Demetrius Oliver: Canicular in the Philadelphia Inquirer, WHYY's Newsworks, and More

05 Mar 2014


Demetrius Oliver, Diurnal, 2014, eight-channel video on 32” flat screen monitors. Photo courtesy of The Print Center.

Demetrius Oliver: Canicular, the Center-funded exhibition at the Print Center, had its opening on January 10. The exhibition, which features limited gallery hours of 7–8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, boasts a live telescope projection of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. The exhibition has received media attention from the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, WHYY's Newsworks, The Huffington Post, Pennsylvania Gazette, and ArtDaily.

The projection of the star, which comes from a telescope located on the roof of the Franklin Institute, comes in real time, which is why the gallery has such limited hours during the run of the show. WHYY's Peter Crimmins spoke with curator John Caperton, who says that "there's a lot of humor in Oliver's work. It's very metaphorical. It can be ambiguous. He gives us clues, but he does not hold your hand." Read more >

Samantha Melamed of the Inquirer writes: "In previous works, Oliver has sent viewers outdoors to watch the night sky. But in this exhibition, he takes that celestial landscape and repackages it, jumbling mythology, astronomy, and pseudoscience. The result is a meditation on the Dog Star that calls on the belief held by many cultures that Sirius influences canine behavior—particularly during the 'dog days' of summer, when the star is visible in the daytime sky." Read more >

For the Daily News, Gabrielle Bonghi writes: "By abandoning the Print Center's usual 'print-based' criteria, the artist has assembled a video installation that projects a live-feed from a high-powered telescope focused on Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Thanks to the fine folks at the Franklin Institute, the feed will be coming directly from a telescope that is mounted a-top of the museum. The video feed from the telescope will be shown inside a large, round structure, built by Oliver, inside one of the gallery's rooms; which is meant to mimic the experience of a small observatory." Read more >

Daniel Gerwin of The Huffington Post explores the perceived inaccessibility of the exhibition: "Canicular pushes back against grandiosity and entitlement: we cannot hear the dog-whistle, we do not really experience his orrery, we must crawl into his observatory, and the entire exhibition is open only for an hour per day, and then only if weather conditions permit the telescope an adequate view of Sirius. Nature confronts us with the boundaries of human knowledge and power while calling us to push further into these frontiers." Read more >

Lesley Valdes of the Pennsylvania Gazette delves into Oliver's enigmatic nature with Print Center curator John Capteron: "'So many parts of this show seem as if we're trying to be difficult. With Demetrius, you're on your own. The work is not didactic, but it is ambiguous. He's not acting as an astronomer and he's not a re-enactor—more like an engaged or an enlightened citizen going to science and art.'" Read more >

ArtDaily writes, "The exhibition is a direct response to Caperton's request for Oliver to think as expansively as possible about what constitutes a print, and reflects the artist's longtime desire to create an installation requiring a radical shift in the typical functions of an organization and its gallery spaces." Read more >

In Philadelphia City Paper, Annette Monnier discusses the "otherworldly feeling" of the exhibition: "This intimate space must be crawled into on hands and knees. Inside is a wooden floor and a projection ceiling that screens a live video feed of Sirius A. The feed of the star is lovely and somewhat bewitching." Read more >