Brian Jungen

For more than two decades, Brian Jungen (b. 1970, Fort St. John, British Columbia; lives/works: North Okanagan, British Columbia) has been lauded for his ability to transform everyday commercial products into a range of museological objects. His sculptures and installations imitate forms as large and as small as the skeleton of a whale in Cetology (2002), which is composed of plastic chairs, and Indigenous ceremonial objects, like masks produced from dissected and reconfigured Nike Air Jordan trainers. These works, such as the series Prototype for New Understanding (2005), address the issues of dispossession and appropriation latent in the aesthetics of contemporary global economic, political, and cultural conflict.

In 2015, Jungen made a new series of sculptures from Air Jordan trainers, which coincided with the 30-year anniversary of the product’s release. For this series, the artist used the same tools utilized in initial manufacture of these sneakers, such as a band saw, punches, rivets, drills, and an industrial sewing machine, but he employed techniques drawn from the history and vocabulary of many First Nations’ visual cultures. This approach yields sculptures far more abstract and expressionistic than his earlier series. In Warrior 2 (2018), for example, cross-sections of sneaker carved into feathers fan out from a central fulcrum, held together with deerskin and hide glue. The resulting, round form resembles a headdress, or more precisely, a Cheyenne-style war bonnet; this work was included in the Liverpool Biennial (2018).

Jungen is a graduate of the Emily Carr College of Art and Design. In 2002, he won the inaugural Sobey Art Award and the Gershon Iskowitz Prize in 2010.

A major solo survey exhibition was presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, in 2019. He has previously presented solo exhibitions at Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver (2018, 2016); Kunstverein Hannover (2013); Bonner Kunstverein (2013); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2011); National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC (2009); Museum Villa Stuck, Munich (2007); Tate Modern, London (2006); Vancouver Art Gallery (2006); Witte de With, Rotterdam (2006); New Museum, New York (2005). Modest Livelihood, a collaborative work with Duane Linklater, has been shown at the Edinburgh Art Festival (2014); the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2013); and the Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre, in collaboration with dOCUMENTA (13) (2012). Jungen’s work has been included in recent group exhibitions at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas (2018); Liverpool Biennial (2018); Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe (2017); National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2017, 2013); De Paul Art Museum, Chicago (2016); Vancouver Art Gallery (2016); and the 9th Shanghai Biennale (2012).