The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first solo exhibition in Canada by French artist Aurélien Froment, comprising an ambitious body of newly commissioned work.
Froment has produced an exhibition which focuses on the series of educational toys (Spielgaben or play gifts) designed by Friedrich Fröbel (1782–1852), the German founder of the original Kindergarten. Froment’s longstanding interest in Fröbel was aroused by the openness of the system of objects he devised, which has paradoxically resulted in both their survival and disappearance. For Froment as for Fröbel, each shape begets another, each form foreshadows a second; all images are keys to other images. Replicas have been produced based on historical artifacts, presenting for the first time in an exhibition, the play gifts in the complete sequence as imagined by their author. The objects are presented alongside an ensemble of photographs, which map Fröbel’s pedagogy, while drawing connections with earlier, as well as future uses of the geometric grid. Fröbel Fröbeled is therefore an exhibition on Fröbel, with Fröbel — an exploration of his art, as well as a reflection on what lies beneath his system of objects.
Drawing on the ideas of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the experiences of Swiss pedagogue Johan Pestalozzi, Fröbel advocated for a practice of education where the child and the teacher are co-workers, with play and self-activity at the center of the learning process. To this end Fröbel introduced activities such as singing, dancing, gardening, map making and created a series of educational toys, the play gifts. He brought together existing children’s toys (wooden blocks, woollen balls, sticks), stripped of any signs suggesting pre-determined educational purposes such as letters, numbers, figures or colours and sequenced these within an overarching system of relationships in which each toy foreshadows the next while being transformed. A soft woollen ball turns into a hard wooden sphere; a sphere into a cube via a cylinder; a cube is divided into smaller cubes and so on, until volumes become surfaces, surfaces become lines and lines are segmented towards infinity. Continuity and opposition systematically order the world of Fröbel’s gifts. Since the mid-nineteenth century, many educationalists and manufacturers appropriated the influential Kindergarten material and while establishing it as a prominent feature of modernity, the consistency of Fröbel’s ideal was slowly diluted, lost or abandoned.
Throughout his career, Fröbel continually refined his play gifts to achieve the greatest scope through their different forms, relations and applications. They constitute a modest but complex body of works, used for object lessons and often accompanied by analogies and stories, something tangible to enhance the understanding of something conceptual.
Individual sets comprised balls, blocks, sticks, paper folding and weaving, peas and clay. From simple geometrical shapes could appear a chair, a worker’s house, a train, a ruin or a flower, as well as introducing abstract notions such as unity and interconnectedness. Each gift would be used in short sessions of directed play. Collector and scholar Norman Brosterman states in his seminal book Inventing Kindergarten, that “unlike the building blocks, mosaic toys, and traditional crafts that were their forebears, the gifts were never available for entirely ‘free play’. Their use was always related to the three realms: forms of nature (or life), forms of knowledge (or geometry, mathematics and science) and forms of beauty (or art).” The potential of each toy and its associated applications were therefore multiplied according to their ability to represent, demonstrate or to be arranged in a pleasing way.
In the exhibition, each gift is also used and depicted by Froment in a number of different ways. To the three realms proposed by Fröbel — nature, knowledge and beauty — Froment suggests to add two others — cultural forms and material forms — revealing aspects of the gifts’ own history while reflecting on its mediation within a contemporary public art gallery. In some of the accompanying photographs, the gifts are staged based on engravings featured in Fröbel’s own manuals and literature that followed. Representing a throne, a church, a castle, a cross or a sentry box, the photographs draw the imaginary atlas of an archetypal world rooted in the nineteenth century. Whether photographed by Froment like diagrams, models, products or architecture, they perform, alongside their related toy, some of the instructions provided in the early handbooks while potentially becoming again loose instructions themselves. Divorced from their original publication context and captions, freed from their layout, the constellation of images in the exhibition unfolds as another gift.
If the first series of photographs notionally illustrate uses of the play gifts while mapping a model world, other predominantly small-scale images relate more specifically to the biography of the German pedagogue. Fröbel lived and worked close to his birthplace in Thuringia, central Germany. He founded his first institution for early childhood education in 1837 in the small town of Bad Blankenburg where two years later, he coined the term ‘Kindergarten’. Juxtaposed with the graphic educational material, this series of views of the countryside near Jena (the former East Germany near the Czech Republic border) show a reality without clear narrative, yet situates geographically, socially and culturally the genesis of Fröbel’s project. Through this Froment implies a complex relationship between the objects, images, ideas, places and us as audience. The work becomes the vehicle to draw our attention to changed contexts and so perceptions shift. We contemplate ideas not in a void but think while practising.
Alongside the exhibition in Vancouver, the CAG is working in partnership with DIM Cinema at The Cinematheque to present Interludes: Aurélien Froment. Complementing the exhibition, the films selected by Froment often use the format of instructional videos. Taking place on January 20, 2014 at 7.30 pm, works to be screened include The Apse, the Bell and the Antelope (2005); Pulmo Marina (2010); Théâtre de poche (2007); Fourdrinier Machine Interlude (2010); Camillo’s Idea (2012).
The exhibition is made in collaboration with Villa Arson, Nice, France; Spike Island, Bristol, UK; Frac Île de France — Le Plateau, Paris, France; Heidelberger Kunstverein, Germany. A publication will be developed in 2015 bringing together this new commission and the various presentations in the exhibition tour.
Research toward the production of this work is funded by a grant from programme ‘Hors les murs’ 2011 of the Institut Français. The exhibition is supported by the Consulat Général de France à Vancouver and Institut Français.
Born in 1976 in Angers, France, Aurélien Froment lives and works in Dublin. Solo exhibitions by Froment have been presented at Le Credac, Ivry-sur-Seine; Musée départemental de Rochechouart; Centre culturel français, Milan; Marcelle Alix, Paris; CCA Wattis, San Francisco; Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz; Bonniers Konsthalle project room, Stockholm; The Physics Room, Christchurch; Motive Gallery, Amsterdam; Frac Champagne-Ardenne, Reims; Module du Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Project Arts Centre, Dublin and Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers.
Group exhibitions include The Encyclopedic Palace, 55th Biennale di Venezia; Curiosity, Turner Contemporary, Margate; Mind is Outer Space, Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York, (2013); Descriptive Acts, SF MoMa, San Francisco; Tactics for the Here and Now, Bucarest Biennale 5; In the Holocene, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge; Hapax Legomena, Mercer Union, Toronto (2012); A Terrible Beauty is Born, Biennale de Lyon; Our Magic Hour, Yokohama Triennale; Dystopia, CAPC, Bordeaux (2011); 2 1/2 Dimensional, deSingel, Antwerp; 10,000 Lives, Gwangju Biennale; Art Parcours, Basel (2010); Paper Exhibition, Artist Space, New York; From the Gathering, Helen Pitt Gallery, Vancouver; The Space of Words, Mudam, Luxembourg (2009); The Way in which it Landed, Tate Britain, London; Word Event, Kunsthalle Basel; The Great Transformation, Frankfurter Kunstverein; Inaugural festival, Nam June Paik Center, Seoul (2008).
Froment is represented by Marcelle Alix, Paris
The Contemporary Art Gallery presents an ambitious new neon commission across our building façade with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, as part of a larger partnership of presentations, performances and events with British artist Tim Etchells. Arguably best known for his work with Forced Entertainment, Etchells has developed his own practice as an artist outside of their ground-breaking performances, his solo work is diverse, moving from a base in performance into visual art and fiction. Through writing, producing neon, video and text, collaborations with the photographer Hugo Glendinning on photographic work, and performance projects with an ever-expanding group of artists from around the world, including Franko B and Vlatka Horvat, Etchells opens up new possibilities to approach related ideas via different routes by working across these different media and contexts.
In all aspects of his practice Etchells is often concerned with live-ness and presence, with the unfolding of events in time and place. The site where things happen could be an LCD monitor or a computer screen, a stage, the space of a page, a gallery, a found location, a street, or some private space — a room or a car for instance — in which a person might listen to the radio or read a text. Who Knows is typical of Etchells’ approach in that something happens — there is an encounter, a process, the unfolding of an event and its implications, and an exploration of the dynamic relationship between the work and the viewer. Who Knows reveals a fascination with rules and systems in language and in culture, in the way these structures are both productive and constraining. Individual phrases of ‘I know’, ‘You know’, ‘We know’, ‘They know’, produces a playfully paranoid flavour, yet a tone that takes on something of the surveillance, snooping, watching topic, that’s even more on our minds since the information leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in May of last year. Through the repetition of phrases, the text stages or implies an event or an idea that is at once unravelled and assembled. The mechanisms and economies of this process — of exposure and concealment, construction and deconstruction, appearance and disappearance — are at the heart of what Etchells does.
In addition to this installation we co-present a series of performances — The Quiet Volume with Ant Hampton and Sight Is The Sense That Dying People Tend To Lose First with Jim Fletcher — and public talks involving Etchells detailed elsewhere in this bulletin. Collectively these form our hosting of Tim Etchells as PuSh Festival 2014 artist-in-residence. Presented in partnership with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, Vancouver.
Born in 1962, Tim Etchells is based in Sheffield and London, UK and is the artistic director of Forced Entertainment, a theatre company founded in 1984. With Forced Entertainment he has directed, written, and occasionally performed in, dozens of critically acclaimed performance works that have been shown at major festivals and theatres around the world.
Recent solo exhibitions include Sketch and Butchers (both London); Netherlands Media Art Institute and de Appel, Amsterdam; Void Spaces, Site Gallery, Sheffield; Sparwasser HQ, Berlin; Art Sheffield 2008; ArtFutures, Bloomberg SPACE, London; Exit Art, New York; Kunsthaus Graz; Manifesta 7, Rovereto, Italy; Acts of Voicing, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart; Aichi Triennale, Aichi Arts Center, Nagoya and Lonely at the Top: Modern Dialect, MuHKA, Antwerp. Etchells co-curated and commissioned work in the Performing Sculpture section of the DLA Piper series This is Sculpture at Tate Liverpool (2009) and took part in the Gothenburg International Biennale, What a Wonderful World; After Architecture, CASM, Arts Santa Mònica, Barcelona and The Malady of Writing, MACBA, Barcelona in 2009. His books include a critical exploration of contemporary performance and theatre as well as an introduction to his work with Forced Entertainment titled Certain Fragments (Routledge, 1999), a book of short stories, Endland Stories (Pulp Books, 1998), an ironic dream dictionary, The Dream Dictionary for the Modern Dreamer (Duckworth, 2004), and a novel titled The Broken World (Windmill, 2009).MORE
Upcoming at the Field House
Upcoming at the Field House
Broken City Lab
January to April, 2014
Broken City Lab is an artist-led collective that works through collaborative social practice and creative research to understand the ways in which locality is shaped and enacted in the city. Taking the form of events, workshops, installations, and interventions, their projects aim to connect various disciplines and critique, annotate and re-imagine the cities that they encounter, and have unfolded in collaboration with numerous organizations and institutions. They currently operate CIVIC Space in downtown Windsor, Ontario, a 24-month long project exploring the intersection of art and civic life. As part of the Field House Studio Residency members will embark on site-specific research towards a new project that explores and makes visible issues at the intersection of education, public space and civic life. This new project will develop a sequence of programming that circulates in and around the Burrard Marina Field House.
Broken City Lab’s work recently appeared in the th International Venice Biennial of Architecture as part of the Grounds for Detroit exhibit and the collective was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award. Previous projects have included working with the City of Windsor’s Transit Authority to install community-created text-based art in its buses; interactive outdoor projections detailing hundreds of ideas for saving the city; the design and distribution of removable micro-gardens; interactive text-based performance soware; large-scale messages projected across an international border; artists hosted for an interdisciplinary storefront residency project; a foot long message painted on a parking lot visible from planes and satellites; and leading numerous psycho-geographic walks, DIY workshops and community brainstorming sessions in cities all
For this residency, we gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the BC Creative
Communities Award and the generosity of many private and individual donations. The Field House Studio Residency Program is generously supported by the Vancouver Park Board and the City of Vancouver. Broken City Lab acknowledges support from Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, City of Windsor and Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Broken City Lab
Saturday, February 15 , 2pm
The Field House Studio at Burrard Marina
In partnership with SFU Philosophers Café, Broken City Lab will
host an artist talk and discussion at the Burrard Marina Field
Marie Lorenz – visit and upcoming 2014 project
This December 2013, Marie Lorenz will visit Vancouver to begin research for a project to be completed in May 2014 at the Burrard Marina Field House.
Marie Lorenz’s work combines psycho-geographic exploration with highly crafted, material forms. In her ongoing project The Tide and Current Taxi, (http://www.tideandcurrenttaxi.org/) Lorenz ferries people on the East and Hudson Rivers surrounding New York City in a boat she has specially made. Lorenz studies tidal charts of the New York Harbor and uses river currents to direct and drift the boat throughout the waterways of the City. The act of floating adds a specific presence to one’s own observation: the viewer maintains an awareness of their own balance and form as they absorb the details in their surroundings. This kind of observation creates something new out of something familiar. For Vancouver Lorenz will begin to develop ideas and discussion toward constructing a new vessel and mapping local waterways in which the community will play an important role as participants.
Previously at the Field House
Canadian artist Raymond Boisjoly was our inaugural resident artist at the Burrard Marina Field House Studio. For six months Boisjoly occupied the Field House, using it as a studio and a place for community engagement.
Please see the related blog posts on the right for more news about his residency at the Field House. Click here for the CAG Field House Blog
The Field House Studio is an off-site artist residency space and community hub organized by the Contemporary Art Gallery. This initiative seeks to support artists whose practice moves beyond conventional exhibition making, echoing the founding origins of the gallery where artists were offered support toward the production of new work. Our goal in presenting art outside of the boundaries of our exhibition spaces is to reach out to communities, offering new ways for individuals to encounter and connect with art and artists, expanding audiences as well as strengthening our commitment to nurturing artists through example, context and commissioning.
Running parallel to the residency program is an ongoing series of public events for all ages.
Speaker Series: Artists in Public
This summer the CAG launched a new series inviting creative and cultural producers to share their theories, thoughts, and experiences of developing projects in the public realm.
Justin A. Langlois
Saturday, August 17, 4pm
Field House Studio at Burrard Marina
Langlois discussed his work as co-founder and research director of Broken City Lab, an artist-led interdisciplinary creative research collective and non-profit organization working to explore locality, infrastructures and creative practice leading towards civic change. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Windsor. In the fall of 2013, he will join the Faculty of Culture + Community at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
Zoe Kreye and Catherine Grau
Saturday, June 22, 4pm
Field House Studio at Burrard Marina
This first talk presented collaborators Zoe Kreye and Catherine Grau who were working on a public project throughout Vancouver entitled Unlearning Weekender, a project by Goethe Satellite @ Vancouver, created in cooperation with Dance Troupe Practice, Windsor House School, Public Dreams and Revised Projects. They discussed the series of workshops which invited the public to create rituals as a means of challenging invisible social structures aiming to strengthen community bonds.
Free drop-in art activities for all ages which responded to the work of Raymond Boisjoly and CAG exhibitions.
Saturday August 24 – A free all ages drop-in art activity: making pin-wheel windmills.
Saturday July 27 - We welcomed art makers of all ages to the Field House, participants learnt the basics of printmaking by making their own styrofoam relief prints.
Saturday June 29 - All ages of visitors dropped by the Field House for a marine mobile workshop, constructing easy-to-make kinetic sculptures which took the marine world as a theme.
The Field House Studio Residency Program is generously supported by the Vancouver Park Board and the City of Vancouver. The inaugural residency with Raymond Boisjoly was supported by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology.
As part of our contribution to Capture, Vancouver’s first annual city-wide photography festival, we present a new installation by American artist Mungo Thomson. Central to Thomson’s artistic proposition is that of context – be it institutional, cultural or that of everyday life – and it is through the breadth of his individual works that we are prompted to grasp the many challenges to our perception in the things we encounter daily. For Thomson is interested in the space between things, the subtext or background that consistently draws our attention. He has made works which record notional ‘silence’ – the sound of a room when no one is in it, the applause between songs on every live recording by Bob Dylan – produced works in a range of media based on TIME magazine, and made interventions into spaces which causing us to re-evaluate our expectations, such as Coat Check Chimes, his contribution to the 2008 Whitney Biennial Exhibition, where Thomson replaced the 1,200 coat hangers in the Whitney Museum’s coat check with custom-made, musically tuned coat hangers that were modeled on orchestral triangles.
When we look at the stars we are actually bathed in the light of the past, and for Thomson this is another way to think about the history while simultaneously considering the ‘contemporary’ – that which constitutes our present is a set of signals between which there are gaps. Negative Space is an ongoing series of photographic murals of inverted astronomical imagery sourced from the Hubble Space Telescope. Thomson works with the Hubble archive in an ongoing way, generating a negative image every time the Hubble generates a positive one. Through a simple command in Photoshop, blacks become whites, whites become blacks, and all other colors are transformed into their complement. These images are then made into site-specific photographic murals for empty walls and installed like wallpaper, indoors and out, temporary and permanent. The project also includes an artist book, an original font, and a screensaver.
The project at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada Line is presented in partnership with Capture and the Canada Line Public Art Program – IntransitBC.
This project heralds a more comprehensive exhibition of Thomson’s work to be presented at the Contemporary Art Gallery in 2014-15 produced in collaboration with SITE Santa Fe and accompanied by the first monograph to examine Thomson’s practice.MORE
Artist collective bgl discuss their work and their exhibition Marshmallow + Cauldron + Fire = at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, April 2009.
Congratulations to bgl who will represent Canada at the 2015 Venice Biennale.MORE
On Thursday, December 12th, the Point Grey Secondary grade twelve, Art Careers class visited the Contemporary Art Gallery for a full day workshop.
They spent the day exploring James Welling’s exhibition The Mind On Fire with a focus on studying curatorial practice and conceptual art practices. As part of the investigation they undertook an experiential response to Welling’s working methods, by conducting a photo-shoot in which students were asked to explore in-camera abstraction techniques. They spent their lunch hours creating images while exploring downtown Vancouver.
The students were interested in questioning our assumptions of perception and the photographic image, as well as how the inherent ambiguity affected the reading of an image. The students met afterward to discuss and edit the images and categorize them based on the abstraction technique or subject matter of the photographs. In effect the students curated an exhibition of photography, taking a cue from Welling in grouping images based on intended effect.
The CAG is excited to present a selection images of their work, see above for a slide show. A big thank you to the whole Point Grey HS Art Careers class and the artists we are presenting here: Kiel Torres, Catherine Wang, Cosette Bote, Aly Slobadov, Nancy Tseng, Forever Young, Kevin McAllum. They’ve posted more images on their Point Grey Art Blog.
The CAG welcome groups of all ages and levels for free guided visits. We also produce guided visits with art-making responses to the exhibitions on display.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Shaun Dacey, Curator of Learning and Public ProgramsMORE