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VISUAL ARTS AWARDS 2011 RECIPIENTS

Award for Outstanding Achievement as an Artist

Geoffrey Farmer


At once fragile and multiform, discreet and omnipresent, Farmer's work is the product of simple yet strategic manipulations. It operates on the same level as everyday experience: simultaneously rational and chaotic, undeniably concrete yet shaped by the imagination. In a voice that combines poetry and social commentary, his work conjures and reactivates a variety of narratives drawn from history, popular culture, art history and social environments. It also reflects an interest in the exhibition itself – both its fictional power and its temporal component. Farmer focuses on particular features of these diverse sources, notably concepts of work and process, transformation and performance.

In recommending Geoffrey Farmer for the Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Art Award, the jury considered his original and steadfastly courageous practice. “Choosing to locate his art in activity, process and relationships, Farmer counters the idea that a museum is a static zone for inert objects.  His installations can invoke the stage of Noh theatre or take place within the walls of the museum. Both topical and poetically dream-like, they set in motion assemblage and collage as ways of reading history and contemporary crises.  Since his monumental "Pale Fire Freedom Machine", a work which celebrates the forgotten proletariat, at the Power Plant in 2005, Farmer has gone on to have major installations at Tate Modern, the Biennale of Sydney and the Istanbul Biennial among other international venues. Despite his international following, Geoffrey Farmer pays much attention to the local scene. For a recent Vancouver City Public Art Commission, Farmer designed and opened a gallery on Vancouver's east side to show the work of artists, other than himself, and to unite the creative community. It is this great generosity that lies at the heart of his artistic practice.”

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