The weakened eye of day
July 29 to October 2, 2016
B.C. Binning and Alvin Balkind Galleries
The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a major new body of work by Irish artist Isabel Nolan, conceived as a single project across successive evolving presentations at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Mercer Union, Toronto and CAG.
Nolan’s work encompasses text, sculpture, drawing and textiles, and often begins with the close scrutiny of individual literary or artistic works, or evolves out of consciously erratic and diverging enquiries into the aesthetics of varied fields. Ranging from cosmology, to theories and systems of medicine detailing the makeup and workings of the human body or to illuminated manuscripts, all provide potential stimuli for investigation. The exhibition takes its title from the English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy’s The Darkling Thrush (1899), in which the sun, described as “the weakening eye of day”, is a dismal star drained of its force by a gloomy pre-centennial winter afternoon. As the sun’s gaze weakens, so flags the spirit of the poet who, until interrupted by birdsong, sees only the inevitability of death in the cold world around him. The show thereby examines how light manifests as a symbol in our thoughts, obsessions and pursuits, and oscillates around a series of ideas as a material account of the known and unknown strangeness of the world, from the formation of the planet’s crust to the death of the sun and the enduring preoccupation with light as a metaphor for truth, hope and optimism.
Writing is an important tool for Nolan, and at the beginning of the show, a single sculptural form appears perhaps as the protagonist of an improbable story. Rock founded place (2014) is a large-scale scrolled text written by Nolan that imagines the viewpoint of the oldest rock in the world, whose exposure to deep time and the precariousness of existence is profoundly different to our own. In this world, time, knowledge and forms of life are recognizable yet play utterly different histories and roles than in our own civilization.
Throughout the exhibition, individual pieces unfold to both seduce and disarm. Nolan uses this as a device to cause us reflection upon our relationship to light as a means by which the world is framed. She provides opportunities to reveal the contingency not only of our own world, but also of our myriad ways of knowing and being in it. Underpinning this is a desire to examine and capture in material form the occasions of intensity that can define our encounters with the objects around us; inexplicable and unsettling moments that leave us with a heightened awareness of what is means to be alive. For the artist this exploration happens through making things; whether these things are sculptures, textiles, photographs or texts. Monumental or intimate in scale, they are presented to us as tentative and precarious markers of the experience of our place beneath the sun.
Across all spaces at CAG, discrete works trace a progression reflective of different human attempts to understand our place in the universe. From Rock founded place we might move to consider a small-scale abstract painting such as Dreams of no thing, no time (2014), the enigmatically diagrammatic steel construction Somewhere between Andromeda and Vulpecula: Sky Atlas (2014) or Fourfold sorrows (Jesus you look so sad) (2015), an impressive woven carpet connecting wall to floor. Contemplating these and other pieces such as the collection of brightly coloured ceramic vessels, Nothing new under the sun (2014), all combine to reflect Nolan’s interest in the way colour and light are used to express religious or spiritual sensibilities. Elsewhere, the intimate drawings Based on my recent observations (1–7) (2014) and the large-scale photograph The view from nowhen (2014) are informed by modern cosmology, wherein scientific theories and technologies articulate our contemporary relationship to the universe. And as we meander through the space of the gallery, we are finally confronted by what at first appears a somewhat surreal image, this mural of two donkeys photographed in Bully’s Acre, a former public cemetery located near the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin. Referred to in myth and folklore from around the world as well as embodying different symbolic references in classical and ancient cultures and across different faiths, these donkeys provide a provocation that cannot be met: a stubborn and inscrutable view from a world that can never be fully known.
As with all of Nolan’s oeuvre, the works in The weakened eye of day reveal, through their very subjective and intimate nature, the arbitrariness and inherent absurdity of attempting to tackle the enormity of these subjects through the process of object making. Yet the objects are made and for Nolan they also find, with varying degrees of (un)certainty, their place under the sun.
Originated by the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, this new selection of work for the exhibition is presented in collaboration with Mercer Union, Toronto and Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver.
The exhibition is supported by the Culture Ireland programme for 2016 celebrating Ireland’s Centenary.
We also acknowledge the generous assistance of Kerlin Gallery, Dublin.
Isabel Nolan lives and works in Dublin, Ireland. Recent solo exhibitions include Mercer Union, Toronto (2016); Launch Pad, New York; Kerlin Gallery, Dublin (2015); Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2014); The Return Gallery, Goethe Institut, Dublin; Musée d’art Moderne de Saint-Etienne (2012); The Model, Sligo (2011); Gallery Side 2, Tokyo (2010); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin; ARTSPACE, New Zealand (2008); Project Arts Centre, Dublin (2005). Nolan represented Ireland at the 2005 Venice Biennale in a group exhibition, “Ireland at Venice 2005”. Other recent group shows include Lofoten International Arts Festival (LIAF), Svolvær, Norway; Artspace, Sydney (2015); Wallspace Gallery, New York (2014); Palais de Tokyo, Paris; David Nolan Gallery, New York; Villa Datris, Fondation pour la Sculpture Contemporain, France; Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork (2013); EVA International, Limerick (2012); Stephen Friedman Gallery, London; Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh (2011); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2010); Accademia d’Ungheria, Rome; The Daejeon Museum of Art, South Korea; Bielefelder Kunstverein, Germany; Limerick City Gallery of Art, Ireland; AkkuH, Hengelo, The Netherlands; Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris; Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown, Northern Ireland; SMART Project Space, Amsterdam (2009); Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Stroom Den Haag (2007). Work is held in public collections of the Irish Museum of Modern Art; The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin; Allied Irish Bank; Arts Council of Ireland; Kildare Co. Council and various private collections in Europe and USA. Nolan is represented by Kerlin Gallery, Dublin.MORE
Montreal-based, Kanien’keha:ka artist Skawennati joins us for the first phase of her Field House Residency.
In collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology, Emily Carr University of Art + Design and the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF), a branch of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), she will be leading an intensive workshop called Skins participating in MOA’s Native Youth Program.
Skins will involve six Indigenous youth currently participating in the Native Youth Program, part of an ongoing relationship between CAG and MOA. Hosted at ECUAD, the workshop will begin with an exploration of storytelling as oral tradition folding into how stories can be told in new ways through ‘machinima’ (a portmanteau of “machine” and “cinema”). Using Second Life, an online virtual environment, participants will learn script development and storyboarding, avatar/character creation, virtual set design, filming and editing in a virtual world. Skins aims to expand Indigenous presence online, provide new design skills and impart understanding of narrative structures while also questioning notions of identity and stereotype. The Skins workshop aims to empower Indigenous youth to use new technologies to tell their stories.
She will also begin work toward a new commission to be realized in 2017.
Skawennati is known for her pioneering new media projects that address history, the future and change. They include the on-line gallery/chat-space and mixed-reality event CyberPowWow (1997–2004); a paper doll/ time-travel journal Imagining Indians in the 25th Century (2001); and TimeTraveller™ (2008–2013), a multi-platform project featuring nine machinima episodes. Born in Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, Skawennati is Co-Director with Jason E. Lewis of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), a research network of artists, academics and technologists investigating, creating and critiquing indigenous virtual environments. This year, AbTeC launched IIF, the Initiative for Indigenous Futures.
This project was made possible through the support of the BC Arts Council’s Youth Engagement grant.
The Field House Studio Residency Program is generously supported by Vancouver Park Board and the City of Vancouver, along with many private and individual donors. For 2016–2019 we acknowledge the generous support for the Field House Studio Residency Program by the Vancouver Foundation.
For further details about the program, all forthcoming residencies and associated events visit our website at www.contemporaryartgallery.ca and follow the blog at www.burrardmarinafieldhouse.wordpress.comMORE
Wrapping around the gallery building, the new commission Some words, some more words (2016) by British artist duo John Wood and Paul Harrison, continues their ongoing investigation into the world that surrounds us, the objects we encounter and use daily, and our fundamental engagement with the physical universe in all its sometime or seemingly futile existence. Characteristically playful, phrases are deliberately juxtaposed and positioned against each other to create a fragmentary narrative, drawing our attention to the familiar made strange by altering perceptions of the surrounding architecture and revealing the what and how of how we read language.
John Wood and Paul Harrison live and work in Bristol, UK. Notable solo exhibitions include Von Bartha, Basel; NTT InterCommunication Center, Tokyo; Carroll/Fletcher, London (2015); Museo de Antioquia, Medellin, Columbia (2014); Frist Centre, Nashville, H&R Block Artspace, Kansas and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (2011-12); Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland; University of California, Santa Barbara (2010); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2009); PICA, Perth (2008); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2007); Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK (2005); Tate Britain, London; MoMA, New York; MIT, Boston (2004) and Chisenhale Gallery, London (2002).MORE
April 15 to August 31, 2016
Off-site: Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada Line
This exhibition is part of Capture Photography Festival.
The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a new commission by Jérôme Havre, the artist’s first project in Vancouver. Originally from France, Havre’s work considers representation, circulation, transmission and translation of black identities, interrogating racialized stereotypes and ideologies projected onto bodies.
Drawing directly onto a found family portrait, Untitled (2010) is a blunt gesture. The image depicts a family posed against a vintage car in a tropical landscape, its warm hues of analog colour giving entry to a past generation. Havre disrupts the scene, scrawling doodles of mask-like forms in white-out directly on to each family member’s face, erasing identity and subjectivity, reforming these physical bodies as alien figures.
Masks are objects held in high esteem in western culture. Through centuries of colonial violence and capitalist extraction these specific objects sit in private and museum collections around the world detached from the action, ritual, communities and physical bodies that they were made for. Disembodied heads without voice, these masked bodies are “stilled,” re-contextualized as stand-ins to represent otherness, here a reflection on western perceptions of blackness.
Jérôme Havre lives and works in Toronto having completed his studies at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Since 2001 he has exhibited in Europe, Africa and North America, including most recently Talking Back, Otherwise, Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto; Paradis: La fabrique de l’image, 14N 61W, Martinique; Land Marks, Peterborough Art Gallery, all in 2015. Havre is currently artist in residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario.MORE
May 16 to June 8, 2016
In partnership with Access Gallery and Burrard Arts Foundation’s Twenty-three Days at Sea, CAG hosts artist Amaara Raheem at the Burrard Marina Field House for a one month production period.
Twenty-three Days at Sea offers a unique residency aboard a cargo ship sailing from Vancouver to Shanghai. Raheem, Sri Lankan born, and now based between Melbourne, Australia, and London, UK, is an in(ter)dependent dance artist. Feeding off her own experience of in-betweenness, Raheem’s practice investigates the aesthetics and ethics of mobility, placing language, objects and movement in parallel, in order to embody flux. Currently a PhD Candidate in the School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University, Raheem is ultimately interested in questioning the coherence of systems that humans create to “know” the world around them, creating arrangements that offer uncertainty, play and new possibilities.
Following the residency, Raheem will feature in the group exhibition Twenty-three Days at Sea, Chapter One: Nour Bishouty, Christopher Boyne, Elisa Ferrari and Amaara Raheem which opens at Access Gallery on May 27, 2016.
In Conversation: Amaara Raheem with Kimberly Phillips
With performance by the artist
Thursday, June 2, 2016, 7:00 PM
Burrard Marina Field House Studio, 1655 Whyte Ave
Amaara Raheem is ‘Twenty-Three Days at Sea’s’ fourth artist-in-residence. A Sri Lankan born dance artist, based between Melbourne, Australia, and London, UK, Raheem’s practice places her own body in fluid states to investigate the aesthetics and ethics of mobility. Raheem departed for Shanghai on the MV Hanjin Geneva on April 19, and upon her return from Asia in May, the Contemporary Art Gallery will host her at the CAG Burrard Marina Field House Studio to process the experience and produce her work for the exhibition, which opens May 27, 2016.
At this event, held in her temporary place of residence at the CAG Field House, Raheem and Access Director/Curator Kimberly Phillips will converse about the role of anticipation and imagination in her preparations for the residency voyage, and Raheem will perform a new work in response to her time at sea. More information to follow at accessgallery.ca.
Amaara Raheem is a Sri Lankan born, Melbourne and London based dance artist. Her practice investigates the ethics and aesthetics of mobility, placing language, objects, and movement in parallel, in order to embody flux. She is currently a PhD candidate in the School of Architecture and Design and RMIT Melbourne.
Twenty-Three Days at Sea: A Travelling Artist Residency is an Access Gallery initiative, produced in partnership with the Burrard Arts Foundation and the Contemporary Art Gallery. Partial sponsorship of the sea voyages is graciously offered by Reederei NSB, assistance in Asia by China Residencies and Art Contraste, and at the Port of Vancouver by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Access is grateful for the ongoing support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia government through the BC Arts Council and BC Gaming, the City of Vancouver, and our donors, members, and volunteers.MORE
May 6 to July 17, 2016
The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first major museum exhibition in Canada devoted to the celebrated German photographer Jochen Lempert. Trained as a biologist, Lempert photographs plants, animals and other natural phenomena with both scientific acumen and a poetic appreciation of natural beauty. His approach is scientific as well as humorous. Always working in black and white, his work engages with a diverse range of subjects and genres, ranging from everyday views to abstracted details. Photographic series alternate with single pictures, highly contrasted images with almost blank papers, through which multiple links and subtle associations are woven.
Ranging from medium-sized to small and tiny prints, the exhibition comprises Lempert’s now classic repertoire of flora and fauna, and focuses on a range of work produced over the last five years that examines the indexical nature of photography itself, notions of time and connections to the history of image making, mutability, classification and materiality. The subject of interest of Lempert’s work—animal life—is complemented by his exploration of the properties and materiality of the photographic image, as revealed in its developing and printing processes. While seemingly serendipitous, Lempert nevertheless pursues a very clear goal and aesthetic. His is a very careful, subtle world.
In Vancouver the exhibition is generously supported by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V. Organized by the Contemporary Art Gallery Vancouver in collaboration with the Cincinnati Art Museum.
Jochen Lempert lives and works in Hamburg, Germany. Selected solo exhibitions include Cincinnati Art Museum (2015); ProjecteSD, Barcelona, Spain; Overbeck-Gesellschaft Verein von Kunstfreunden e.V., Lübeck, Germany; Städtische Galerie Nordhorn, Germany (2014); Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany; Lulu, Mexico City, Mexico; Norma Mangione gallery, Torino, Italy (2013); Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis; Rochester Art Center, Rochester (2012); Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Front Room. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Saint Louis (2010); Domaine de Kerguéhennec Centre d’Art Contemporain, Bignan, France; Culturgest, Lisbon, Portugal (2009). His work has recently been included in group exhibitions at Fotomuseum Antwerp, Belgium; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Germany; Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Vienna, Austria; Fondation D’Enterprise Ricard, Paris; The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Marian Goodman, Paris; Biennial for Contemporary Art; FRAC Bretagne, Rennes, France; Heidelberger Kunstverein, Germany; Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany; and the Paris Triennial, amongst many others. His work is held in many public collections including: Fundació „La Caixa“, Barcelona, Spain; Colección Banco de España, Madrid, Spain; CNAP, Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris, France; FRAC Bretagne, Rennes, France; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; Fondation Norac, Rennes, France; Les Abbatoirs–Musée d’art modern et contemporain and Frac Midi-Pyrénées, Toulouse, France; Museum Ludwig Köln; Museum Folkwang Essen; and Kunstmuseum Bonn, amongst many others. In 2005 Lempert was the winner of the Edwin-Scharff Preis, Hamburg and was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014. He is represented by ProjecteSD, Barcelona.MORE