Kelly Richardson   The Erudition

January 15, 2011 - March 6, 2011

Saturday, January 15
Artists walkthroughs and remarks starting at 8 PM

Mining the aesthetics of cinema and science fiction, The Erudition presents a lunar-esque landscape with what appears to be an unlikely monument or proposal, consisting of holographic trees blowing in fictional wind. Is this slightly malfunctioning display a forgotten site for proposed colonization? Better yet, is this some kind of alien artwork?
In 2009, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery invited UK-based artist Kelly Richardson to participate in the Intersection International Residency program at the Gushul Studio in Blairmore, Alberta.  Richardson, whose video and photography-based practice puts its own spin on the traditions of Canadian landscape art, gathered reams of footage capturing the surrounding terrain. In post-production, all traces of human interference were removed, and skies, stars and trees were digitally constructed in an effort to heighten the appearance of being potentially otherworldly. Now complete, The Erudition is premiering simultaneously in three Canadian provinces with the full three-channel, high definition version debuting at SAAG.

The Erudition sustains Richardson’s interest in simultaneity and affect through the use of cinematic language.  Enveloping visitors in part real, part imagined landscapes, her works become visual metaphors for our modern ‘reality’: a wavering hybrid of fact and fiction, a world at once fantastic and sublime, yet rife with uncertainty and ambiguity.   There is a palpable tension in The Erudition as a scene both familiar and utterly alien, and with the eerie erasure of any physical evidence of humankind, one senses an apocalyptic undertone and perhaps something greater than one’s self.  Orphaned in Richardson’s silent, artificial landscape, the political, cultural, environmental and technological dimensions that surface overlap all too well with our own reality. 

Erudition, far more than an accumulation of knowledge, proposes a comprehensive understanding of a subject approached from multiple contexts and perspectives.   Given the absence of people in Richardson’s work, one must wonder ‘who’ has become so erudite, and what has been learned so fully?   As well, the seemingly simple gesture of adding “the” to the title makes The Erudition so much more enigmatic.  The use of this determiner indicates a singular event, prompting the suspicion that this site may be of historical, even sacred significance, only for an event that has yet to happen.   One could imagine the site as one of celebration, contemplation or tragedy; a public artwork mourning a once arcadian land whose forests have withered away or a memorial for some future genocide with a warning for when erudition is replaced by hegemony. 

Kelly Richardson was born in Burlington, Ontario, Canada in 1972 and currently lives and works in the United Kingdom. Her work has been exhibited in many notable exhibitions around the world including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s The Cinema Effect: Illusion, Reality and the Moving Image, Sundance Film Festival (2009), Beijing 798 Biennale (2009), Busan Biennale (2008), Gwangju Biennale (2004) and she is represented in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Art Gallery of Ontario and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. She is represented in Toronto by Birch Libralato.


The Erudition is organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and curated by Ryan Doherty. Funding assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the City of Lethbridge. Additional support from Christie Digital  Projectors (equipment) and Birch Libralato (catalogue).

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