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John Shelling

May 8th – June 13th, 2009

The Book of Knowledge is John Shelling’s first solo exhibition since graduating from the University of Saskatchewan’s Fine Art program, and the artist’s first solo show in an artist-run centre. Like his graduating exhibition, entitled Kinesthetika, Shelling continues to investigate notions of reception as they come to play out in the art gallery setting. Both past and current projects involve calling upon the gallery-goer to “discover” the work on view, or to leave without having uncovered aspects of the exhibition, which in turn generates many different experiences and recollections. In speaking to his line of inquiry the artist wrote;

The exhibition The Book of Knowledge takes its name from a renowned series of books first published in 1908. The Children’s Encyclopedia, as it was subtitled, was designed to “awaken in the child’s mind a lively interest in the great world around” him or her. It is in this spirit that I have attempted to evoke a similar case for wonder when creating this exhibition.

I created this exhibition thinking first of how to set up a mystery that requires unpacking within the terms of a gallery going experience and then how the spectator might endeavor to penetrate barriers and discover the work within the gallery. Taking cues from adventure movies like Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, The Goonies, Zardoz and others of the same ilk, the exhibition leaves clues for the gallery-goer and sets up a situation that allows the curious to uncover the content of the work for themselves. It is my hope that the exhibition will act as a portal away from the everyday perspective, and in favor of an experience that projects the viewer/participant into the role of the explorer and time traveler.

Although born and educated in Saskatoon, John Shelling was only recently repatriated to our city when offered the Editor position at BlackFlash magazine. ( Entirely by coincidence, the present exhibition at PAVED Arts was planned from before the time that Shelling took up his position with BlackFlash, although both activities are testament to his commitment to this community as a cultural worker and producer. Please join us for “The Book of Knowledge,” and prepare to delve into a mystery. Your first clue: “Book 4, p.1355. Follow the picture.”