From the Archives | Text in Context

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From the Archives | Text in Context

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Words and phrases in the English language can function in many different ways. Certain words have multiple meanings depending on their context, while the context of a certain phrase can completely change how we understand it. Many contemporary artists have turned to the use of language and text in their practice for this reason; they allow the evocation of multivalent messages.

Currently, Stefan Brüggemann’s Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies covers the façade of the CAG. This piece, which has become a popular conversation topic around the city, takes found phrases and places them in a very different context than their origins. Looking at these Hollywood movie quotes and recent news headlines next to each other causes one to think about them in a completely new way. Their large size and bold colours impose them onto the viewer and into the built environment of the city, rather than their traditional positions as mere utterances or words on paper.

A short look back through the CAG archives brought me to another fascinating textual installation. There have been many over the years, including those by Meriç Algün Ringborg, Tim Etchells and Raymond Boisjoly among others. A particular piece by Nathan Coley, however, struck me.

As part of his wide-ranging practice, the Glasgow artist takes found phrases, enlarges, illuminates and erects them on scaffolding in specific locations. When I encountered his piece There Will Be No Miracles Here (2006) earlier this year in Edinburgh, Scotland, I was taken aback. Placed outside the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which holds many things that I personally consider “miraculous,” I was both offended and intrigued by this statement. At the time I was not familiar with his work, as I assume is the case with many people who stumble upon his pieces that are placed in public space.

Part of his CAG exhibition in 2012, Coley’s installation in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver featured the phrase We Must Cultivate Our Garden (2006), perched atop the roof of the Pennsylvania Hotel. This line, taken from Voltaire’s Candide, took on a new role in this context. The built environment used by Coley was altered by the introduction of this sculpture into the architecture of the neighbourhood. Similarly, the meaning of the phrase itself changed; many are aware of the ongoing and various issues in the Downtown East Side community, and this sculpture addressed the need to fix these in an almost forceful manner.

Nathan Coley’s outstanding monograph spanning the last 10 years, A Place Beyond Belief, can be purchased in the CAG book shop. Make sure you visit Bruggemann’s installation before it comes down on September 7th, and check out his publication in our book shop as well. Our summer book sale is happening now in the CAG book shop and online; use the coupon code CAGSUMMER on check out for a special discount of 40%!

– Kelli Sturkenboom



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Kelli Sturkenboom




Related Exhibitions

Headlines & Last Lines in the Movies transforms the façade of the Contemporary Art Gallery, wooden cladding covering its frontage and south east corner. Resembling a construction site, the structure becomes the ground for the work; the title a precise description of itself.

In this new mural, Brüggemann writes headlines from current newspapers, from local to global, in combination with excerpts of last lines from popular films. “Forget it Jake, its Chinatown” could be spray-painted next to “Enbridge Pipeline Rejected”, the juxtaposition of appropriated texts creating both a familiarity and an oddly appropriate pairing suggestive of narratives that may exist to connect current news items with scripted dialogue.  With one text residing in the real, the other in the fictive, in combination they create a barrage of information that Brüggemann unifies into a totality of black text. The overlay forms a graphic field that is only partly legible, language creating an immersive installation that draws colloquial phrases into dense cacophonic arenas. The work seems declaratory, but what it is trying to communicate is drowned out by volume, intensity and opacity.


Stefan Brüggemann - Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies


Related Learning

Artist Stefan Bruggemann discusses his exhibtiion, ‘Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies’ at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver. June 13 to September 7, 2014. Video by Brian Lye.


Video | Stefan Bruggemann


In CAG Shop


86 pages

Headlines And Last Lines In The Movies was published on the occasion of an installation within the exhibition of the same name by Stefan Brüggemann presented at the Yvon Lambert Gallery, New York from February 27th to April 10th, 2010. The publication contains an introduction by Enrique Giner de los Ríos and the essay Beginning Of Writing by Glenn O'Brian. Each copy of this edition - limited to 500 - is numbered and signed by the artist.


Stefan Brüggemann - Headlines And Last Lines In The Movies


In CAG Shop


12 pages

In this brochure, curator Rubén Gallo introduces the Tendencies: New Art From Mexico City exhibition which took place at the CAG from May 18 to June 29, 1996.

This exhibition was guest curated by Rubén Gallo of Mexico City and Terence Gower of Vancouver. It included eight young artists based in Mexico City. The exhibition was conceived as a response to the stereotypes that circulate about Mexican art being in the tradition of figurative painting or based in folk art. It included painting, sculpture, installation and photography. This exhibition complemented an exploration by the CAG of work by Latin American artists which included Fernando Arias and an exhibition of Cuban art planned in collaboration with the Belkin Gallery for 1997. Tendencies: New Art from Mexico City was presented at the San Francisco Art Institute before coming to Vancouver.


Tendencies: New Art From Mexico City


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