Absence of Presence

Absence of Presence
The Art Incubator Gallery, July 10 to August 14, 2020
Harcourt House Artist Run Centre, 3rd floor, 10215 – 112 St, Edmonton

It has only been a few months, but COVID-19 pandemic has already caused incalculable and potentially irreversible damage not only to our economies, communities,  families, and personal lives, but also to the art world. Theatres are dark, concerts cancelled, museums are shuttered, and the art galleries are closed: light switches flipped off, white room after white room gone dark with paintings, sculptures, and new media installation works removed from the walls, plinths, and floors. A sudden and brutal absence of presence of the 3 key A-s: Art, Artists, and Audiences. Curated by Jacek Malec, Harcourt House’s Executive Director, the exhibition Absence of Presence pays tribute to the solidarity shown by artists and arts institutions at a time when art is suffering the full effects of a global health, economic, social, and cultural crisis. By showcasing empty picture frames and empty plinths in the white cube of the gallery, the exhibition/installation metaphorically illustrates the void created by the recent pandemic in the global arts and culture sector with the absence of presence of key components, players, and stakeholders. It also aims to re-affirm the resilience of art during this difficult period and acts as a warning to the void that we could be left after the pandemic should we not actively work to preserve the arts sector. The exhibition also flags that this time of confinement can also be a period of reflection, openness to others and to culture, and the opportunity to strengthen the links between artistic creations and a society so absent in their presence and so often taken for granted in our daily pursuits.

NOTE: Harcourt’s art galleries are closed to the public until further notice. The presentation of both exhibitions will only be featured online at www.harcourthouse.ab.ca.


photographs by Jack Bawden