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Exhibitions

Shannon Bool
The Flight of the Medici Mamluk

January 23 to April 19, 2015
Off-site: Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada Line

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents an ambitious new commission at the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station by Canadian artist Shannon Bool. Originally from Vancouver Island, she attended Emily Carr University before studying in New York, Frankfurt and moving to Berlin.

Bool typically references a wide variety of historical and monumental decorative objects in her work, from Michelangelo’s David to the ornamentation on Etruscan tombs. While the Tuscan themes in recent projects specifically developed during her 2013 residency at the Villa Romana in Florence, her reinterpretation of these objects is characteristic of her practice in commenting on the role of decorative arts within art history, as well as on the change in meaning that occurs through the replication and alteration of significant and well known items.

For the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Bool has worked with a photographer to document the 16th Century Egyptian Medici Mamluk carpet, recently rediscovered stored in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy.  Mamluk style carpets figured significantly in Mediterranean commerce, appearing in Venetian paintings of this time, and are characterized by a central medallion surrounded by a variety of smaller geometric motifs, forming a kaleidoscopic appearance, the palette limited to red, blue, green and yellow tones. In many such carpets the vast and complex patterns suggest notions of eternity and evoke cosmic associations with Buddhist thought. While undoubtedly they should not be read as some form of direct mapping of philosophical intent, the designs themselves may be influenced by such ideas from central Asia and also reflect patterns in Moorish architecture which connect to similar philosophical readings of mathematical logic and infinity.

By combining patterns from and with historical vernacular objects, Bool’s interventions play with the mechanical reproduction of geometric sources and iconography. In previous work taking impetus from floor surfaces, Bool made Casino Runner (Aztec Inn) by blowing up a segment of a cheap wall-to-wall carpet encountered at a Las Vegas casino hotel. The original carpet was laden with random appropriations from ancient Aztec culture and Anatolian ornaments, which the artist underlined in having her version hand woven by Turkish weavers. The casino itself is a throwback to the iconic Art Deco monument, the Aztec Hotel that still operates in Monrovia, California. American Art Deco used the powerful geometry of ancient Mexican civilizations to break from European aesthetic traditions. Bool’s carpet, exquisitely hand-knotted by traditional village weavers in Anatolia, Turkey, heightens – even fetishizes – the production values combining the sublime and hysterical experience of entering a casino with the distinctly Eastern reading of a Western sensibility.

Here, Bool has painstakingly pieced together images of the Mamluk carpet for the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, itself unusual due to its gigantic size and pristine condition, to reproduce the whole carpet at almost exact scale across the glass façade of the building. Amazing in its detail, intricacy and partial signs of use, the image records literally and metaphorically both the patterns and passages of time, in much the same way as the busy station is itself an embodiment of a space of people passing through. Suspended in the everyday space of the station and tilted as if afloat, the work shows some of the mathematical and geometrical sensibilities that are seldom acknowledged but directly influenced renaissance thought.

This will be the first new commission by Bool with the Contemporary Art Gallery during 2015, a second project to evolve for late spring.

Presented in partnership with the Canada Line Public Art Program – IntransitBC.

Shannon Bool lives and works in Berlin. Solo exhibitions include: The Fourth Wall Through the Third Eye, Galerie Kadel Willborn, Düsseldorf; Walk Like an Etruscan, Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto (2013); The Inverted Harem II, Bonner Kunstverein (2011);  CRAC Alsace, Altkirch, France; The Inverted Harem, GAK-Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen (2010); RMIT Project Space, Melbourne, Australia (2008). Group exhibitions include MMK2 Boom She Boom, Works from the MMK Collection, Frankfurt; The Klöntal Triennale, Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland (2014); Soft Pictures, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaugengo, Turin; Painting Forever!, KW, Berlin; Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Toronto (2013); the Sprengel Museum, Hannover (2012); 7×14, Kunsthalle Baden-Baden; Tactical Support, Gallery Tracy Williams, New York; Rock Opera, CACP Museum of Contemporary Art, Bordeaux (2009); Drawing on Sculpture: Graphic Interventions on the Photographic Surface, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2007); Make Your Move, Projects Arts Centre, Dublin; Spiralen der Erinnerung, Kunstverein in Hamburg; Carbonic Anhydride, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin (2006). Work is held in the collections of Berlinische Galerie Landesmuseum Fur Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur, Berlin; MMK Museum fur Modern Kunst, Frankfurt am Main; Lenbachhaus, Munich, and the Saatchi Collection, London. She is represented by Kadel Willborn Gallery in Düsseldorf and Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto.

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Shannon Bool - The Flight of the Medici Mamluk


Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society is a new film installation by German artist Grace Schwindt which revisits discussions she witnessed as a child surrounded by individuals in Frankfurt, Germany. The dialogue running through the film is from an interview that Schwindt conducted with a leftwing activist influenced by the 1960s and 1970s political landscape, shaped by the Frankfurt School, the Outer Parliamentary Opposition and the Baader Meinhof Gang.

Rather than aiming to gain a better understanding of the past, Schwindt attempts to take a system apart — to undo it. Nothing is assumed to be neutral and every movement, word, gesture or colour is understood to have cultural, social, political or economic implications. The artist constructs her own processes of translating language into vivid material, choreographing dancers, set, props, costume, lighting, sound, camera movement and words as elementary forms carrying symbolic power. Each element is equally important and should be read together as a melody where the words or functions of ‘chair’ or ‘terrorism’, ‘clothing’ or ‘freedom’ have equal status.

At feature film length Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society is the product of an extensive rehearsal period with eleven dancers and a dramaturge over a period of five weeks using diagrams to map out a detailed choreography. The film features highly coloured and geometric costumes using aluminium, cardboard, silk and velvet, as well as extensive post-production to create a narrative that questions how freedom was, and is, understood, who has access to it and what political and social structures need to be in place to create a free society. Alongside the installation the exhibition included a newly commissioned sculptural piece, redolent of images pictured in the film. Constructed from salt crystals, bronze and ceramic, it has a bodily suggestion, evoking a sense of place and subject through its shape, materiality and form.

Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society’ was commissioned by FLAMIN Productions through Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network, Eastside Projects, Birmingham; The Showroom, London; Badischer Kunstverein; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Site Gallery, Sheffield; Tramway, Glasgow; ICIA, University of Bath; and Zeno X Gallery. Supported by Arts Council England, Hessian Film Fund and The Jerwood Charitable Foundation.

Presented with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

Grace Schwindt (born 1979, Germany) is an artist based in London working with film, live performance and sculpture. Her theatrical sets for film works use minimal architectural elements and props to mark a location, in which she places bodies including her own. Using a tightly scripted choreography in which every move relates to institutionalised systems she investigates how social relations and understandings about oneself are formed, often through acts of exclusion and destruction. The artist’s interviews with individuals often serve as a starting point for fictionalised dialogues delivered by performers. Represented by Zeno X Gallery in Antwerp, her work is distributed by Argos Centre for Media and Art. Recent solo presentations include South London Gallery; ICA, London; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Spill Festival, Basement, Brighton; Collective Gallery, Edinburgh and White Columns, New York. Schwindt was shortlisted for this year’s Jarman Film Award.

Running time: 80 min

Screening times: 12pm, 1.30pm, 3.00pm, 4.30pm daily during gallery opening hours

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Grace Schwindt - Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society


The Contemporary Art Gallery presented the first solo exhibition of Canadian artist Krista Belle Stewart, the culmination of fall 2014 residencies at the Nisga’a Museum and Western Front comprising new works developed in Nisga’a and at her ancestral home in Douglas Lake, BC.

Stewart’s practice reclaims personal and cultural narratives from archival material, situating them in dialogue with contemporary Indigenous discourse and engaging the complexities of intention and interpretation. In relation to this reframing of documents, Stewart’s new installation considers First Nations women’s self-representation and sovereignty. Working with her personal stories and those of the women she met in Nisga’a, Stewart investigates how cultural knowledge is created and exchanged, weaving together new lens-based works with archival photographs and objects from Nisga’a.

Central to the exhibition was an ongoing project, a bucket filled with distinctive dried clay from land owned by Stewart on the Douglas Lake reservation, and passed down to her from her mother’s family. Not only is this a physical connection to her heritage but also a response to the continued dispossession of First Nations women’s land rights. The projections in the exhibition depicted two geographically and culturally diverse landscapes, showing personal stories rooted in an understanding of place evoking a diversity of embedded experiences on Indigenous land.

In 1998 the Nisga’a Nation signed a treaty with the BC and Canadian governments that recognized their land sovereignty and right of self-government, the first to be signed in the province since the 1850s. Such recent challenges to government control of Indigenous lands, also including the current fight against Kinder Morgan and the Northern Gateway pipelines and “Idle No More”, highlight a growing urgency in First Nations communities to detach from Canada’s colonial confines. Although delineated by the Canadian government, both reservation and sovereign lands offer potential in developing new and revived connections with pre-colonial First Nations economic and political traditions.

Opened in 2011 in the town of Laxgalts’ap (also known as Greenville), the Nisga’a Museum holds over 300 repatriated cultural objects that have been absent from the community for over a century. It is a multifarious space operating as a potential economic driver in the community as both a monument to and entry point into Nisga’a culture, while also existing as a site seeking to develop intimate dialogues among contemporary Nisga’a and their ancestors. While hosting a permanent installation that utilizes the tropes of colonial histories through the development of a linear and didactic narrative of Nisga’a culture, it is also an institution evolving through engagement with local community. Lacking detailed archival notes on each object, the museum has focused on connecting Nisga’a oral histories with these artefacts through tours and ongoing conversations with community elders. The Nisga’a is made up of four pdeek (tribes): Laxsgiik (Eagle), Gisk’aast (Killer Whale), Ganada (Raven), and Laxgibuu (Wolf). With ceremonies, customs and histories specific to each tribe there are layers of conflicting interpretations and information for many objects in the collection. Through the repatriation of their material cultural history is emerging a contemporary revival of precolonial traditions, asserting the museum as platform for active knowledge exchange across generations and offering opportunities for personal and collective decolonization.

Alongside new works Stewart selected pieces from the Nisga’a Museum including an image showing a Nisga’a woman in a full chief’s regalia surrounded by men dressed in traditional and western clothing. Originally shot by Benjamin Haldane, a Tsimshian photographer from Alaska who travelled throughout the Nass Valley area in the early 1900s actively documenting the people of his community until his death in 1941. Recording a time of great cultural and social upheaval on the northwest coast his images of families, social events and traditional ceremonies such as potlatches (illegal at the time) document a contemporary and evolving culture. Haldane’s photographs offer an example of First Nations self-representation, a counter to the more usual colonial-settler’s gaze.

There is a kinship between Haldane’s and Stewart’s practices through the production of complex and diverse documents of First Nations self-representation. Within this Stewart infiltrates male-centered narratives of colonial culture and reasserts connections to pre-colonial matriarchal traditions while considering the tensions present between the institution as colonial support structure and a living entity shaped by the community it represents.

This project was made possible with the generous support provided by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, British Columbia Arts Council, the Nisga’a Nation through the Nisga’a Lisims Government. Production was supported through a Media Arts Residency at the Western Front. Additional assistance provided by Budget Car and Truck Rental, Terrace.

Krista Belle Stewart is a member of the Upper Nicola Band of the Okanagan Nation, living and working in Vancouver and Brooklyn. Exhibitions include Fiction/Non-fiction at The Esker Foundation, Calgary and Music from the New Wilderness, Western Front, Vancouver. At Western Front, Stewart produced a collaborative multimedia performance working with, circa 1918, waxcylinder recordings by anthropologist James Alexander Teit of her great-grandmother, Terese Kaimetko. A string quartet responded live to Stewart’s loops of these traditional Okanagan songs presented alongside visual projections. Most recently, Stewart was commissioned by the City of Vancouver as part of the “Year of Reconciliation,” Public Art Project at the entrance to the Canada Line City Centre Station at Granville and Georgia where Stewart’s Her Story, a public photo mural and video installation, utilized footage of a CBC documentary entitled Seraphine: Her Own Story, a scripted interpretation of her mother’s journey from residential school to becoming BC’s first Aboriginal public health nurse. This work was also exhibited in Where Does it Hurt? at Artspeak. Stewart juxtaposes the 1967 film, in which her mother plays herself, alongside a video of her mother’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission interview, generating a conversation between depiction and lived experience.

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Krista Belle Stewart - Motion and Moment Always


Lotte van den Berg
Cinema Imaginaire
February 4 to ’6, 3pm and February 7 “to 8, 10:30 am and 3pm
110-“750 Hamilton Street (meeting point)
150 min, no intermission, $36
www.ticketstonight.ca
604 605 8284 ext.200

It happens in small groups, at an outdoor location. You will be given a series of assignments — say, focusing on a given object, or watching a certain person walk down the street. It’s not nearly as simple as it sounds and, as they say, results may vary. You may gain a sense of how your sight has been conditioned over a lifetime. You may realize, with dismay, how little you actually notice of what crosses your eyes every day. You may discover something beautiful, even revelatory, that you’d ignored a thousand times in your life. What van den Berg gives us is a sensory adventure, a reminder of how much our perception can be altered, and, on a simpler level, a reintroduction to the pleasures of the senses. There’s beauty all around us — all you have to do is look. Please note: This performance involves walking, and takes place in parts outdoors, rain or shine.

Presented with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

Lotte van den Berg works in the realms of theatre, cinema and dance, performing in North America, Europe and Africa. Her work
is defined by its concern for everyday reality and for uniting theatre and audiences. Her current projects are Cinema Imaginaire and Building Conversation; in both works audience members become active participants. Past works include Les Spectateurs (2010) and Agoraphobia (2011–2012).

Creator: Lotte van den Berg | Dramaturg: Sodja Lotker | Guide: Howard Lotker | Producer: Antwan Cornelissen | Publicity: Karin van de Wiel | Manager: Anneke Tonen | Location Scouts: Other Sites* Developed in collaboration with Het Huis Utrecht and part of Festivals in Transition / Global City Local City with support of the Culture Programme of the European Union. Funded by the City of Utrecht and the KfHeinfun. Supported by Performing Arts Fund NL.

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Lotte van den Berg - Cinema Imaginaire


Contemporary Art Gallery and Ballet BC:  Build a unique art-dance commission

The CAG and Ballet BC in association with the Art|Basel Crowdfunding Initiative are excited to announce a new project.

For our project, selected by independent jury for Art|Basel’s curated page on Kickstarter, we are commissioning visual artists John Wood and Paul Harrison to team with the renowned dancers of Ballet BC, to produce a collaborative cross-disciplinary performance combining the very best in both contemporary dance and visual art.

Read more about the project here: http://bit.ly/cagXbbc

Or go to the Art|Basel Crowdfunding Initiative page here: https://www.kickstarter.com/pages/artbasel?ref=artbasel

The funds will be used to bring the visual artists to Vancouver for an intensive development period during spring and fall 2015 with the premiere in 2016.

The collaboration between CAG and Ballet BC recognizes the distinctive contribution each of us brings to the project, making the whole much bigger than the sum of its constituent parts. Our supporters are a major part of this, extending that partnership into a broader sense of sharing and building a real community involvement in this dynamic venture.

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John Wood & Paul Harrison - CAG/Ballet BC: Build a unique art/dance commission


Shimabuku
When Sky Was Sea
November 21, 2014 to January 11, 2015
B.C. Binning and Alvin Balkind Galleries

The Contemporary Art Gallery presented the first large-scale survey exhibition in North America of work by renowned Japanese artist Shimabuku. Demonstrating the breadth of the artist’s practice, works revealed an essential correspondence to things elsewhere in a wider world, insisting on our grasp of the continuity that exists between art and (non-art) life. As he travels the world, interacting with strangers, and conversing with nature, Shimabuku instigates moments of poetry, humour and surprise.

Including pieces dating back to the mid-1990s, when he first emerged as an artist in Japan, through to presenting a wide variety of more recent work for which he has since become internationally celebrated, the exhibition exemplifies an extraordinary curiosity and freedom of expression. Shimabuku uses installation, video, photography, drawings, sculpture and events alike to convey his intense fascination with the natural world—equally the animal and vegetable realms—and the countless manifestations of human culture within it. His artistic proposition is essentially one of storytelling and discovery. He encourages us to assume an “alien” identity whereby we break with established habits of perception and enjoy experiences as if they are happening to us for the first time.

From the beginning, incongruity has characterised much of Shimabuku’s work, seen in early performances such as Tour of Europe with One Eyebrow Shaved (1991) or Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere (1994), the gentle surrealism of the works is compelling. Shimabuku is not so interested in discovering the reasons why, instead preoccupied, through a joyful approach, with unions of myth or mystery and the everyday. This is epitomized by Something that Floats / Something that Sinks (2008), a work through which the artist draws our attention to the fact that some pieces of fruit and vegetables float in water or appear to swim, while others sink. It is wonderful and ostensibly miraculous.

The inversion of the way things are conventionally seen to be is crucial to Shimabuku’s practice. He is interested in what is normal being made strange and often picks up the theme of the journey in his work, the means by which difference occurs through translation in both time and space. The photograph Cucumber Journey (2000) commemorates a two week performance travelling slowly north on British canals while learning to pickle vegetables. He has stated, “I think cooking and art are similar. They are both about unexpected meetings of far-away ingredients, to create something delicious, something good”. In his video Then, I decided to give a tour of Tokyo to the octopus from Akashi (2000) we see him with an octopus in a fishtank taking a Shinkansen train to Tokyo. There they make touristic visits to the Tokyo Tower and the famous Tsukiji fish market before getting back on the train for a return trip so that the octopus can be submerged again, back home in the Akashi Sea. The artist refers to this work as his Apollo project, involving as it did an adventure far from the natural habitat of the octopus – the fishtank being the equivalent of a spacecraft – isolated from the surrounding atmosphere so that the octopus could survive its voyage into unfamiliarity. We easily imagine how weird our world must have seemed to the octopus whilst being reminded of how “wonderful” such a creature is from our point of view.

The involvement of others, not only in the consumption but also the production of his work, marks Shimabuku out as a major figure in the recent development of relational art practice. He has produced many events, interventions and performances that are very open to audiences, to the point that they become active participants. When the Earth Turned to Sea (2002) requires dozens of volunteers to fly Chinese fish kites, the result is a shoal of fish in the sky – or a flock of fish – and so the world is turned upside down. Passing through the rubber band (2000), similarly invites gallery visitors to step through the stretching loops, a simple act of fun and wonder via the most modest of means, as in all of his works the marvellous emerges from the mundane.

The exhibition is complementary to and produced in partnership with Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK and Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland.

Shimabuku (1969, born in Kobe, Japan) lives and works in Berlin. Selected solo exhibitions include: Sea and Flowers, Barbara Wien Wilma Lukatsch, Berlin; City in the sea, Air de Paris, Paris; Flying Me, Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (2014); Something that Floats/Something that Sinks, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK and Noto, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (2013); Leaves Swim, Nogueras Blanchard, Barcelona, Spain (2012); Man should try to avoid contact with alien life forms, Centre international d’art et du paysage de l’Île de Vassivière, Vassivière, France; On the water, CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux (2011); The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2009); DAAD galerie, Berlin; Wilkinson Gallery (2007); Swansea Jack Memorial Dog Swimming Competition, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea (2003); Then, I Decided To Give a Tour of Tokyo To the Octopus From Akashi, Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris (2002); America, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan (1994).

He has participated in several group exhibitions including: The Great Acceleration, Taipei Biennial , Taipei Fine Arts Museum (2014);  Aquatopia, Tate St. Ives and Nottingham Contemporary, UK; Re: emerge, Sharjah Biennial 11, UAE (2013); Mount Fuji does not exist, Frac Île de France – Le Plateau, Paris (2012); Impossible Community, Moscow Museum of Modern Art; Kaza Ana/Air Hole: Another Conceptualism from Asia, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; International Triennale of Contemporary Art, Yokohama (2011); Eating the Universe: Food in Art, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany (2009); Between Art and Life, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Genève, Switzerland; Experimenta FOLKLORE, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Germany (2008); Beautiful New World: Contemporary Visual Culture from Japan, Long March Project, Beijing, China; How to live together, MAC: Museo de Arte, Belo Horizonte, Brazil (2007); How to live together, 27th Bienal de São Paulo; Berlin-Tokyo Tokyo-Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; International 06, Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool (2006); Expat-Art Centre, ICA, London + Musee de Art Contemporain, Lyon, France (2004); Utopia Station, 50th Venice Biennale, Venice (2003); Facts of Life, Hayward Gallery, London (2001); Elysian Fields, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2000); Space, Witte de With, Rotterdam (1999);  Everyday, 11th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (1998).  Shimabuku is represented by NoguerasBlanchard Gallery, Barcelona and Madrid; Air de Paris galerie de’art contemporain, Paris and Barbara Wien Wilma Lukatsch Gallery, Berlin.

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Shimabuku - When Sky Was Sea


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