Taras Polataiko - 11/27 to 01/30

Barbara Edwards Contemporary is pleased to announce the solo exhibition of renowned Ukrainian Canadian artist Taras Polataiko. Since his arrival in Canada in 1989, Polataiko has garnered increasing international attention for his provocative and conceptually rigorous art works that often concern notions of rupture and repair. This exhibition highlights two distinct trends in Polataiko’s practice: the photography series Human Locomotion continues his work with symbolic moments in the history of art and representation, while the projects Kyiv Classical and In the Land of the Head Hunters express his deep concerns with cultural oppression and historical erasure.

Kyiv Classical details the artist’s inquiry into the disappearance of a commemorative plaque marking the site in Bad Ems, Germany where in 1876 Russian Czar Alexander II signed a secret edict banning the use of the Ukrainian language. Using glow in the dark paint, black light and a recorded song by a canary specially bred by Ukrainian ornithologists, Polataiko calls attention to the plaque’s absence and the city’s seeming indifference to this aspect of its history. In the Land of the Head Hunters was made in collaboration with the Kwakiutl Band Council, and records a screening of Edward Curtis’s eponymous 1914 film for the descendants of the cast. Curtis hired Kwakiutl people to enact a fictional pre-contact narrative and perform dances and ceremonies that were outlawed under the 1885 Indian Act. Polataiko, taken by the fact that after it was created the film was never shown to the community, plans the first screening with the Band and documents the event. In both Kyiv Classical and In the Land of the Head Hunters, Polataiko revisits the site of displacement, investigating the ideological forces that effect what remains and what is erased from historical memory.

In Human Locomotion, models reenact poses from Eadweard Muybridge’s iconic stop-motion project (1887). Whereas Muybridge used a rapid shutter speed to freeze his subjects’ natural motions, Polataiko asks his models to hold in-between, unbalanced positions. Captured using long exposures, the blurred results record the tensions in the models’ bodies. Through this inversion, Polataiko addresses the conditioning of humanity by technological progress – the invention of the motion picture irrevocably changing the way we perceive ourselves in time.

Polataiko’s public exhibitions include: Ukrainian Institute of America (New York); Künstlerhaus Schloß Balmoral (Frankfurt, Germany); Center for Contemporary Art (Warsaw, Poland); Soros International Center for Contemporary Art (Kyiv, Ukraine); Art Gallery of Hamilton; Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art; Musée d’Art Contemporain; Winnipeg Art Gallery Museum London; MacMaster Art Gallery; Artspeak Gallery; Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; MacKenzie Art Gallery; Dunlop Art Gallery; Mendel Art Gallery (all Canada); Antoni Tapies Foundation (Barcelona, Spain); CAAM (Las Palmas, Spain), Artspace (Sydney, Australia); National Museum of Contemporary Art (Belgrade, Serbia) and the National Museum of Art (Lithuania). In 2002 Polataiko represented Ukraine at the 25th São Paulo Biennale and in 2009 he participated in the International Incheon Biennale in South Korea and Volta 5: Age of Anxiety in Basel, Switzerland. His upcoming exhibitions include Priska C. Juschka Fine Art (New York), Pulse Miami and Galerie U7 (Frankfurt). He is currently based in Vancouver.

Taras Polataiko will deliver a talk on November 28th at 2pm

For more information contact

Video still
In the Land of the Head-Hunters
Single channel video, 20 min 50 sec, b/w, sound