Exhibition: Stephen Bulger Gallery – Scott Conarroe – China

Exhibition Dates: April 5May 3, 2014
Closing Reception: Saturday, May 3, 2-5pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, May 3, 1pm; RSVP as seating is limited.TORONTO, March 26, 2014 /CNW/ – Scott Conarroe (b. Edmonton, AB, 1974) first visited Beijing in the wake of the 2008 Summer Olympics. He returned to China briefly the following year and in 2012 he began photographing that nation against the backdrop of a railway expansion that rivals America’s Interstates in both scope and intent. With imagery from this ongoing study, some earlier impressions, and a surprising new strain of street work, “China” describes a vast historical moment shot through with human-scale dramas.

Conarroe has ranged some twenty provinces by rail. He is 6′ tall, blue-eyed and in no danger of blending in. Over thousands of shoulder-to-shoulder and knee-to-knee kilometres he has learned to make primitive small talk and to recede from focus. His view is certainly an outsider’s, but even the landscapes in this exhibition contain instances of unguardedness; village men idling at billiards, people bent in picturesque labour and someone’s small garden arranged around a drip-filled bucket. Closer in, his tableaux of proletariat ennui, a prosperous couple fighting and women laughing like girls read as stills from a well-produced cinematic feature. The West has been exposed to many iterations of China in recent years: grandiose, tragic, inspiring, infuriating, backwards and futuristic. Each reflects degrees of truth and each leaves something to be desired. Conarroe’s China considers the casual yenning of people who live between those extremes

Conarroe has a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and an MFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.  He has exhibited internationally and has been awarded numerous prizes, including grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the 2011 Duke and Duchess of York Prize for Photography, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Conarroe’s upcoming monograph, By Rail and By Sea, will be published by Black Dog Publishing.  He currently teaches at Emily Carr University of Art and Design and he lives between Vancouver and Zurich.