Time, People, Money, Crickets
July 10 to August 30, 2015
B.C. Binning, Alvin Balkind Galleries and gallery façade
Live Performance: Cricket Solos for Clarinet, Piccolo, Percussion, and Violin
Friday, July 10, 8.30pm onwards
Emery Barnes Park, Vancouver
Richards and Davie Streets
The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a major solo exhibition by Los Angeles based artist Mungo Thomson.
Time, People, Money, Crickets brings together a survey of work produced during the past five years, complemented by an extensive monographic publication. Combined, exhibition and publication provide an expansive opportunity to tease out the nuance and complexity of Thomson’s practice across his many media and forms.
Central to Thomson’s artistic proposition is an embrace of context—be it situational, institutional, mass cultural or art historical—and it is through the intelligent breadth of his individual works that we are prompted to examine the perceptual mechanics of everyday life in relation to a wider historical and cosmic scale. The exhibition includes key works in film, sound, sculpture, performance and publication that approach perception and cultural mediation with economy and wit, often relying on existing forms of recognition and distribution.
The exhibition features several large-scale mirror works from Thomson’s ongoing series TIME: person-sized, silkscreened mirrors bearing the iconic logo and red border of the international weekly news magazine. The mirrors are based on individual covers of the magazine that reference a variety of cultural and cosmological notions of time and history, forming a broad cumulative network of objects. Installed together, they form infinity spaces and kinesthetic configurations in which the viewer, the viewing context and other TIME mirrors are reflected and reversed endlessly, and the viewer finds themselves pictured within that network. Such associations are further elaborated by a new iteration of Thomson’s ongoing series Negative Space, photographic murals of inverted astronomical imagery sourced from the Hubble Space Telescope, here specially designed for the glass canopy that defines the entrance and exterior of the gallery.
Thomson’s Crickets (2012-13) is an ambitious musical score for orchestra based on the chirping of crickets. Transcribed from a French compilation of field recordings from around the world—France, Cameroon, Senegal, Martinique, Borneo, Thailand and Venezuela—and produced in collaboration with Los Angeles composer Michael Webster, the score contains 25 movements, such as 12. Reunion Island, the Cirque de Cilaos at 1300 m. altitude, February 1998, nightfall in a banana plantation. Seen in an HD video, and shown alongside the sheet music, a 17-player classical ensemble simulates a chorus of crickets in flute, clarinet, violin and percussion. Crickets explores the distinctions between silence, sound, noise and music, using the aural backdrop that crickets represent—so ubiquitous that they have come to stand in for silence, and, in the context of performance, failure. Thomson and Webster have also developed Crickets for solo performers—individual musicians scattered around a park, each simulating the sound of a single cricket with a different instrument. Working with Vancouver New Music, CAG will present a live performance of Cricket Solos for Clarinet, Piccolo, Percussion, and Violin in Emery Barnes Park.
Other works in the exhibition play with the context of the gallery or museum itself. Mail (2013) is the simplest intervention into the CAG’s everyday infrastructure. For the duration of the exhibition, once delivered, the mail remains on the floor, unopened, gradually becoming an obstacle to physical passage as well as to institutional function. Untitled (Margo Leavin Gallery, 1970– ) (2009) is a Super-16mm stop-motion film animation that flips through all the contacts in the business card rolodexes of Los Angeles’ Margo Leavin Gallery, which was founded in 1970 and closed in 2012, and where Thomson showed for over a decade. Consisting of thousands of contacts, each with their own particular relationship to the operation of the gallery – artists, framers, electricians, collectors, customs agents, florists, critics, exterminators – each card gets a single film frame, the film running at 24 frames per second. It is a kinetic portrait, pairing analogue technologies, of a group of people randomly and uniquely brought into orbit together around a single cultural enterprise.
People (2011) is an ongoing series of photographs of visitors to art exhibitions with the art on view removed in Photoshop, leaving only people staring into the voids of empty white rooms. These images are taken from the web as well as privately commissioned by Thomson from professional events photographers. In 2011 Thomson produced a magazine collecting these uncanny images modeled on the American tabloid “People”. Originally distributed unannounced by mail, it is exhibited here as a free takeaway for visitors.
Void and Observer (2013-15) is a series of sculptures modeled on the phenomena of ‘error coins’—rare and collectible coins that result from a production mistake at the US mint, in which a blank coin planchet is mis-struck by the die that carries the coin image. In Thomson’s reworking of the phenomenon, made with 3D printing and jewelry casting, these coins take on a cosmological dimension, as an off-center John F. Kennedy appears to be contemplating the void of the unstruck side of a half-dollar, and as other error coins in other US denominations resemble planetary bodies in phase or eclipse. Kept in the pockets of the staff of the CAG and displayed upon request, the coins will orbit and revolve around each other throughout the day.
Mungo Thomson: Time, People, Money, Crickets is organized by the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver and SITE Santa Fe. A new 200-page monograph of Thomson’s work, Time, People, Money, Crickets, published by CAG with SITE Santa Fe is available at the gallery, special exhibition price of $25.
Mungo Thomson lives and works in Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions, performances and projects have taken place at ArtPace, San Antonio (2014); SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe (2013); The Times Museum, Guangzhou, China (2013); The Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2012); The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2008); The Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, France (2007); and Galeria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAMeC), Bergamo, Italy (2006), among others. Selected group exhibitions include The 2nd CAFAM Biennale, CAFA Art Museum, Beijing, China (2014); A Guest Without A Host Is A Ghost, Beirut and Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, Egypt; Imitatio Christie’s, Galleria Zero, Milan (2014); Turn off the Sun: Selections from La Colección Jumex, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZ (2013); Public Diary, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan (2013); The Pacific Standard Time Public Art and Performance Festival, Los Angeles, USA (2012); Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), Istanbul, Turkey (2011); Exhibition Exhibition, Castello di Rivoli, Torino, Italy (2010); Compilation IV, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany (2009); The 2008 Whitney Biennial (2008); and PERFORMA05 (2005). Thomson’s work is held in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and FRAC Ile-de-France, Paris, France, among others. Thomson is represented by galerie frank elbaz, Paris, France.
After much anticipation, Mungo Thomson makes his return to the CAG with his solo exhibition, Time, People, Money, Crickets, opening this Friday. The team has been hard at work preparing for the show. Now that it is down to the last few days of the install, I talked to programs assistant Jas Lally to find out about the challenges they have faced and the exciting things that will be occurring over the next month.
Because of the multitude of mediums explored by Mungo, from sculpture to performance to film and sound, the preparation has been unique. “When we install the works we have to be careful about the TIME mirror pieces in particular, because they weigh about 100 pounds each, so they’re quite heavy,” Jas said. “We’ll have to be careful with the projection of the rolodex film as well.” Untitled (Margo Leavin Gallery 1970-)(2009) is a stop-motion 16mm film. “I am very excited to work with a 16mm projector again after Jeremy Shaw’s exhibition earlier this year” Jas added.
All of the pieces have been shipped from SITE Santa Fe, who the CAG is collaborating with to present this exhibition. The only issue was a slight hold up at the border. “You have to be prepared for delays in customs clearance,” Jas mentioned. “Once you speak to the agent and explain that it is artwork, it works out.” Thankfully, they are here in perfect shape and being hung up/suspended/tested/configured for Friday evening.
Jas mentioned that she is looking forward to Void and Observer (2013-2015). “Hopefully the viewer will read the label and go, ‘Hey, where’s this piece?’ I think the mis -marked coin will be the most unique and the most interactive piece.” The front desk staff might just have the answer.
Mungo’s Crickets (2012-2013), which one will be able to see, hear and read in the large gallery room, will also be performed live on the night of the opening. “We collaborated with Vancouver New Music to have four musicians perform the piece in neighbouring Emery Barnes Park,” Jas smiled, “The musicians will essentially be playing the role of crickets. That will be fun.” This work definitely defines the show, being presented in live performance, video, sound and debossed score during the course of the exhibition.
Jas also organized a feedback talk around Crickets on July 28 with speakers Murray Isman, Professor of Applied Biology from UBC; Lucas Abela, a performance artist and Giorgio Magnanensi, Artistic Director of Vancouver New Music. “It’s really about getting something different and taking a chance. I hope the speakers will be able to engage with their personal experiences and reflect upon the piece,” Jas explained her unexpected choice of participants. “I believe that it’s important to bring in different perspectives so that the viewer has a more engaged experience.” We can’t wait to hear what the speakers have to say.
Finally, Jas expounded why we should all be looking forward to Mungo’s show. “Well, it’s Mungo! He’s been really great to work with and you can see how invested he is in his work. It is going to be interesting to see how all the works come together in relation to each other, the everyday life, the wider historical contexts and the cosmic scale. I am most excited to see how the interactive aspects of the exhibition work out whereby the public are no longer just the audience, but participants.”
Join us this Friday, June 10 at 7pm for the opening, and head over to Emery Barnes Park at 8:30pm for the live performance of Cricket Solos for Clarinet, Piccolo, Percussion and Violin. Don’t miss the Feedback Talk on July 28, either!
- Kelli Sturkenboom
Hello! My name is Helen Wong and I am the Summer Development Assistant here at the CAG. I’m very excited to start working at the CAG where I will be helping out with the Annual Gala and Art Auction alongside Development Officer, Kristin Cheung.
I’m currently in my last year of undergraduate studies at the University of British Columbia with a major in Art History. With this looming ahead of me, it’s nice to be surrounded by individuals who are able to impart some knowledge and experience as to their post-undergraduate lives. I’ve done a lot of travelling through UBC, I have taken a 15th Century Art History course in Venice and I have studied abroad in Bristol, UK. Through my time abroad, I was exposed to so many different cultures and types of art that it has really expanded my areas of interest.
My interest in Art History was sparked during a 200 level Renaissance art class at UBC, and from then on I haven’t looked back. I think art becomes a way in which we can speak about so many contemporary issues and subjects because of its interdisciplinary nature, plus I feel like a detective when I’m analyzing a piece of work which is another reason why I love it!
My interest in the CAG began when I wanted to learn more about local art and artists. I think that the CAG is a natural hub for dialogue and I wanted to be a part of that. I look forward to the rest of my summer here and learning more about ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘what it takes’ to plan a grand Gala and Auction event like this! Stay tuned for more Gala and Auction news as the summer progresses…
- Helen WongMORE
Negative Space (STScI-PRC2012-26f), 2015
Archival inkjet print
Edition of 20, signed.
The print is available mounted or unmounted, if shipping is requested we will contact you to specify whether you prefer it mailed mounted or unmounted.
This limited edition print was produced to coincide with the exhibition Mungo Thomson: Time, People, Money, Crickets at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver July 10 to August 30, 2015.MORE
Published by JRP|Ringier
Text by Mungo Thomson, Michael Webster.
Crickets is a collaboration between Californian artist Mungo Thomson (born 1969) and composer Michael Webster (born 1966), for which field recordings of crickets from around the world were transcribed into a musical score, including parts for violin, flute, clarinet and percussion. This publication documents their project.MORE