Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 03, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 04, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 05, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 06, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 07, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 08, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 10, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 12, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 15, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 16, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 17, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 18, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 19, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 21, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 22, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 23, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 24, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 25, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 13, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Wonderland, 26, 2008

digital print

43 x 43 in. (109 x 109 cm)

Barbara Astman, Wonderland #25, 2008

 

There are endless possibilities for narratives within found objects. Astman is a postcard collector; fascinated with them as syntheses between personal memories and constructed reality. In “On Photography,” Susan Sontag speaks to the motives of collecting images from which stories flourish: “To collect photographs is to collect the world. Movie and television programs light up walls, flicker, and go out; but with still photographs the image is also an object, lightweight, cheap to produce, easy to carry about, accumulate, store”. Postcards represent a quintessential moment where photography becomes object. 

 

The idea of collecting is significant, as a collection is a form of record in one’s life. As a child, postcards and encyclopedias made Astman realize there was a larger world outside of her neighborhood. She would stare at the postcard long enough to imagine herself being there, preferring the postcard version of reality. Astman is most interested in the postcards that represent a naive world void of worldly problems. 

 

Using digital techniques to position the postcards within negative space, Astman captures the feeling of flipping through stacks; harnessing a tension between motion and stillness. The body of work is about the relationship between the real and the artificial, and how experience can occur through artificial representation of the real. 

BARBARA ASTMAN belongs to a visionary group of artists who have continued to radicalize visual culture since the early 1970s by defining new ways of seeing. Over four decades, she has explored a wide range of photo-based media and produced work that has received national and international recognition. She is represented in important public, corporate and private collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Deutche Bank, New York; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Her artist’s archives are held in the E.P. Taylor Research Library & Archives, AGO.

 

Astman has an extensive and prestigious solo exhibition history, most recently the two-part Looking: Then and Now (Corkin Gallery, 2016) and BarbaraAstman: I as artifact. The latter featured a new series accompanied by a comprehensive publication (McIntosh Gallery, 2014). In May 2011, her installation, Dancing with Che: Enter through the Gift Shop (Kelowna Art Gallery, 2013) toured across Canada. And her touring retrospective, Barbara Astman: Personal/Persona – A 20 Year Survey, was curated by Liz Wylie (Art Gallery of Hamilton, 1995). Astman has been included in major group exhibitions, such as: Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989 (AGO, 2016), Living Building Thinking: Art and Expressionism (McMaster Museum of Art, 2016), Look Again: Colour Xerography Art Meets Technology (AGO, 2015), Herland (60 Wall Gallery, New York, 2014), Light My Fire Part I: Some Propositions about Portraits and Photography (AGO, 2013), and Beautiful Fictions (AGO, 2009). Canadian Art featured a profile of her career in its Spring 2014 issue. 

Astman was commissioned to create an installation for the inaugural exhibition at the Koffler Gallery (Toronto, 2013). She has completed several public art commissions, including the Murano on Bay in Toronto, comprised of 217 windows with photo-based imagery (2010); a public art installation for the Canadian Embassy in Berlin, Germany (2005); and a floor installation for the Calgary Winter Olympics (1987).

 

Active in the Toronto arts community, Astman has served on numerous boards and advisory committees, including the AGO Board of Trustees (2009-2013). Currently, she is the Chair of the Art Advisory Committee, Koffler Gallery, Toronto and President, Board of Directors, Prefix (ICA) Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto. In addition, she has co-curated an installation titled The Emergence of Feminism: Changing the Course of Art, featuring work by Joyce Wieland, Suzy Lake and Lisa Steele (AGO, 2008).

 

Astman holds degrees from the Rochester Institute of Technology, School for American Craftsmen, and Ontario College of Art. She has been a professor at OCAD University, Toronto since 2001.

 

Text by Georgiana Uhlyarik, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art, AGO. For more information, please visit www.barbaraastman.com.