Rainer Ganahl

Basic Canadian

April 8 - May 6, 2000

Basic Canadian
Basic Canadian

Basic Canadian

Basic Canadian

Paul Petro Contemporary Art is pleased to present the premiere of Basic Canadian, a video and photography installation by New York-based artist Rainer Ganahl. This is the Austrian-born artist's first exhibition in Canada. Basic Canadian is a co-presentation with Toronto's Images Festival of Independent Film & Video.

The installation is comprised of 53 videotaped interviews which address the linguistic (self)-understanding of Canadians. About half of the interviews were conducted in Montreal and half in Toronto. Ganahl's mother tongue is neither French nor English, giving the artist a status of the third party, a neutral listener or arbitrator. The interviews do not just focus on the French-English language history alone. The artist recorded a wide spectrum of diverging and conflicting opinions. He tried not to ignore the fact that there are many linguistic and cultural minorities - immigrant and native - living in Canada.

A series of Basic Canadian and Lecture/Seminar photographs taken in Canada during the production complete the installation. These images are juxtaposed with linguistic material from study books used in Canada that sometimes express surprising biases.

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Since the early 1990's Ganahl has considered the study of foreign languages to be a major part of his art practice His interest lies in the social and political dimensions, rather than the linguistic properties, of languages. His work addresses eurocentrism, the complicated relationship between power and knowledge and their institutions, the intellectual arrogance associated with educational ideologies and nation-building, and the specific/particular value systems that are inscribed in languages. Ganahl's language-related works take on a variety of different forms and include actual language studying over years (Japanese, Russian, Korean, Modern Greek, Chinese etc.), interviews, videos, objects, works on paper and online (www.ganahl.org) as well as photographs and performances. His work has been exhibited internationally since 1988. Ganahl represented Austria at the 48th Venice Biennale (1999).