Object Lessons

Anna Gustafson

February 3—August 9, 2020

Presented at the Esker Foundation Project Space (1011 9 Ave SE) in partnership with Esker Foundation.

Artist Talk / Friday, February 7 at 6:30PM at Esker Foundation, find out more and please register here.

Artist Workshop / Saturday, February 8 from 1 to 4PM, find out more and please register here.

Exhibition Description /

As we deplete the earth’s resources to manufacture and power consumer products, we destroy ecosystems. When such objects are deemed obsolete, these pieces of our contemporary material culture are consigned to landfills and further continue the sequence of ecological devastation.

In response to the destructive cycle of late capitalist consumer culture, Anna Gustafson began enshrouding discarded appliances in old, white linen; a manner historically used by many cultures to prepare the dead for burial. Intrigued by this ritual, the material problem solving, the physical, repetitive labour involved, and of course, the enveloped object’s transformation, Gustafson came to understand this process as a way to individuate each item, and to honour the destruction necessary to
make and power them.

Beginning with nearly any small abandoned appliance she could find—in particular kitchenware, including kettles, toasters, pots, and irons—Gustafson’s focus soon shifted to encompass objects that might resonate more strongly and universally upon contemporary, common ground: consumer electronics such as remote controls, entertainment electronics, and film and slide projectors. By enshrouding these ubiquitous items, Gustafson’s work extends a broad address to those that hold the decision-making power behind the destruction of our natural world.

For this installation of Object Lessons, Gustafson includes the ubiquitous leaf blower. Once disruptors in our neighbourhoods, they now float mutely through their new context of decommissioned remote controls.

Call to Community /

As part of this exhibition Gustafson has made a call out to the community for contributions to the ongoing Object Lessons project by donating items that will be enshrouded. Gustafson is currently collecting remote controls, film and slide projectors, film cans, slide carousels, flashlights, along with white cotton and linen fabric for shrouding. Donations can be brought to The New Gallery from February 3 to April 19, 2020.


Anna Gustafson was conceived in Guatemala to an Italian/Guatemalan mother and Swedish father. She was born in Sweden and raised in Vancouver. Gustafson’s view throughout her lifetime has benefited from being nurtured in a multi-cultural family within an immigrant perspective. An important premise of her work is that we best remember information and events through our senses and associated emotions. With a strong sensory component, her work encourages each viewer to develop their own emotional responses and fully absorb the information presented. Her artistic practice combines a spare aesthetic with a sincere use of materials, and rigorous methodology to create narratives that resonate with the synergy between idea, material, and technique. She chooses to work with a limited palette and a restricted vocabulary of natural materials and found objects. She is an honours graduate of Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art + Design.) Gustafson has shown in public galleries since 1974.

Territorial Acknowledgments

TNG gratefully acknowledges its home on the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region, including the Blackfoot Confederacy (Kainai, Piikani and Siksika), Métis Nation of Alberta Region III, Stoney Nakoda First Nation (Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley), and Tsuu T’ina First Nation. TNG would also like to acknowledge the many other First Nations, Métis and Inuit who have crossed this land for generations.

The New Gallery would like to thank Esker Foundation for their support of this exhibition.

Anna Gustafson would like to recognize that her residency at MASS MoCA, where much of this work was created, was generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.