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Top 10 visual arts happenings of 2015 

Relive these great moments in Halifax art.

click to enlarge Eleanor King's Dark Utopia, Lisa Lipton's Hoop Dreams and Patrick Traer's A Survey. - KRISTA COMEAU, KARLA GRIFFIN
  • Eleanor King's Dark Utopia, Lisa Lipton's Hoop Dreams and Patrick Traer's A Survey.

Lisa Lipton, Hoop Dreams
For some, the highlight of Nocturne was sitting on Citadel High's bleachers buzzed out of our minds watching basketball. But not just any basketball game—Lipton staged a championship series between three fictional teams, bringing together many talented locals to create a multi-disciplinary performance piece, lulling viewers into a trance-like state with rhythmic, choreographed drumming.

Bridget Moser, Is This Thing On?
I can't look at my neck pillow the same way after seeing Bridget Moser's short film Memory Foam. Shot at MSVU Art Gallery for her exhibition Is This Thing On?, Moser breathes strange new life into ergonomic objects purchased on eBay. By elevating these consumer goods to the status of art objects, she provides a satirical take on the art world itself—and she's funny too.

The Khyber's new Hollis Street location
It was super-exciting when the Khyber Centre for the Arts opened its doors last month at 1880 Hollis with Equipment, a show by Kyle Alden Martens that explored the connections and barriers to connection that exist in our relationships with ourselves and one another. It just feels right to have the Khyber back downtown again, even if it's in the former Christmas By the Sea space and not the old Barrington building digs.

Patrick Traer, A Survey
It was impossible not to look at many of Patrick Traer's sculptures at SMU Art Gallery this summer without conjuring the thought of an enormous, pendulous pair of testicles. Made of vinyl best suited to a car interior or drug dealer's couch, these works required a double-take. Traer explores our own relationship to the body and sexuality while cleverly challenging our perceptions of masculinity.

Exhibitions by Thierry Delva and Paulette Phillips
A double whammy from Dalhousie Art Gallery, exploring the relationships between the body and machines. Thierry Delva's series of "reproductions" of works by old masters found an unexpected new purpose for an electrocardiogram machine, while Paulette Phillips convinced several "volunteers" to hook themselves up to a lie detector and become pawns in an unconventional social experiment.

Eleanor King, Dark Utopian
Who can forget the time Eleanor King transformed the fourth floor of the AGNS into a vertigo-inducing aquatic-themed dreamland? King covered the walls with wild patterns inspired by "dazzle camouflage," used on war ships during World War I to confuse approaching vessels, seamlessly fusing feelings of youthful idealism and nihilism, negotiating an unexpected truce between the two.

Matthew Samways, House of Laws
Matthew Samways' new EP House of Laws is a warped sensory experience bottling golden moments in Halifax history. Recorded partly in the historic Barrington Street building that once housed the Khyber Centre for the Arts, you can hear Samways' dark atmospheric music reverberating off those familiar vaulted ceilings where so many Haligonians grew up and got sloppy together.

The last Art Gallery of NS Sobey Art Award
The Sobey is moving to the National Gallery, but our last local installation of the competition was a good one. I found myself sinking into the beanbag cushions in Jon Ruffian's installation, a hypnotic virtual world I didn't want to leave. Sarah Anne Johnson's Hospital Hallway still haunts me; she skillfully distilled the claustrophobic, sterile feeling of being institutionalized.

Sarah Cale, Good tangled up like hair in evil
Every summer, the Anna Leonowens Gallery brings in a talented roster of visiting artists, and Sarah Cale was this year's highlight. The artist revels in the materiality of her media, violently ripping up painted canvases and reconstructing the pieces into new formations. Her wild fusion of collage and painting reflects on the history of abstraction while playfully toppling traditional conventions.

From the Vault: The Oldest Patient
As a huge Egyptology nerd who daydreams about excavating ancient tombs, I was thrilled when Dal curator Michele Gallant unearthed a mummified head from the vault—AKA "the oldest patient"—and let me hold it. She began a fascinating quest to find out more about the life of this mysterious stranger.


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