Today @ AK
Home > Exhibitions > Kelly Richardson: Legion

Kelly Richardson: Legion

Saturday, February 16–Sunday, June 9, 2013

Kelly Richardson (Canadian, born 1972). Detail of Exiles of the Shattered Star, 2006. High-definition video installation with audio. Running time: 29 minutes, 51 seconds. Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Harold Esty Jr., Sherman S. Jewett and The Gerald S. Elliott Funds, 2008. Image courtesy the artist and Birch Libralato, Toronto. © 2006 Kelly Richardson.

On View in the 1905 Albright Building and the Gallery for New Media

In her work, Kelly Richardson (Canadian, born 1972) explores the “hyper-real,” a notion that, due to our increased use of new media and forms of simulation, we can no longer distinguish the real from the constructed. Richardson is fascinated by the ways we connect with landscape; within her deeply layered practice, she draws on narrative devices used in science fiction and B-movie horror films, as well as nineteenth-century landscape painting, with particular interest in the apocalyptic conjurings of John Martin (British, 1789–1854). The results are complex cinematic installations that present us with seemingly “real” locations subtly doctored with technology, animation, and sound. These unsettling portals into otherworldly atmospheres lack any physical human presence, but suggest the residual effects mankind has had on the natural world. Hauntingly poignant in their post-apocalyptic beauty, Richardson’s installations are a resurrection of The Sublime—playing on our greatest fears through awe-inspiring visuals that offer us a rare glimpse into what the future may hold.

Kelly Richardson (Canadian, born 1972). Installation view of Mariner 9, 2012. Three-channel high-definition video installation with 5.1 audio. Running time: 20 minutes. Originally commissioned by Tyneside Cinema, UK. Image courtesy the artist and Birch Libralato. Photograph by Colin Davison.

Kelly Richardson: Legion is a major mid-career survey exhibition that takes an extensive look at Richardson’s audio-visual installation works of the past fifteen years. The project, initiated by curator Alistair Robinson, debuted at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland, England, on July 5, 2012, coinciding with the premiere of Mariner 9, 2012, a major new three-channel video installation commissioned by the Pixel Palace at Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle, England. The exhibition, now on view at the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool, England (October 13, 2012–January 5, 2013), will travel to the Towner in Eastbourne, England (January 19–March 31, 2013); the Albright-Knox in Buffalo (February 15–June 9, 2013); and the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver (late 2013–early 2014). A major catalogue co-published by the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and SAAG (Southern Alberta Art Gallery), with essays by Robinson, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Associate Curator Kelly Gordon, and Albright-Knox Curator for the Collection Holly E. Hughes, will be available in January 2013.

Kelly Richardson (Canadian, born 1972). Installation view of The Erudition, 2010. Three-screen, high-definition video installation with audio. Running time: 20 minutes. Supported by SAAG. Image courtesy the artist and Birch Libralato. Photograph by Colin Davison.

Organized by Hughes, the Albright-Knox’s version of the exhibition will be the largest and most comprehensive presentation of Richardson’s work on the tour and to date. The Gallery currently holds the most works by the artist in a museum, having acquired three of her video installations since 2008. Featuring approximately fifteen works by the artist spanning the entirety of her career, the exhibition at the Gallery will also serve as the United States debut for Mariner 9, 2012, which has received accolades and critical acclaim since its initial presentation in Whitley Bay, England, earlier this year. Educational programming—including a science fiction film festival curated by Hughes with the artist—will accompany the exhibition.

This exhibition is organized by Alistair Robinson and Albright-Knox Curator for the Collection Holly E. Hughes.

This exhibition has been made possible, in part, through the generous support of Arts Council England and Canada Council for the Arts. The presentation in Buffalo is made possible, in part, by Mark McCain and Caro MacDonald, The Advantage Company, and ArtAV.


Gallery admission is required to view this special exhibition on M&T FIRST FRIDAYS @ THE GALLERY

About the Artist

Kelly Richardson was born in Burlington, Ontario, in 1972. She studied fine and media arts, receiving a BFA from the Ontario College of Art & Design and MFA degrees from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and Newcastle University. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including in the Sundance Film Festival in 2009 and 2011, the first Beijing 798 Biennale in 2009, the Busan Biennale in 2008, Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal in 2008, and the Gwangju Biennale in 2004. In addition to being represented by three major works in the Albright-Knox’s Collection, Richardson has works in the collections of such major museums as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto; and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax. She has participated in various artist residencies—including Artpace in San Antonio, Texas—and has received numerous honors, including an invitation to be the featured artist at the Americans for the Arts National Arts Awards in 2009. The fall 2009 issue of Canadian Art included Richardson as one of “10 Artists Setting the Pace of Contemporary Art” and Elle Canada listed her in its “Hot 100” for 2011. Most recently, in 2012, Richardson was awarded two grants from the Arts Council England and the Canada Council for the Arts, and The Journal Culture Awards has shortlisted her as one of three artists nominated for “Visual Artist of the Year.” Richardson currently lives and works in northeast England. 

Related Events

Members' Receptions
Friday, February 15, 2013, 5–7 pm
Thursday, February 21, 2013, 5–7 pm

Art’scool Educators’ Workshop: Winter Light Therapy
Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 10 am–1 pm

Science Fiction Film Festival
Friday, March 1, 2013, noon–9:30 pm

Related Publication

The Last Frontier: Kelly Richardson

Related Features 

No, really—the sky is falling! (AK Tumblr)

There is a first time for everything (AK Tumblr)

Beauty is in the ear of the beholder (AK Tumblr)

. . . And we danced by the light of the moon (AK Tumblr)

What EEZ IT, man? (AK Tumblr)

Is it me, or is this room spinning? (AK Tumblr)

Spotlight on Kelly Richardson (AK Tumblr)

Captured: Planning for Upcoming Kelly Richardson Exhibition

Related News

Kelly Richardson’s ‘Legion’ sends a distress signal from the future (The Buffalo News)

Five things I think I think: Albright-Knox edition (Modern Art Notes)

The Modern Art Notes Podcast: Shirin Neshat and Kelly Richardson (Modern Art Notes)

Kelly Richardson Talks Sci-Fi Futures, Life on Mars and Mariner 9 (Canadian Art)

Kelly Richardson: Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art/Spanish City Dome Review (Artforum)

Related Lesson Plan

Experiencing Video Art (For Grades 6–12)



  • Video by Ian Fenton, Northern Stars