation of etchings and texts, an artist’s book and a video projection. Included are nine graphite drawings of other burning houses in Canada, the United States and New Zealand, also based on images found on the Internet.

One New Work is an ongoing series of exhibitions focused on new work by significant Alberta artists. Curated by Nancy Tousley, the exhibitions juxtapose an artist’s recent, feature artwork with other objects or artwork (often drawn from Glenbow’s collection) selected to set the “one new work” within a context. Gwenessa Lam: What Magic is the sixth exhibition in the series.

Gwenessa Lam, What Magic, 2017-18, photo-etching with chine colle, Courtesy of the Artist. Photograph by Blaine Campbell
Gwenessa Lam, Brentwood no. 2 (Negative), 2017, graphite on paper, Courtesy of the Artist

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