Barbara Astman - Dancing with Ché: Enter Through the Library

Barbara Astman (Canadian, b. 1950)
dancing with ché triptych #17
giclée print on paper
Ht: 90 x Wi: 88.9 cm
© Barbara Astman, 2002.
Image courtesy: Corkin Gallery, Toronto.

Yellow Box Gallery
April 28 – June 30, 2016

Dancing with Ché: Enter Through the Library is an exhibition that features five recent works by Barbara Astman from the permanent collection of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

Three of the works in this exhibition are from Barbara Astman’s Dancing with Ché series, one of her most popular recent artistic endeavors. She began this series in the early 2000s after returning from Cuba, where she was struck by the proliferation of imagery depicting the 20th century revolutionary Ché Guevara. In Cuba and abroad, the emblematic portrait of Ché Guevara has often been appropriated by various people and groups as a symbol of extreme political identification and rebellion. In Dancing with Ché, Astman explores the multifaceted issue of the appropriation and commodification of political imagery.

This exhibition also includes two important works from 2006’s The Newspaper Series. Like many of us, Barbara Astman’s morning routine involves sitting down and reading the newspaper, a custom that is easily taken for granted. But, with so much information being controlled, what influence do mass media and communications have on our everyday life, and society more generally? From afar, Barbara Astman’s photographs of newspaper sequences appear random and oddly resemble strains of human DNA. Upon closer examination, however, it becomes clear that Astman has purposefully arranged the newspapers to reveal headlines of elation, tragedy, scandal, political instability, and local frenzy.

Born in Rochester, New York in 1950, Astman studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology and later moved to Toronto to study at the Ontario College of Art and Design, where she has taught since 1975. For more than 35 years Barbara Astman has been active as an artist in photo-based media, sculpture, and public art commissions and is considered to be one of the foremost leading artists in Canada. Astman’s work can be found in countless major public institutions worldwide including the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.