As our contribution to Vancouver Design Week, the CAG worked with James Langdon, recipient of the 2012 Inform Award for Conceptual Design, presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig, Germany. Langdon presented a short course and workshop in reading objects, environments and messages. Stimulated by the curious genre of design fiction, the programme asserts storytelling as the primary function of design. Langdon conducted a three day workshop on September 16–18 exploring narrative approaches to design, a series of connected exercises subjecting a collection of found materials to various manual and conceptual processes.
CAG volunteer Sara Khan writes about her experiences taking part in the three day workshop:
As an artist who enjoys telling stories through two dimensional media, the School for Design fiction workshop caught my attention; I was curious about what fiction through design could entail. On our first day we were asked to bring in three objects, organic or designed. People brought along things ranging from eggshells and apples to metal birds, buttons, bottles, and moth traps.
Before we started working on the activity set for the day James Langdon had us watch a short film. It replayed the same event but with slight variations with each iteration. A human figure used different objects in unconventional ways, from dumping food on a laptop to sitting on a book instead of reading it. At a glance the human figure came across a sort of a machine that had malfunctioned. Mulling over the film afterward made me wonder about why objects around us are operated the way they are and have a specific function or name, how come we almost use them like robots not really questioning their history, form or task.
Once we started talking about the objects we’d brought along and the workshop progressed; I realised more and more that in the everyday structure and organization of things and lives, we had forgotten to ponder the existence of what surrounds us. It reminded me of Sartre’s Antoine in “Nausea” and how he wonders about the bark of a tree and why it is considered to be black.
As we arranged and rearranged the items with each other, we saw how meaning was added to or subtracted from them. One of the last exercises led some of us to completely deconstruct the objects we were working with; which resulted in a lot of them either being completely stripped off their meaning or not changing at all, which was interesting to see.
By the end of the workshop though, I think, perhaps we were reading too much into everything, as humans often do; put anything before us and we’ll make up a story. At this point we watched a documentary about the Piltdown man. The film reminded me of the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
It is amazing how if you put forth a thought with enough conviction and confidence most people will believe it as the truth. It makes me wonder what falsehoods lurk in our histories.
So, as we wonder in awe at the totality of this existence, it is important to question the things we experience.
- Sara Khan
Check out a selection of books by James Langdon in the CAG book shop, on a specially dedicated shelf.
A School for Design Fiction – workshop
16-18 September 2014, 6pm-9pm
Kicking off our new series of blog posts featuring CAG staff, board members, interns and volunteers writing book recommendations selecting from the CAG’s thirty year history of publishing, Jaclyn Bruneau, CAG Visitor Assistant, picks one of her favourite CAG publications from back in the late 1990′s: French Kiss.
Ghada Amer, Jean-Sylvain Bieth, Bernard Lallemand, Dany Leriche & Patrick Reynaud
Exhibition: December 13, 1997 – January 31, 1998
This exhibition presented works by five French artists around nuanced notions of sex and sexuality. Far from the tedium of ready-made erotica, these works extend into realms of psychological complexity, esotericism and France’s rich philosophical history of desire. French Kiss is soft to the touch, the colours saturated, and the images immense.
French Kiss can be purchased in the CAG book shop or online, with the special Summer discount of 40%, use the coupon code CAGSUMMER on check out. Purchase here.
Continuing our new series of blog posts featuring CAG staff, board members, interns and volunteers writing book recommendations selecting from the CAG’s thirty year history of publishing, Kelli Sturkenboom, CAG Communications intern, picks her two most favourite CAG publications:
Exhibition: Nov 21, 2008 to Jan 18, 2009
$25, sale price $15 + tax
This compact CAG publication gives a look into Shannon Oksanen’s work. CAG Curator, Jenifer Papararo writes a charming and engaging essay for Summerland. Although part of the exhibition was a film installation, the way this book is laid out gives the reader a very clear idea of how the exhibition looked, and would have been experienced. The overall theme of nostalgia coupled with the colour palette of Oksanen’s paintings and video work makes this a joy to flip through.
An Invitation to An Infiltration
Contemporary Art Gallery
Exhibition dates: January 21 – February 28, 2010
$30, sale price $18 + tax
This publication is an interesting, behind-the-scenes look at the issues and controversies underlying the exhibition process by including content like e-mails between curators, artists, and donors. The exhibition was part of the Cultural Olympiad Vancouver 2010 and co-presented by VANOC, which had huge implications for its meaning and makes this book a must-read to find out more. I also love how the cover and half-title pages were cut from the wallpaper and posters that were actually displayed in the exhibition; purchasing the publication is like purchasing a piece from the show.
Both titles can be purchased in the CAG book shop or online, with the special summer discount of 40%, use the coupon code CAGSUMMER on check out. Summerland: Purchase here. An Invitation to An Infiltration: Purchase here.
CAG Curator Jenifer Papararo joins our series of CAG book recommendations with a short review of the popular 2004 publication SUPERNATURAL.
When I began working at the CAG in late 2004 this exhibition catalogue was well under production, in its final stages of proofing and colour correction. Unfortunately, I missed the exhibition SUPERNATURAL curated by Roy Arden, but feel the catalogue captures the radical and reflective drive behind pairing the wall and collage work of abstract painter Neil Campbell next to the masks of master carver Beau Dick.
The slim hardcover book which respectively features an image of each artist’s work on the front and back covers, immediately sets a formal opposition between the two artists practices: Campbell’s as a cool white and Dick’s bathed in dramatic black. The numerous installation shots throughout the publication establishes this divide, showing Campbell’s work presented in the typical starkness of a white cube while Dick’s work is suspended in darkness.
The aligning of these two artists is mysterious, but also seems to make perfect sense. Arden states, “Supernatural aims … to entertain the similarities of intention, means, and effect in their work without losing sight of their significant differences.”
SUPERNATURAL can be purchased, with a special discount of 40% during August, either online (click on the titles above – on check out use the coupon code CAGSUMMER) or in person at the CAG bookshop.MORE
Continuing our Summer series of book recommendations from CAG staff, volunteers, interns and board members, CAG Director Nigel Prince highlights three publications from the CAG’s thirty year publishing history:
Some Detached Houses
Robin Collyer, Todd A Davis, Dan Graham, Amy Jones, Bill Jones, Robert Linsley, Warren Murfitt, Margaret Naylor, Ed Ruscha, Nancy Shaw, Greg Snider
Contemporary Art Gallery
March 29 – April 1989
This was a crucial exhibition and publication linking West and East Coast conceptual practices, including a number of key artists. The photograph on the cover is an aerial view of the Eastside of Vancouver circa 1960. Included in the exhibition were Dan Graham’s New Balloon Houses, Surrey made in the then suburb of Vancouver. It was one of the first CAG publications I purchased on my initial visit to Vancouver in 2000.
Contemporary Art Gallery
November 14, 2003 – January 4, 2004
Terada often uses the things normally thought of as ancillary to art itself as raw material for exhibitions, for example, by employing promotional and didactic material as the objects for display. Catalogue took the form of an exhibition publication but highlighted the patronage of those who collaborated with the artist in support of the show by their logos becoming the actual artwork on display on the gallery walls. The book itself becomes the exhibition representing everything that it encompasses.
For Example: Dix-Huit Leçons sur la Société Industrielle
Contemporary Art Gallery
January 14 – March 6, 2005
A key exhibition for the Contemporary Art Gallery and the artist, Christopher Williams’ work grows out of the history of conceptual art of the 1960s and 1970s, which used language and photography to address issues related to painting and sculpture. The publication, beautifully designed and conceptually rigorous with the exhibition, was curated by Claudia Beck, an individual who along with husband Andrew Gruft has made a significant contribution to Vancouver’s artistic scene.
All three of these publications can be purchased, with a special discount of 40% during August, either online (click on the titles above – on check out use the coupon code CAGSUMMER) or in person at the CAG bookshop.MORE
This offset print on optigloss is name stamped and numbered by the artist. Edition of 100.
Kay Rosen makes use of words and their font in order to explore the ways in which knowledge is structured by language. She is interested in how language can evoke thought on its own by treating each letter as a body part. In this way, Kay Rosen is less concerned with neither explicit political messages nor the intrusion of the artist’s voice so as to allow the letters themselves to subvert verbal systems of power. The six conceptual and formal strategies employed by the artist include colour, sound, anti-grammar, letters, systems and patterns, and graphics. The Contemporary Art Gallery Vancouver held a Kay Rosen exhibition between June 28th and November 3rd, 2013. This particular edition allows viewers to encounter language and type as both something to be read and something to be seen.
Love Letter, 1/20/2009, commemorates the inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States on January 20, 2009. Love Letter continues a theme formerly used in the Klosterfelde edition O (1999), whose nine titles range from "Open" to "Halo," in which O functions as a visual object as well as a letter. The edition Stilllife with Blue Table (Earthquake) (2007) slyly contains an O which behaves as an orange and a letter. As letters and symbols, the O's and X's in Love Letter are semi-abstract and universal, transcending language's meaning and syntax. They may be considered ciphers or stand-ins for other things. For example, the O's might represent Obama, with the X's the alternative that is rejected. X's and O's might represent hugs and kisses, an affectionate way of signing off a letter. Just as a previous generation was designated X, the current state of mind is resoundingly O. The beauty of these letters is their ability to transform themselves, making many interpretations possible.
KAY ROSEN WOULD LIKE TO QUALIFY HER EDITION "LOVE LETTER, 1/20/2009 " TO PRESIDENT OBAMA. WHILE PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS DONE SOME GOOD THINGS, HE HAS FALLEN FAR SHORT OF BEING THE TRANSFORMATIVE PRESIDENT THAT HIS CAMPAIGN RHETORIC PROMISED. INSTEAD HE HAS SHOWN THAT HE IS SIMPLY A TALENTED POLITICIAN.MORE