Greater Toronto Art 2024 / Preview at MOCA 

This ambitious exhibition is the second edition of a triennial exhibit that offers artists with a connection to the Greater Toronto Area an opportunity to display their work from March 23rd to July 28th, 2024. The exhibit is on all the three floors of the museum. Kate Wong (MOCA Curator), one of the three curators, told me about the challenges of this exhibition, such as the enormity of it coupled with all the logistics of the project. This was evident as art works were still getting installed during the preview. The show is a collaboration of the three curators Kate Wong, Ebony L. Haynes and Toleen Touq. The three curators navigated through proposals for commissioned works from artists, followed by studio visits to come up with the final art pieces.

Curator, Kate Wong

At the media preview we were introduced to the project by MOCA’s Director, Kathleen Bartels who took us through the process of putting it together with MOCA’s involvement and, of course, thanking the sponsors, including BMO, that helped make it possible. The curators were then introduced and they took us through the exhibition and introduced us to some of the attending artists.

MOCA’s Director, Kathleen Bartels

A show of this size and scope has many different parts and so, just like the GTA itself, is hard to define. There are gems and a few works that are more challenging to connect with. Near the entrance on the first floor there is the work by Sukaina Kubba, titled “Enclave, Exclave” (hand drawn PLA Filament). Her works are connected with memory and this installation was inspired by a Persian carpet that was in her family’s home in Baghdad, Iraq. As her statement reads: she “finds beauty in isolation and not only welcomes but prioritizes the power that lies in details.”  Visitors are aided by way of QR codes to link to more information on their phones.

Sukaina Kubba with her installation Enclave, Exclave, hand drawn PLA Filament

One of the installations that impressed me was Catherine Telford Keogh’s “Carriers (Gravity Fed)”, 2024. This work was commissioned by MOCA and supported by Canada Council funding. Keogh found the conveyor rollers in a demolished factory near Montreal and stored them in her studio until she saw that her work would be well suited in the MOCA site, with its history as an automotive parts factory. In her work she addresses consumerism and environmental issues. There are containers on the conveyor belt that have capsulized consumer objects and another one with industrial waste turned into sludge. She enjoys exploring industrial sites and even volunteered in a factory as part of her research.

Catherine Telford Keogh in front of her installation Carriers (Gravity Fed), 2024 (left) and detail of Carriers (right)

Artist Jes Fan has done research on soya production in the GTA and has several sculptures commissioned for GTA24 using soya sheets hanging from sculptures of steel and glass.

Jas Fan, Interface 1 and 2, resin, steel, glass & soyaderm

Oreka James has a sculpture with cow horns and steel (Tempus), as well as a painting (Night Angel). These are commissioned works which explore “lessons on animism” with cultural references from Japan and West Africa.

Installation view with Oreka James, Tempus, I Have lived and So Will Tell, 2024, steel, cow horns and earth (left) and Night Angel, oil and acrylic on canvas (right)

The artist Michael Thompson, has a personal connection to the automotive sector, as shown in his painting “Red Hot (anvil)” so it is fitting that the work is displayed in an old automotive factory that has been transformed into an art institution.

Michael Thompson, Red hot, acrylic on canvas

Artist G.B. Jones has done 3 graphite drawings of buildings in the GTA region including The Cotton Factory in Hamilton, The Uxbridge Train Station in Durham and The Old Angel Inn in Niagara on The Lake. Jones “explores the psychogeography of place” with her works.

G.B. Jones, Uxbridge Train Station, graphite on paper

Just as in GTA21 many artists have been commissioned to create works specifically for GTA24. This allowed them to create works keeping in mind MOCA’s challenging layout with its massive structural supports. These are not necessarily a negative feature but define the space with a sense of its industrial history.

Installation view of GTA24 at MOCA

Every medium seems to be covered in the exhibit with many video works, paintings, photo-based works, a sound installation in the stairwell and even graphite drawings. GTA24 also has offsite screenings at the Paradise Theatre and some performances that visitors can attend. In May there will be a launch of a GTA24 publication by Copenhagen Design House.

Lotus L. Kang, Receiver Transmitter, (Butterfly)

GTA24 offers the public many insights into contemporary art practises from artists across the GTA and the curators have done a good job in encompassing the diverse nature of the region. Visitors now get an opportunity to see and experience the GTA in many ways through the creative works of some 25 artists. Besides the commissioned works there are also works dating from 1963 included in the show. Visitors should be prepared to spend some time looking at the many pieces and are bound to find their own favourites.

Installation view of GTA24 at MOCA

Text and photo: Phil Anderson

*Exhibition information: GTA24, March 23 – July 28, 2024, Museum of Contemporary Art, 158 Sterling Rd, Toronto. Museum hours: Wed – Thu & Sat – Sun 11 am – 6 pm; Fri 11 am – 9 pm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *