The Contemporary Art Gallery welcomes the Feminist Land Art Retreat (FLAR) for a summer residency. FLAR was born in 2010 with a rock-concert style poster depicting mirrored images of Robert Smithson’s
Spiral Jetty, FLAR transformed this seminal work of land art into something resembling fallopian tubes, while inviting the viewer to a fantasy event. This began FLAR’s conceptual and humorous
subversion of familiar visual forms, including fashion, spa advertising, commemorative architecture, and aerial imagery. FLAR has continued appropriating commercial and art-historical
images with irony, challenging commonly held notions of how feminism is embodied and expressed.
Song of the Open Road
Vikky Alexander, Robert Arndt, Gerard Byrne, Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn, Kelly Jazvac, Kelly Lycan, Niamh O’Malley, Dawit L. Petros, Greg Staats, Lisa Tan
April 1 to June 18, 2017
B.C. Binning, Alvin Balkind Galleries, Events room, Window Spaces and off-site at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada line
Presented in partnership with Capture Photography Festival
“You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here,
I believe that much unseen is also here.
I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.”
—Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road” (1856)
Taking its title from a poem by Walt Whitman, the Contemporary Art Gallery presents a group exhibition as the central feature of this year’s Capture Photography Festival. Work is presented both inside and outside and across all of the gallery’s spaces, embracing a diverse set of conditions and approaches centred in a conceptual understanding of an expanded field of photographic practice that examines notions of what you see is most definitely not what you get.
Bringing together artists from Canada, Eritrea, Ireland, Sweden, and the US, the exhibition includes works that combine thematically to interrogate ideas rooted in photographic histories, engaging ideas such as veracity, recollection, remembrance, belonging, staging, and how the image documents and records these or is evidence of differing realities.
Key to the exhibition is Images or shadows of divine things (2005–), an ongoing series by Irish artist Gerard Byrne. Visually rich and intellectually complex, the artist’s work in photography, film, theatre, and multiscreen installation examines the slippage between time and the act of image creation. Presented here, a selection of these black-and-white photographs seems to depict a much earlier period, evoking vernacular photographic idioms of American midcentury photography and thus pointing toward the relationship between time, appearance, and the photographic document. Through a collection of over twenty images, a sense emerges that the series has a certain scale of vision. However, it is more about picturing the historical “conditions” of image making than it is about riffing on an aesthetic. That sense of conditions emerges only once the particularity of the given images is surpassed—that is when it becomes obvious that the specifics of the images are not the point, this realization becoming palpable when a sufficient number of them are grouped together.
Robert Arndt’s activities search and reveal the means of accessing culture and history through the mediated forms of books, magazines and the Internet. Made for the exhibition, Remainders, Repeats and Rejects (2017) is characteristic in its investigation of production whereby documentation itself becomes the artwork. Alongside a large-scale photograph of the gallery wall on which it sits atop, Arndt’s work collects and conflates personal imagery with found and staged scenarios, highlighting the notion that documentation may be all that is required for an idea to exist and resonate. We imagine wide ranging connections, invent narratives and recognize links between images, all thoughts set in motion to create a diversity of potential meaning.
Recent work by Canadian artist Kelly Lycan includes installations based on Gallery 291, the iconic New York photography gallery opened by Alfred Stieglitz in 1905. These recreations are developed through sourcing images available online, in an attempt to uncover an understanding or experience of the space while drawing on simulations of the photographic illusion of this. Song of the Open Road features a new version of Nearby Nearby, 291 Burlap Walls (2015), composed of a series of images of the walls of Gallery 291 culled from Internet searches. Printed on paper, the work creates a pixelated arena of varicoloured white grounds, where it is as if each image is forensically being drawn from some depths to emerge on the paper’s surface.
As a contemporary of artists such as Richard Prince, James Welling and Sherrie Levine who were active in New York in the early 1980s, Vikky Alexander is often associated with the Pictures Generation. She is best known for work that foregrounds a strong interest in the histories of architecture, design, and fashion, often focusing on locations such as shopping malls, showrooms, and show apartments—sites of desire, aspirations, and ideas of home. The images are often complicated through light, reflections, and refractions and speak of a set of conditions and values embedded in appearances as seen through furnishings and the notional view from the window (here, a large-scale photo mural). Shown outdoors at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Model Suite (Sliding Door) (2005/17) interplays with its architectural surroundings; the station’s glass pavilion lends a further physical and visual layer as we see the daily activity on the street through the work itself.
Ambient Advertising (2016), installed across the CAG’s windows, is a reconfigured work by Toronto-based Kelly Jazvac. Salvaged billboard images that she has reframed, manipulated and cut through, seemingly in reference to a quintessential Canadian landscape, visually envelop the gallery at street level. Taken from contemporary advertising, the imagery appeals to our collective sense of identity through reference to the romantic and awesome natural world that surrounds us while questioning the feeding of desire as driven by contemporary consumer culture.
Alongside photographic work in a variety of processes, the exhibition also includes moving-image works. Sunsets (2012), by American artist Lisa Tan, combines literature and various historical and personal references to materially explore the intricate relationship between language, image, and experience. The video, filmed on the threshold between night and day, unfolds like a conversation. Seemingly inconsequential things pop up and take hold: a phone call interrupts, the sun starts to set, a stranger asks a question, translations are needed. The work narrates Tan’s engagement with enigmatic writers, with histories, technologies, and geographies that she knows, in order to mediate those that she doesn’t.
Concerned with issues of visibility and the slippage between a moment and an image, Irish artist Niamh O’Malley investigates the construction and arrangement of time and document as revealed through the moving image. Across two large-scale screens, the silent black-and-white video Glasshouse (2014) unfolds as a lengthy tracking shot. As the camera moves seamlessly from left to right along the glass panes, the natural idyll disappears here and there as the glass becomes more or less opaque. Through this O’Malley draws our attention to the process of looking, the camera seemingly attempting to locate and uncover meaning. Yet as images fragment, blocked by stained and broken glass, such efforts are thwarted, challenging our perception of what it is we are actually viewing and of how the images are constructed.
Born in Montreal and currently working in Stockholm, Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn investigates issues of historicity, collectivity, utopian politics, and multiculturalism, often revealing the unnoticed political relevance of seemingly trivial historical anecdotes by shedding light on stories overlooked, hidden, or deemed otherwise insignificant. Seizing Hold of a Memory as It Flashes Up (2010) is a blind embossing using the speech of twelve-year-old Severn Suzuki, daughter of Japanese Canadian science communicator and environmental activist David Suzuki, delivered at the 1992 Earth Summit. Suzuki and members of ECO, the Environmental Children’s Organization, raised the money to travel from Vancouver to Brazil so they could attend the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. Here, Suzuki delivered her speech before 172 representatives of different countries, 108 heads of state, and some 2,400 NGO representatives; 17,000 of the people who attended the parallel NGO Global Forum had consultative status, resulting in a meeting that ultimately led to the Kyoto Protocol.
Toronto-based artist Greg Staats, Kanien’kehá:ka (b. Ohsweken, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory) whose works combine language, mnemonics and the natural world as an ongoing process of conceptualising a Haudenosaunee restorative aesthetic that defines the multiplicity of relationships with trauma and renewal. Staats addresses the systemic deficit of language—through personal and community archives and an intellectual and aesthetic interpretation of the body and ceremony. The installation untitled (objects of reciprocal thinking) (2014) combines both works from the beginning of the artist’s reflection of public and private within a Haudenosaunee linguistic and mnemonic continuum linked to place and recent works based on a reciprocal methodology. When at the edge of one’s condolence and within the liminal metaphysical space prior to renewal, there lies a hesitancy to move forward. While external and internal barriers must be overcome, the process must be completed with the help of others, both as witnesses and holders of the good mind. This ceremonial movement is comparable to moving from the darkness of the forest into the clearing where the light illuminates breath and one’s footing becomes clearer. The Mid-Winter (renewal) ceremony Gaihwayao:ni:, translated as “encouragement,” employs reciprocal gestures and words, repeatable to lifting up the mind after it has dropped down during condolence and/or post-trauma.
Chicago-based Canadian Eritean artist Dawit L. Petros similarly reflects through personal and cultural histories on ideas surrounding place making that are centred on a critical rereading of the relationship between African histories and European modernism. The book About the Author’s Journey from Ethiopia to Italy and about the Impressions Made on Him by His Stay in That Country in Tigrinya, by nineteenth-century writer Fesseha Giyorgis, was the first text published in the Tigrinya language (used in present-day Eritrea and Ethiopia). Using this as a guide, Petros undertook the journey from Ethiopia to Italy, his contemporary journey mirroring the historical passage across the Mediterranean Sea as well as the one undertaken by those currently fleeing to safety. When he arrived in Italy, the artist met a group of Eritrean migrants, with whom he made Untitled (2016), a collection of images with these individuals holding mirrors or archive materials in visual dialogue with the surrounding landscape. Viewed together, the photographs offer a metaphor-rich articulation of the fluidity of contemporary transnational experiences and attendant issues of cultural negotiation, speaking to how images and objects enable a sense of belonging or retrieval, both public and private.
We acknowledge the generous financial support of the following:
Vikky Alexander: Presented in partnership with the Canada Line Public Art Program—IntransitBC
Niamh O’Malley: Culture Ireland
Greg Staats: The Banff Centre, via a thematic residency program; the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario; and the Canada Council for the Arts/Conseil des arts du Canada
Lisa Tan: Iaspis, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual Artists
Model Suite [Sliding Door] (2015-17)
Until September 24, 2017
Off-site: Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada Line
As a contemporary of artists such as Richard Prince, James Welling and Sherrie Levine who were active in New York in the early 1980s, Vikky Alexander is often associated with the Pictures Generation. She is best known for work that foregrounds a strong interest in the histories of architecture, design and fashion, often focusing on locations such as shopping malls, showrooms, and show apartments — sites of desire, aspirations and ideas of home. The images are often complicated through light, reflections and refractions and speak of a set of conditions and values embedded in appearances as seen through furnishings and the notional view from the window (here, a large-scale photo mural). Shown outdoors at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Model Suite (Sliding Door) (2005/17) interplays with its architectural surroundings; the station’s glass pavilion lends a further physical and visual layer as we see the daily activity on the street through the work itself.
Presented with Capture Photography Festival
Vikky Alexander is one of Vancouver’s most acclaimed artists. Her work has been recognized within Canada and internationally in New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Europe and in the United States. Working as a photographer, sculptor, collagist and installation artist, Alexander is a leading practitioner in the field of photo-conceptualism. Her work is at once both seductive and disruptive; she likes to situate the viewer within idealized spaces that reflect our aspirations and frames our desires within the dynamics of consumption and utopian ideals.
Alexander lives in Montreal and is represented by the Trepanier Baer Gallery in Calgary, Alberta, Wilding Cran, Los Angeles and Cooper Cole, Toronto.MORE
Until September 10, 2017
Ambient Advertising (2016), installed across the CAG’s windows, is a reconfigured work by Toronto-based Kelly Jazvac. Salvaged billboard images are reframed, manipulated and cut through, seemingly in reference to a quintessential Canadian landscape, and visually envelop the gallery at street level. Taken from contemporary advertising, the imagery appeals to our collective sense of identity through reference to the romantic and awesome natural world that surrounds us while questioning the feeding of desire as driven by contemporary consumer culture.
Presented with Capture Photography Festival
Kelly Jazvac is an artist based in London, Ontario. Recent exhibitions include Rocks Stones and Dust, Art Museum at the University of Toronto; Organic Situation, Koenig and Clinton; An other land, and in the other our own, Prosjekstrom Normann’s, Norway; Human Nature, Carleton University Gallery, Ottawa (2015); Recent Landscapes, Louis B. James Gallery, New York City; Anthropophotogenic, The University of Waterloo Art Gallery (2014); PARK, Oakville Galleries; Impel With Puffs, Diaz Contemporary, Toronto; and More Than Two, The Power Plant, Toronto (2013). She is represented by Louis B. James Gallery, New York.MORE
Manti, Börek, Baklava
Burrard Marina Field House Residency
Until April 2017
The Contemporary Art Gallery welcomes Vancouver-based artist Derya Akay as the Burrard Marina Field House artist-in-residence this spring.
Akay is collaborating with women elders from a range of cultural backgrounds to explore and share local and diasporic culinary traditions. This convivial preparing and partaking of food is a gateway to oral history, which Akay understands as both storytelling and the sensations and memories summoned through communal eating.
“For my residency, I have developed the project working with five elder women who will work with me to give workshops to ten to fifteen people, as a social exercise that revolves around food, time and the labour of kitchen” – Derya Akay
Over the course of March, April and May, Derya Akay will co-host a series of workshops and meals where the public is invited to gather for cooking and conversation with the women elders.
Image: Derya Akay and women elders cook at the Burrard Marina Field House. Photograph Michelle Martin.
Saturday, March 18, 12-3pm, free
Cooking with Maria Dyulgerova and her granddaughter Biliana Velkova
AT: Burrard Marina Field House, 1655 Whyte Avenue, Vancouver.
Tickets and information (currently a wait list)
Sunday, April 2, 5-8pm, $40 includes full meal and workshop.
Shabbat Dinner and Fresh Challah presented in partnership with The Jewish Museum and Archives of BC.
Dinner will be prepared by artist Derya Akay, Sara Ciacci, Leonor Etkin, Claire Hammer and Debbie Kafka.
AT: The Jewish Museum and Archives of BC, 6184 Ash Street (2nd floor), Vancouver.
Tickets and information
More events to be announced in April and May, please check www.contemporaryartgallery.ca for details.
Derya Akay (b, 1988, Turkey) is an artist living in Vancouver. He received the 2016 Portfolio Prize Emerging Artist Award in Vancouver. Recent solo exhibitions include with bread, Campbell River Art Gallery, 2017; Pumice, Del Vaz Projects, Los Angeles, California, 2017; Painting with Light, Kunstverein Toronto, 2015; Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Supper, Centre A, Vancouver, 2014. Group exhibitions include Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, 2017; Unit 17, Vancouver, 2017; Ambivalent Pleasures, Vancouver Art Gallery, 2016; The Gardener Museum, Toronto, 2015; Geometry of Knowing Part I, Simon Fraser University Gallery, Burnaby, 2015.
About the Burrard Marina Field House
Throughout 2017 CAG is hosting a series of artists-in-residence, each working toward participatory projects to be realized throughout 2017–2019. The Field House Studio is an off-site artist residency space and community hub organized by CAG. This program moves beyond conventional exhibition making, echoing the founding origins of the gallery where artists were offered support toward the production of new work while reaching out to communities and offering new ways for individuals to encounter, participate and connect with art and artists.
The Burrard Marina Field House Studio Residency Program is generously supported by Vancouver Park Board and the City of Vancouver, along with many private and individual donors. Please visit our website for a full list of supporters. For further details about the program, all forthcoming residencies and associated events visit our website at www.contemporaryartgallery.ca
and the Field House blog at www.burrardmarinafieldhouse.blog
For 2016–2019 we acknowledge the generous support of the Burrard Marina Field House Studio Residency Program by the Vancouver Foundation.MORE
July 31 to September 3, 2017
Produced in partnership with the Contemporary Art Gallery, Access Gallery and Burrard Arts Foundation, Sikarnt Skoolisariyaporn, currently based between Bangkok and Düsseldorf, is the eighth and final artist to participate in Twenty-Three Days at Sea, the travelling artist residency originated by Access.
Through moving image, performance, text and installation, Skoolisariyaporn’s practice embraces perpetual complexity of space and time. She is interested in contingency of the seascape, a landscape which only reveals itself in the fourth dimension of time, in its constant shifting through wave and wind. The seascape not only suggests an alternative approach to our perception of spatiality, but to the way our formless reality operates. There is perhaps no image that better describes our neoliberal present than a mass of alienated consumer products–at once material and monetary–floating precariously in the middle of the sea. Skoolisariyaporn imagines that as sea levels rise with climate change, the ground of modern reason “floods,” and a new “superstitious liquid state” pours in to take its place.
Following her time aboard a container ship to Shanghai in Twenty-Three Days at Sea, Skoolisariyaporn will take up residence at the Burrard Marina Field House Studio, and through a number of programmed events, will explore the state of flux of the sea and transnational mode of production in relation to ‘Cargo Cult’, a cultural phenomenon practiced by indigenous peoples in Melanesia in the wake of their contact with the colonialist West. The work will be presented in an exhibition at Access Gallery opening September 8, 2017.
Sikarnt Skoolisariyaporn’s practice involves moving image, performance, text, and installation, and examines notions of human and non-human history embedded in geological spacetime: the history of mankind as remembered by the earth and its landscape. She is particularly interested in the landscape of the sea, because a “seascape” offers the potential to imagine a perpetual landscape that transcends the concept of “space” into “time.” In this way, she suggests, the landscape of the sea suggests a new way to understand and approach history and spatiality. Recent exhibitions and performances include Chongqing Changjiang Contemporary Museum, Chongqing, China; Biquini Wax, Mexico City; Deptford Lounge, London, UK; Kunstakademie Dusseldorf; Gruentaler 9, Berlin; and Five Years Project, London, UK. Skoolisariyaporn lives and works in London and Bangkok.MORE