White, Steel, Slice, Mask
September 10, 2016 – January 1, 2017
Bear Claws Salad Hands
Off-site: Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada Line
September 10, 2016 – March 19, 2017
The Contemporary Art Gallery presents an ambitious new multi-venue commission by collaborators Dutch artist Mirjam Linschooten and Canadian artist Sameer Farooq, interrogating the ways in which cultural diversity is narrated and represented. Working together for over a decade, the duo’s interdisciplinary practice creates community-based models of participation in order to reimagine a material record of the present. Utilizing installation, photography, design and writing, they investigate the tactics and methods of anthropology to examine various forms of collecting, interpretation and display. The result is work that reveals how institutions speak about our lives, evoking an archeology of the present often existing beyond the framework of the gallery. Their expansive projects develop intricate, speculative archives repurposing found objects and language to expose ruptures within cultural representation, questioning the invisibility of the archivist and interrogating the inherent value bias in collecting.
Over the past year, Farooq and Linschooten have undertaken a series of cumulative research trips via the Burrard Marina Field House Studio Residency Program toward the development of installations at CAG, the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station and the Museum of Anthropology (MOA). Core to the various commissions are participatory workshops led by the artists with the Native Youth Program (NYP) at MOA, a program for Indigenous youth from Greater Vancouver where students engage in various aspects of working within a museum context, leading public tours, completing research projects and participating in presentations. Farooq and Linschooten invited NYP participants to consider their personal narratives in relation to the anthropological museum’s displays, identifying key elements for examination in the Multiversity Galleries. Throughout the histories of colonialism and capitalism innumerable cultural objects have entered museum collections around the world detached from the communities and physical bodies they belong to. Ripped from context and trapped behind glass, rearranged and discombobulated, the cultural authenticity, specificity and vitality of these objects are dismembered into taxonomies of otherness. Within the window spaces at CAG, Farooq and Linschooten consider such acts of ethnographic curation. Reflecting tensions between local communities and their representation in museums, Farooq and Linschooten focus on ongoing cultural forms that persist in contemporary culture. Replicating, yet also subverting, the supposed objective aesthetic of museum vitrines, Farooq and Linschooten have installed a collection of mass-produced cultural objects purchased from shops across the lower mainland, notionally representative of Vancouver’s largest immigrant communities. Display mechanisms such as shelves, hooks and bars are used to disrupt and unsettle the objects, disturbing the meticulous arrangement and suggestive of the uneasy relations between the conserved and custodian, artifact and everyday object, revealing the unintended violence of display.
At Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Farooq and Linschooten repurpose found language from a local souvenir shop highlighting the active commodification of culture. During their time in Vancouver, the artists discovered Hudson House Trading Company, a typical tourist store in Gastown selling a plethora of Canadian ‘knick-knacks’ that capitalize on perceptions of Vancouver’s identity via a collection of cultural reproductions for sale. Through the simple act of reproducing the language of the store’s inventory list and applying the names of a selection of items directly onto the station windows, the Canada Line façade operates like an advert exaggerating the wholesale co-opting of culture as currency.
The re-appropriation of found images, objects and language developed into public installations both exaggerate and subvert the ethnographic strategies of representation and implicate such practices into a larger system of commodification utilized to propagate cultural hierarchy, difference and discrimination.
Projects are generously supported by the BC Arts Council Innovations Program, the Mondriaan Fund and the Hamber Foundation. Farooq and Linschooten’s collaboration with the Native Youth Program is developed in collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology. The project at Yaletown- Roundhouse Station is presented in partnership with the Canada Line Public Art Program — IntransitBC.
The interdisciplinary practice of Sameer Farooq (Canada) and Mirjam Linschooten (Netherlands) can be situated as an expanded documentary practice, presenting counter archive’s, new additions to museum collections or making buried histories visible. Their work has been exhibited in various countries, including; Belgium, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey. Recent projects include The Figure in the Carpet, Blackwood Gallery, Toronto (2015); Faux Guide, Trankat, Morocco (2014); The Museum of Found Objects, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2011); The Museum of Found Objects, Sanat Limani, Istanbul (2010) and Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, Artellewa, Cairo (2014)
The Big Draw
Saturday October, 1, 12–3pm
Free, drop-in activities
At CAG, 555 Nelson Street
As our contribution to this city-wide festival, CAG will present Walking a Line, a series of collaborative drawing experiences for all ages are created by students as part of Community, Collaboration and Pedagogy, a studio course with Emily Carr University of Art and Design hosted by CAG.
Jamie Chen, Madison Mayhew, Mary Seto, John Song and Patrick Takata
Create a drawing inspired by a story on a colourful sheet of paper. Learn how to fold your story into an origami link that will be joined with others to make one long continuous chain of different cultural stories.
Blind Drawing Workshop
Claudia Adiwijaya, Lexi Hilderman, Kayla Heald, Karen Nguyen and Nushin Yazdani
“Can you draw? No? Perfect, this workshop is for you! In this workshop you will have fun creating drawings without looking at them. These drawings will inspire you to share thoughts, questions and ideas that emerge while drawing.
Connect the Dots Walk
Mariah Brusatore, Michael King, Mo Qutob and Justine Zimmerman
This special guide will lead you on a drawing inspired walk from the CAG to ArtStarts while providing interesting social and historical information about the area. Activities in the booklet include texture rubbings, eye spy, tracing and observational drawing.
Drawing on the City Walk
Andrea Landivar Einstoss, Hana Kujawa and Emma Plested
With sidewalk chalk attached to sticks, we will be creating drawings that use the city as a canvas. As we walk we will create a pathway of colourful lines, stopping to create drawings based on things we see along the way.
Presented as part of The Big Draw, the world’s largest drawing festival and Culture Days, a Canada-wide celebration that raises the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities.
For more information and workshop times visit: www.drawvancouver.comMORE
Curatorial assistant Lanna Lastiwka reports on her experiences of assisting artists Sameer Farooq and Mirjam Linschooten with preparation for the installation of their exhibition White, Steel, Slice, Mask in the CAG window spaces.
Installing White, Steel, Slice, Mask posed a physical challenge due to the narrow space in the CAG windows. Installing was difficult! on reaching up to paint the last white space black in the display window, I tried to turn horizontally, but couldn’t. I was stuck. The only way I could move in eight inches of space was vertically. Shimming along the edge of the small platform, inside the window, I could only look directly at the wall or through the glass onto the street, without turning. I created a variety of poses from bending with one leg up behind me (to keep me balanced) to crouching and reaching, with one foot in front of the other, while juggling a paint brush, measuring tape, nails and art objects. The intimacy of the space caught the attention of many casual observers who not only responded to my struggles, but the cultural and religious pieces being installed in the windows.
The challenge the artists and Kay Slater (the head installer) faced was creatively melding the reality of such a unique space with the artists’ vision through intense construction and artistic planning. Since I could only see a few inches away from my face, it was difficult to gauge if every black paint stroke was dark enough, or if drill holes from previous exhibitions were noticeable to the viewer on the street, or if every bracket and shelf was placed correctly.
We decided to install in parts. First, the brackets and shelves individually, then, placed the art pieces one at a time, allowing us to see the overall artistic effect at the very end. Yet, it only took a couple of religious or cultural objects being placed in the windows for passers-by to take notice.
The East Indian window had only a few shelves and religious objects in it when I had my first interaction. Balancing on one leg and stretching towards the far wall in a ballet-esque pose, I began dusting the shelves in preparation for more objects. Looking up through the glass I noticed an elderly Hindi man. He watched me gently weave through the objects to the far shelf with a cloth. He waited until I was finished and asked me about moving in the enclosed space: if it was difficult? did I like it? why install these objects in such a closed space? was I claustrophobic? and was I afraid to break or smash one of the pieces because of the tight space?
During our conversation about the space, he smiled and began to tell me the significance and history of the religious objects and images in the window. Afterwards, I realized that the nature of the space led to interactions about the objects being installed. It lured people into the intimate space, so that they could connect with what was being displayed.
Over the last couple of months I had the pleasure of working with artist duo Sameer Farooq and Mirjam Linschooten on their window installation exhibition: White, Steel, Slice, Mask.
My work started with the logistical planning of installing in seven windows with a depth of a mere eight inches. The challenge of maneuvering in this small narrow space coupled with installing a range of objects from; an antique horse figure, masks, ceramics to a whole window of paper plates. This challenge was met by great ambition by the amazing installation team.
I have visually documented the progress of the install from start to finish with some great pictures of our team working hard, take a look above in the slide viewer.
White Steel, Slice, Mask is on display until January 8,2017. Don’t forget to visit Yaletown-Roundhouse Station for Sameer Farooq and Mirjam Linschooten’s second installation and CAG commission Bear Claws Salad Hands also on display until January 8, 2017.
Currently in August, interdisciplinary artists Sameer Farooq (Canada) and Mirjam Linschooten (France) are spending 2 weeks at the Burrard Marina Field House. Their combined practices aim to create community-based models of participation and knowledge production in order to re-imagine a material record of the present. They investigate tactics of representation and enlist the tools of installation, photography, documentary filmmaking, writing and the methods of anthropology to explore various forms of collecting, interpreting, and display. The result is often a collaborative work which counterbalances how dominant institutions speak about our lives: a counter-archive, alternate narrative, new additions to a museum collection, or a buried history become visible.
Farooq is currently working as a visual artist, educator, designer, and is a member of the documentary film collective Smoke Signal Projects as director. His artist book/print editions have been distributed through Art Metropole, Toronto. Linschooten works as an independent graphic designer and artist. She works with all types of print, such as books, magazines and posters, using typography and collage to transform existing material into a visual language that challenges established systems.
Farooq and Linschooten interrogate the ideas and values of organizations, claims about what a cultural group is and “ought to be”, protocols of approaching an object and images of who the intended viewer is – and use installation, photography, documentary filmmaking, writing and the methods of anthropology to examine various forms of collecting, interpreting and display. The result is often a collaborative work which counterbalances how institutions speak about our lives, producing a counter-archive. Related to these questions Farooq and Linschooten will begin development towards a Vancouver-specific public project engaging the ways Vancouver frames its multiculturalism via ethnographic museum display.
Farooq and Linschooten have exhibited in various countries including Belgium, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey. Recent projects include Faux Guide, Trankat, Morocco; The Museum of Found Objects, Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario; The Museum of Found Objects, Istanbul, Turkish Ministry of Culture; Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, Artellewa, Egypt. Most recently the duo completed a residency and exhibition at Blackwood Gallery, Mississauga, Ontario which explores the complex space of social codes, ideological agendas and decisions, both conscious and unconscious, of museum display. Sameer Farooq (Canada) and Mirjam Linschooten (France) collaborate on projects.
– Shalon Webber-Heffernan, CAG Learning AssistantMORE
Similar to the myths told in many large, cosmopolitan cities, Vancouver seeks strength through the telling of its cultural diversity. During my research residency at the Burrard Marina Field House Studio, I had the opportunity to visit a variety of institutions charged with cultural vitality. Time after time I was confronted by the awkwardness, sincerity, humour, and impossibility of such a project.
This spirit is not only evident in the stories exchanged between visitors to and residents of the city, but is calcified in its institutional counterparts: the ethnographic museum, the cultural centre, the theme park, the gift shop, and the tourist office. Together, these places dispense a type of ethnographic currency that both maintains an order and projects a hope for the city to be the best it can be. What is at stake when a city defines itself in terms of the cultural populations that make it up?
Visiting the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden, a perfect replica of a Ming Dynasty Garden, was to be confronted with ideas that were vastly different from Vancouver’s Chinatown just beyond its walls, and again indecipherable from the modern, sprawling, predominantly-Chinese suburb of Richmond just beyond Vancouver. Within the pleasant confines of the garden (and its gift shop), books on Zen Buddhism, authentic jade jewelry, and Tibetan textiles, spoke a very different language than the world just outside. What is the function of distilling culture to objects, who is acting as the cultural translator between groups, and who is the assumed audience for such systems of display? A visit to the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) revealed a much more tightly curated experience, but similar questions persisted. Facing an impressive collection of encased objects from many corners of the earth, I wondered why the display of ethnographic material aims to compartmentalize, order, and control something that we know is fluid, dynamic and contradictory.
The focus of my continued work in Vancouver will play with the notion of ethnographic currency, who is the subject of ethnography and who is not, the materialization of cultural groups, and the display systems enlisted to communicate this material to an audience. In 2015 I will continue to research these areas with my longtime collaborator Mirjam Linschooten. Continuing to work with the supportive team at the CAG and within the inspiring cultural community of Vancouver is something I look forward to with great anticipation.
– Sameer FarooqMORE