April 28 - May 1 . 1999
The Red Head Gallery, Toronto
The exhibition began within the context of a first year MFA course at the University of Western Ontario. The course was affectionately titled 'PET Project' -- the acronym in the title referring to a trio of concerns, Practice, Excavation and Taste, that I wanted participants to consider in relation to questions around Modernism in visual art. The text component of the course led the students and myself through a diverse range of materials including Peter Burger's Theory of the Avant Garde, Thierry de Duve's Kant After Duchamp, and Robert Storr's "No Joy in Mudville." The excavations began in the vaults at the AGO, where our looking focused primarily on Canadian modernist abstraction from the 50's and 60's. We also made a dig at Ripley's Believe It Or Not in Niagara Falls. Some amazingly fortuitous similarities and contradictions between the two museums set all of the students in motion toward the production of the exhilaratingly diverse works in this exhibition. Clearly, if I had feared that a situation like 'PET Project' might promote the kind of homogenous production that modernist abstract practice is often accused of, my fears were unfounded.