Moyra Davey at the National Gallery of Canada

Moyra Davey at the National Gallery of Canada

The National Gallery of Canada, located in Ottawa, Ontario, is one of Canada’s most important museums. The museum is housed in a glass and granite structure on Sussex Drive with a view of the Parliament Hill buildings. When the museum was founded in 1880, its collection consisted simply of a long sequence of 19th century landscape paintings; about 140 years later the collection has expanded to exceed 75 thousand works, to which must be added a library and archive. Since 2019, Sasha Suda has been the director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada, and immediately sought to highlight and update the themes of the exhibition, seeking links and contacts between different cultural worlds. This is why, from this point of view, the collection is today revisited in a continuous reinterpretation, where the past can find bridges of passage in the contemporary world, without therefore stopping at the simple aesthetic enjoyment of an artifact; to put it in other words: “The works of art reveal the past, celebrate the present, and probe the future. The collection must be expanded, preserved, interpreted, and used extensively by the public for pleasure and understanding, for research and the advancement of knowledge “.

At the moment, the museum (which remains open to the public according to the strictest anti-pandemic safety criteria) hosts the exhibition “The Faithful” by Moyra Davey, one of Canada’s most innovative and conceptual artists.

The exhibition includes 54 photographs and 6 films, and some of these works are already part of the museum collection. The exhibition was designed by the curator Andrea Kunard together with the author, with the aim of developing a historical thread that can give an overview of her entire production.

Her first images concerned relatives and friends up to the more marginal and common aspects of daily life, which can be found, for example, in the “documentation” of empty whiskey bottles or in piles of records. One of her first series, “Copperheads” (1990), featured enlarged close-ups of worn one-cent coins, thereby reflecting on the impact of human action on everyday objects. Then, shortly after 2010, the author began to focus on alternative film productions (“Les Goodesses”, “Hemlock Forest”, “I Confess”, “Notes On Blue”, “The Wedding Loop”, “Home Avenue”). Her films are reflections on the nature of existence, thought and the human condition, where she combines her experiences with those of well-known artists, writers and philosophers. In this sense, the films become montages of moving images that incorporate a personal narrative and which works almost like an interior monologue. For example, in the film “I Confess” (2019) the author makes us reflect, in a sort of memory album, on aspects of her life in Quebec in the seventies and eighties, where the first collides with the after and the memory flows into the considerations of others.

Born in Toronto in 1958, Moyra Davey currently lives in New York and boasts a nice package of museum exhibitions in her curriculum; we mention a few: Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2010); Tate Liverpool (2013); ICA, Philadelphia and Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (2014). Last is that of the National Gallery of Canada.

Fabio Fabris


Until January 3 2021
“The Faithful”
Moyra Davey
National Gallery of Canada
380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa

Moyra Davey, view of an exhibition room “The Faithful”, ph courtesy National Gallery of Canada

Moyra Davey, view of an exhibition room “The Faithful”, ph courtesy National Gallery of Canada

Moyra Davey, Faithful, photographic print, ph courtesy National Gallery of Canada

Moyra Davey, Subway Writers, stampa fotografica, ph courtesy National Gallery of CanadaMoyra Davey, Subway Writers, photographic print, ph courtesy National Gallery of Canada


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