Writing in 1857, only a few short decades after the “invention” of photography, the art historian and critic Elizabeth Eastlake describes the photographic image as one that approaches us from the future and arrives in the present. While referring to the new technologies in chemical photography at the time, Eastlake’s comment might also be interpreted more portentously, as critical theorist Kaja Silverman suggests in The Miracle of Analogy: The History of Photography, Part I, as an invitation to upend canonical readings of photographs, which emphasize their simultaneous demonstration of “this-has-been” and “this-is-no-more.” The presumption that what we see when we look at a photograph is unalterable, Silverman suggests, “contributes to the political despair that afflicts so many of us today: our sense that the future is ‘all used up.’” Instead, she posits, we should consider photography as “the world’s primary way of revealing itself to us – of demonstrating that it exists, and that it will forever exceed us.” Here, the photograph becomes a tool with speculative potential, rather than one with simply the power to memorialize.
The Blue Hour extends from this premise to rethink our assumptions about the photograph’s relationship to time. Making reference to the brief period of twilight at dawn and dusk when temporal linearity appears to momentarily hover in a state of suspension, the exhibition presents works by five Canadian and international artists – Joi T. Arcand, Kapwani Kiwanga, Colin Miner, Grace Ndiritu, and Kara Uzelman – that collectively act as a proposition to consider the futurity of the photographic image. We might understand this “blue hour” as analogous to the photographic event, whether political, geological, cosmological or philosophical, which as literary theorist Eduardo Cadava has claimed, “interrupts the present; […] occurs between the present and itself, between the movement of time and itself.”MORE
Off-site: A New Path to the Waterfall
Lord Strathcona Elementary School, Vancouver
September 11, 2017 – June 29, 2018
This autumn we begin an ambitious public project with US artist Harrell Fletcher, engaging a broad range of Vancouver school students, residents and artists in a series of participatory projects reflecting the artist’s interest in bringing art and life together.MORE
For some, there may be something vaguely familiar about the giant image that is currently installed in the Contemporary Art Gallery’s windows. What appears as a huge, empty landscape is actually vinyl from a billboard ad for Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” campaign salvaged by Toronto-based artist Kelly Jazvac. Originally measuring over 70 feet, the billboard was intended to promote the photographic abilities of the iPhone 6.
Stretched across the CAG’s facade, Ambient Advertising (2016) provides viewers with the rare opportunity to engage up close with the sheer scale of advertisement through the repurposed vinyl. In Jazvac’s hands, the vinyl has been meticulously sliced and made to fit in the CAG’s windows. The once glossy, enticing surface of the image is interrupted by cuts that allow for a more critical engagement with the vinyl’s texture and movement. What seems at first like a pristine image of a vast landscape becomes troubled by the disposable material it creates and the ironic implications it has for the environment it depicts.
Much of Kelly Jazvac’s work incorporates discarded vinyl into new compositions, reviving thrown-away material and touching on environment concerns like pollution. Her installation and sculptural pieces often have a playfulness to them—check out the cowboy hanging upside down inside the gallery—that encourages us to acknowledge the absurdity in the everyday.
Since the original was released in 2007, the iPhone has had 12 iterations. Which each new iPhone comes a new advertising campaign promising that this phone is better than the last. What Jazvac’s work highlights is how planned obsolescence guarantees more iPhones, more ad campaigns, more vinyl , and more waste.
Ambient Advertising will be up in our windows until September 10th, 2017.