Today the National Gallery of Canada
(NGC) and the National Gallery of Canada Foundation announced the acquisition of Theatre of Cruelty, an immersive art installation by internationally-renowned Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer. This significant work has been acquired through the generous support of the NGC Foundations Audain Endowment for Contemporary Canadian Art. Theatre of Cruelty represents a pivotal point in the evolution of the artists creative practice in which experience and imagination are blurred as he draws from narratives, forms and images taken from modernism, popular culture, theatre, literature and the everyday.
This installation turns the table on traditional ways of observing art by engaging the viewer as a participant. The audience is invited to enter into a reconstructed version of the artists studio and navigate through visual historical references, which speak of cruelty and violence, into a dream scene where inanimate objects seem to come to life through an elaborate orchestration of sound and light effects.
This ambitious work by an important Vancouver artist strengthens our collection of installations, said NGC Director, Marc Mayer. We are indebted to Michael Audain and Yoshiko Karasawa for having established the Audain Endowment for Contemporary Canadian Art which facilitated this acquisition considerably.
Theatre of Cruelty combines Farmers interest in politics, social history and psychology. Within it he sets up tensions between the animate and the inanimate, the active and passive and the real and artificial. It also reveals his longstanding interest in theatre and storytelling along with his more recent socially-engaged and increasingly process-oriented, transformative installation practice. Elaborate staging and a choreographed light and soundscape create a continually shifting experience.
Commenting on the acquisition, Michael Audain, Chair of the Audain Foundation and member of the NGC Board of Trustees said, Contemporary art reveals to us the preoccupations of our age as expressed by exceptionally creative people. The endowment fund was established specifically for their point of view to be appreciated. I am delighted that it helped the National Gallery of Canada lead the way once again through this important acquisition.
This is the second purchase made possible by the Audain Endowment, the first of which was Peoples Flag by Brian Jungen in 2006. This is a perfect example of how endowment funds allow us to augment and enrich the NGC Collections, said NGC Foundation President and CEO Marie Claire Morin. We are grateful to Michael Audain and his wife, Yoshiko Karasawa, for having shown such vision and commitment to contemporary Canadian art and the National Gallery of Canada.
Theater of Cruelty is one of the works featured in Caught in the Act: The Viewer as Performer, an exhibition of contemporary art on view in the NGCs Special Exhibition galleries until February 15, 2009. The Gallery owns two other works by Geoffrey Farmer: an elaborate sculpture, Trailer (2002), and photographs from the Pale Fire Freedom Machine series (2005).
About Geoffrey Farmer
Geoffrey Farmer is an established contemporary Canadian artist whose work spans the realms of sculpture, photography, and multi-media installations. He is interested in the processes of theatre of storytelling, staging, improvisation and the fabrication of reality. Consistently in a state of metamorphosis, Farmers works are often based in a found object, memory or dream and blur the boundaries between experience and imagination. Over the past decade, Farmer has achieved international recognition. His works have been presented in solo and group exhibitions across Europe and North America. Based in Vancouver, Farmer attended the San Francisco Art Institute (19911992) and graduated from the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in 1993.