Beginning with the Seventies
Ruins in Process: Vancouver Art in the Sixties

Subscribe to our mailing list
Site Search:


  1. Mario García Torres, I Promise Every Time (Blue Horizon, Vancouver), 2011 [detail]. 35 mm slides.

  2. Konrad Wendt, Mom, I tore a hole in the new convertible top, 1984. Silver gelatin print, 7.6 x 10.2 cm.

Material Witness

Mario García Torres / Konrad Wendt

Curated by Lee Plested

June 24 - August 21, 2011

Reception Thursday, June 23, 8 - 10 pm

Performance by Konrad Wendt
Rose Garden, UBC
Saturday, June 25, 12 - 2 pm

Saturday, June 25, 1 - 6 pm

Symposium >read more

Material Witness: Mario García Torres / Konrad Wendt is an exhibition of recent work by Mexican artist Mario García Torres who is known for his investigations of historic pieces of Conceptual Art, and a survey of works by Konrad Wendt, a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD).

As much of the drive of Conceptual Art was to challenge the commodification and material aspects of art, many works were set up to disappear. García Torres’ process involves researching influential and sometimes unknowable projects, such as What Happens in Halifax, Stays in Halifax (2004–06), and 9 at Leo Castelli (2008- ), gathering various documents from artists, historians and archives, teasing out conceptual proposals and mythologies, tracing misinformation and competing views about the works of art and what took place. He pays particular attention to the social aspects of art—the primary sites where ideas were transmitted, and he uncovers information by interviewing the prime suspects and their various associates at the scene. García Torres met Konrad Wendt in 2004 during research for the project What Happens in Halifax, Stays in Halifax (2004–06). Included in the exhibition, this investigative, 35 mm slide show revisits an instructional piece by Robert Barry, in which Wendt participated as a student at NSCAD in 1969. For the class project, students were instructed to arrive at a consensus on a work of Conceptual Art, which if ever described to an outside person or realized in form, would cease to exist.

Included in the exhibition is a retrospective survey of Wendt’s relatively unknown artworks. One of the few students to have a solo exhibition (1970) at the Mezzanine, a facility for the presentation of conceptual art at NSCAD, Wendt moved to a commune on Prince Edward Island after graduation and followed another path, pursuing his personal interests rather than becoming a professional artist. This mini retrospective of works from 1968 to the present demonstrates the philosophical and formal strategies he absorbed while at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

The work of the two artists are presented in contrasting exhibition styles: one is steeped in didactic material (Wendt’s includes explanatory text prepared by his son and Art Historian Pan Wendt, Curator at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, Charlottetown) while the other questions the status of contemporary art exhibitions (García Torres’ section brings archival materials into dialogue with his own investigative art projects).

Material Witness: Mario García Torres / Konrad Wendt presents multiple practices to establish a dialogue through the record of various gestures, gathering examples of works that were alternately caught in the light of and/or slipped past the selective gaze of art history. To complement García Torres’ investigation, the exhibition includes documents, ephemera, and original works of art from Vancouver-based archives. A series of vignettes brackets the larger exhibition to further picture the influence of conceptual strategies from 1968-74, tracing little known aesthetic projects from the time. Included is work by: Duane Lunden, selected by Charlotte Townsend-Gault, the Director of the Mezzanine from 1970-74; projects by the Vancouver/Halifax Exchange featuring Glenn Lewis, Image Bank, Carole Itter and Roy Kiyooka; Vancouver conceptualist John Mitchell; N.E. Thing Co.; Martha Wilson; and important early works by Ian Wallace.

Artists’ Biographies
[+] Mario García Torres

[+] Konrad Wendt

In conjunction with the exhibition, a symposium organized by Ian Wallace will bring scholarly interpretation to this elusive history. The symposium will be documented and included as a supplemental archive.

Presenters include:
– Manuel Cirauqui, Independent Curator and Critic, New York/Valencia
– Mario García Torres, Artist, Mexico City
– Constance Lewallen, Adjunct Curator, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
– Shepherd Steiner, Art Historian, Vancouver
– Lee Plested, Exhibition Curator San Francisco/Vancouver
– Ian Wallace, Artist, Vancouver and
– Pan Wendt, Curator, Confederation Centre Art Gallery, Charlottetown.

This project is made possible with funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of Nova Scotia through the Department of Communities, Culture & Heritage, and our Belkin Curator’s Forum members. The symposium is supported by the UBC Curatorial Lecture Series which is funded by the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, the Museum of Anthropology, the Department of Anthropology, and the Faculty of Arts.

>> Click here to download the exhibition handout [PDF 313 KB]


The following comments have been entered at a kiosk available to visitors to the gallery. Only the 10 most recent comments are shown, see more on the comments page.

For further information please contact: Jana Tyner at,
tel: (604) 822-1389, or fax: (604) 822-6689