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UTOPIA FACTORY is a research and exhibition project that engages in larger discourses about the conceptualization of communities and their landmarks from a historic and contemporary perspective and encourages accessible dialogue with a broad range of publics on issues of nationalism, state-making, inclusion, and belonging at a critical juncture in Calgary’s urbanization and planning for a new public art gallery.

The project will investigate how state-building relates to city-building, while tracing how architecture and monuments inform memory, community-building and representations of nationhood. UTOPIA FACTORY also addresses the complexity of forming designated creative and cultural zones and civic-planning, while offering new forms or urban vitality.
UTOPIA FACTORY is comprised of three parts:

  1. When Form Becomes Attitude, curated by Noa Bronstein
  2. Research Station, curated by Lisa Baldissera and Nate McLeod
  3. Architecture and National Identity: The Centennial Projects 50 Years On, curated by Marco Polo & Colin Ripley

When Form Becomes Attitude
Curated by Noa Bronstein (Toronto, ON)
Main & Tall Gallery, March 16 – July 30, 2016
What is the political life of a building, place or historic marker? When Form Becomes Attitude points towards this question in considering the role of monuments or concepts around monumentality in constructing cities, nations and ideologies. Featuring artworks by Maria Flawia LitwinBear WitnessKotama BouabaneMorehshin AllahyariChristian JankowskiIsabelle Hayeur, Babak Golkar, and Shelagh Keeley the exhibition reflects on the negotiated intersections of design and power in which monuments are materialized. When Form Becomes Attitude also emphasizes how state-building relates to city-building, while tracing how monuments speak to the mechanisms of architectural memory. In many contexts, monuments are constructed representations of nationalism and political posturing. The artworks in this exhibition, however, raise further questions around how monuments can serve as architectural or materialized devices of resistance, performance and subversion.
When Form Becomes Attitude further addresses ideas around posterity in our built environment and how a nation’s official representation of itself, in the case of state sponsored monuments, prompts larger negotiations surrounding the rendering of nationalism. Equally, or perhaps more importantly, the artists within this exhibition carefully mine around and between these official renderings as a way to consider the speculative use or abuse of monuments as agents of power, politicking, gentrification, geopolitics and globalization.
Research Station
Curated by Lisa Baldissera and Nate McLeod
Mezzanine Gallery & Lobby, March 16 – July 30, 2017
Research Station is a two-part project that features existing and research-based work by Mark Clintberg (Calgary, AB) and Nils Norman (London, UK), respectively, as they each develop new projects for the future home of Contemporary Calgary: the Centennial Planetarium. Two stages of the project will demonstrate the artists’ research and plans as they evolve, with the first opening on March 16th, 2017 (in conjunction with the reception for When Form Becomes Attitude), and the second opening on May 4th, 2017 (in conjunction with the reception for Architecture and National Identity).
Mark Clintberg’s existing work, Not over you will be exhibited on the façade of our current venue for the duration of UTOPIA FACTORY, offering a heartfelt, romantic nod to the building as we host our final exhibition here. In the lobby, research and plans for a new public work titled Over you, will act as a continuation of the existing work, while signaling the transition from our current venue on Stephen Avenue to our future venue in the Centennial Planetarium. A printed multiple on the relation between the two works will also be available free to visitors.
Nils Norman works across the disciplines of public art, architecture and urban planning. His projects challenge notions of the function of public art and the efficacy of mainstream urban planning and large-scale regeneration. Following a research trip to Calgary in January of 2017, Norman will develop an installation-based work for the Mezzanine Gallery at Contemporary Calgary, revealing his research into the history and architecture of the Centennial Planetarium while ultimately informing a future public work to be developed for the site.
Architecture and National Identity: The Centennial Projects 50 Years On
Curated by Marco Polo & Colin Ripley
Top Gallery, May 4 – July 30, 2017
The Centennial Projects are a series of major works of architecture resulting from several federal government programs leading up to the Centennial of Confederation in 1967. The ambitions of these programs, which amounted to a gigantic public building campaign, went beyond the strictly utilitarian, aiming to uncover and give form to the identity of a modern nation entering its second century of existence.
Between 1964 and 1970, the Centennial Grants Program and the Centennial Memorial Program provided funding for over 2,300 projects across the country, including some 860 buildings, many of which are important landmarks in their communities; several are important works within the development of Canadian modern architecture. In this exhibition, we present 21 of the most important of the buildings to emerge from the Centennial programs. These are organized loosely into three themes: Building the New; Brutalism and Landscape; and National Identity and Regional Difference.
All the buildings presented, from the National Arts Centre in Ottawa to the UFO Landing Pad in St. Paul, Alberta, are important documents of this particular moment in Canadian life and culture. The Centennial Projects, in the youthfulness and vigour of their design, matched well to the youthfulness, vigour, and optimism of Canada in the 1960s. Now, 50 years on, it is time to re-examine this remarkable moment in Canadian architecture.

Organized and circulated by Confederation Centre Art Gallery, Charlottetown, with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. 

Exhibition sponsored by:


 Image Credit: Nils Norman, Happy Birthday Canada, Many Happy Returns: the Self-Obsoleting, Ancient Recycling Machine, the Antediluvian Ecosophic Organism - the Calgary Centennial Planetarium, 2017.

Earlier Event: March 16