Juan A. Gaitán is a curator and writer. Recent exhibitions include I, YAMA, Istanbul; The End of Money, Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; and Models for Taking Part, Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver and Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Toronto. His writing has been published in Afterall, The Exhibitionist, and Mousse magazine, among others. He is teaching in the curatorial studies master’s program at CCA in San Francisco.
Since graduating from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 1997, Schmidt has received considerable recognition as an important emerging artist. Select recent exhibitions include Presentation House Gallery (North Vancouver); Frankfurter Kunstverein (Frankfurt); Zierhersmith (New York); Edmonton Art Gallery; Blackwood Gallery (Missassauga); McKenzie Art Gallery (Regina), Fruitmarket Gallery (Edinburgh); and Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver).
Director/Curator of Artspeak 2004–2010.
September 10–October 15, 2005
Engaging with the pictorial traditions of landscape, Kevin Schmidt’s representations of nature raise discussions around the sublime and the spectacular. Often employing special effects, Schmidt’s work calls on the artifice of theatre and cinema. Many of these works, including recent projects Fog and Long Beach Led Zep, utilize ideas of spiritualism, whether the Romanticism denoted by supernatural fog or the hippie mysticism of 1970’s rock music. Schmidt’s investigations into the genre of landscape take into consideration its long tradition, particularly in Vancouver, and attempt to reimbue it with a qualified optimism.
Schmidt’s most recent project Burning Bush is a durational video projection of a bush in a desert landscape that appears to burn, yet miraculously remains unconsumed. This extended landscape portrait takes its cue from Exodus 3 in which Moses encounters a burning bush through which God speaks. Schmidt’s work plays on contemporary interpretations of this myth and its cooption by Hollywood (as well as the Hollywoodization of the church in which sermons are held in vast movie theatres and stadiums while the live event is projected on the big screen). The work’s intermingling of religious and political mythologies point to the languages, both visual and textual, around faith. Schmidt describes Burning Bush as “a staging of artistic artifice, spiritual symbolism and humanistic concern.” In revealing its construction, Burning Bush extends an invitation to the viewer to participate in a meditation on art historical, pop cultural, political and spiritual references, while presenting the possibility of an experience of wonder.
Title: Burning Bush
Category: Artist Book
Artist: Kevin Schmidt
Writers: Juan A. Gaitan
Design: Hundreds & Thousands
Year published: 2005
Binding: Perfect Bound
Features: 20 colour images
Dimensions: 24 x 15 x 0.5 cm
Weight: 104 g
Price: $5 CDN
Speculating on belief, Kevin Schmidt’s video Burning Bush and Juan Gaitan’s essay Doubt as an Optical Illusion, instigate discussions around faith, disbelief and humanity. Schmidt’s extended landscape portrait of a burning bush intermingles religious, political and art historical mythologies to point to the languages, both visual and textual, of doctrine. In the staging of a miracle, the bush assumes a kind of faltering breath, a sense of possibility. If the bush is indeed “a sleeping life,” Burning Bush awakens in the viewer the prospect of humanistic consideration. Schmidt’s and Gaitan’s investigations are pertinent given the ongoing disasters reported on daily: New Orleans’ sinking, Iraq’s continued bedlam, environmental disaster, terror. In this climate of physical and philosophical crisis, miracles gain possibility, potency and even efficacy. They can ask us to suspend our (dis)belief and bear witness to the world. Burning Bush extends an invitation to meditate on aesthetic, cultural, political and spiritual references, offering the potential of sublime wonder and growth.