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Sculpture

Diane Borsato
The Moon Is Often Referred To As A Dead, Barren World, But I Think This Is Not Necessarily The Case
Saturday, March 25, 6-9pm
B.C. Binning Gallery

With the collaboration of Judie Glick, Kuniko Yamamoto, Naomi Sawada and Anne Morrell Robinson.

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a unique one-night installation by Toronto-based artist Diane Borsato. Evolving from a research visit to Vancouver in summer 2016 as part of our Burrard Marina Field House Studio Residency Program, Borsato will work with members of the Japanese flower arranging (Ikebana) community in Vancouver to develop The Moon Is Often Referred To As a Dead, Barren World, But I Think This Is Not Necessarily The Case.

Typical of her practice, Borsato often works with amateur organisations – mycologists, astronomers, beekeepers – in projects that examine social and sensorial modes of knowing. She has been practising and researching Sogetsu Ikebana for several years.

Taking its title from a statement made by the modern sculptor and Sogetsu founder Teshigahara Sofu in Kadensho: Book of Flowers the work echoes ideas found in the publication in which he imagines making arrangements in another, very different world. For the project, Borsato invites several Ikebana masters from the modern Sogetsu school to participate in a collaborative workshop and installation. The practitioners will work with seasonal materials, and objects, supplies and the space of the gallery building itself to provide a conceptual framework for materialising a dialogue between the worlds of Ikebana – often a highly technical, rule-based traditional cultural practice and contemporary art – with its own unmistakable tropes and cultural specificities.

The project is generously supported by The Vancouver Foundation.

Diane Borsato has established an international reputation for her social and interventionist practices, performance, video, photography, and sculpture. She was twice nominated for the Sobey Art Award and was winner of the Victor Martyn-Lynch Staunton Award for her work in the Inter-Arts category from the Canada Council for the Arts. She has exhibited and performed at major Canadian institutions including the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, the Art Gallery of York University, MOCCA (Toronto), the Vancouver Art Gallery, the National Art Centre (Ottawa), and in galleries and museums in the US, France, Mexico, Taiwan and Japan.

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Diane Borsato - The Moon Is Often Referred To As A Dead, Barren World, But I Think This Is Not Necessarily The Case


Haroon Mirza
Entheogens
January 13 to March 19, 2017
B.C. Binning and Alvin Balkind Galleries

Opening: Thursday, January 12, 7-9pm

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first solo exhibition in Canada by British artist Haroon Mirza.

Mirza has received international acclaim for work that tests the interplay and friction between sound and light waves and electric current. Kinetic sculptures, performances and immersive installations purposefully cross wired. An advocate of interference (in the sense of electro-acoustic or radio disruption), he creates situations in which he describes his role as a composer, manipulating electricity, a live, invisible and volatile phenomenon calling on instruments as varied as household electronics, vinyl and turntables, LEDs, furniture, video footage and existing artworks by other artists to behave differently.

The exhibition will centre on a series of new and recent works linked to various plants such as Lophophora williamsii, (Peyote), Psilocybe (mushrooms) and Echinopsis pachanoi (San Pedro cactus) known worldwide as supplements to various transcendence practices through their psychotropic qualities, and used for spiritual purposes including meditation and psychedelic psychotherapy. As such the exhibition invites us to consider perceptual shifts, disorientating environments and displacements of light and sound that create delirious moments as we unwittingly interfere with altering signals and appearances.

First made for PIVO in Brazil in May-July 2016, ããã takes over much of our BC Binning Gallery. Developed during a two-month residency in São Paulo, captured images and sounds from the city combine as four videos and eight channels of electric signal visualised through strips of LED light and heard via an array of speakers all in synchronization. The videos reflect on a heady mix of the current political climate in Brazil, the local culture of music, entheogens (plants that have psychedelic properties like the ones used in Ayahuasca) and developments in physics and cosmology, while the overall experience of the work collectively creates a mesmerizing visual and aural effect. Alongside this installation are  series of new pieces consisting of framed copper plates printed and acid etched using various methods including passing an electrical current through plant forms such as Psilocybe cubensis, Amanita muscaria, resting atop the plates. Amanita for example, is a mushroom genus noted for its hallucinogenic properties, with its main psychoactive constituent being the compound muscimol. The mushroom was used as an intoxicant and entheogen by the peoples of Siberia, and has a religious significance in these cultures. There has been much speculation on the possible traditional use of this mushroom as an intoxicant in other places; in the works, the phantom-like images are indelibly fixed into the metal surface, akin so some kind of vision or half-remembered experience.

The copper in these pieces, normally the raw material in the manufacture of printed circuit boards (PCB), also appears along with commercial solar panels in the relief works presented in our Balkind Gallery. Powered by energy from our gallery lights, both Five Liberty Caps (Solar Powered LED Circuit Composition 25) (2015) and Liberty Cap (Solar Powered LED Circuit Composition 27) (2015) comprise Psilocybe semilanceata imprinted copper plates used to complete the circuit, with the solar panels powering the LEDs. As part of their composition, therefore, these wall works involve the mushroom, commonly known as the liberty cap, a psychedelic (or “magic”) mushroom that contains the psychoactive compounds psilocybin, baeocystin and phenylethylamine. Of the world’s psilocybin mushrooms, it is both one of the most widely distributed in nature, and one of the most potent.

Together with these are other new works combining recycled furniture, solar panels, lights and various plant forms that have also have psychotropic qualities. For example, Lophophora williamsii or peyote is a small, spineless cactus containing psychoactive alkaloids, particularly mescaline and is one of the sacred and sought after cactus known to have been used for shamanic ceremonies for over five thousands of years. LED Circuit Composition 18 (Self-Transforming Machine) (2016) references Terence McKenna, an American ethnobotanist, mystic, psychonaut and author, and advocate for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants. His experiments with hallucinogens are linked to the experience of viewing the work, named after the supernatural entities encountered during his Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) experiences.

Lamp for Williamsii (2016) is a sculptural assemblage involving a speaker from The National pavilion of Then and Now, a chair, a plastic cover for a civil aviation authority lamp from Emley Moor radio tower, cable, circuit board, Moroccan antique wooden door arch with Iraqi stained glass, and three  Big Bend Peyotes. It is designed to provide the perfect lighting conditions for the plant to grow requiring certain frequencies of light which are visible to the human eye along with blue and red light. More blue light is required than red so Mirza has created a sequence to calibrate the LED lights to the correct ratio using various electronic processes such as pulse width modulation. Such processes were also used in early electronic instruments and as the electrical signal from the LEDs is also amplified through a triangular speaker incorporated as a plinth, the electricity can be heard. The sound composition is therefore dictated by the lighting requirements of the plant.

Changing light conditions in the LEDs and the movement of visitors to the gallery will cause fluctuations in the light signals received by the solar panels across all of these pieces, a metaphor for the transformative properties that can occur through ingesting the plant forms. Processes are left exposed and sounds will occupy space in an unruly way, testing codes of conduct and charging the atmosphere whereby Mirza asks us to reconsider the perceptual distinctions between noise, sound and music, and draws into question the categorization of cultural forms. The exhibition presents a truly hypnotic and transformatory experience.

The exhibition is generously supported by Brigitte and Henning Freybe.

Haroon Mirza lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘ããã’, Pivô, São Paulo, Brazil (2016); Nam June Paik Center, Seoul, South Korea ; Matadero, Madrid, Spain; Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland (all 2015); Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich, Switzerland; Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, Poissy, France; IMMA, Dublin, Ireland; Le Grand Palais, Saint-Nazaire, France (all 2014); The Hepworth, Wakefield, UK; MIMA, Middlesbrough, UK (2013); The New Museum, New York, USA; Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland; University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, USA (all 2012); Camden Arts Centre, London and Spike Island, Bristol (2011) and A-Foundation, Liverpool, UK (2009). His work was included in the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale, China (2012) and the 54th Venice Biennale, Italy (2011), where he was awarded the Silver Lion. He was awarded the Northern Art Prize in 2011, the DAIWA Foundation Art Prize in 2012, the Zurich Art Prize in 2013, the Nam June Paik Art Center Prize in 2014 and the Calder Art Prize in 2015.

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Haroon Mirza - Entheogens


I’m used to the routine of exhibitions. I choose my path around the gallery and take my time approaching, examining, engaging each artwork. I’m always careful to maintain a specific breadth, and to never lean over pieces or on walls.

However, observing the process of unpacking the 16 works for Isabel Nolan’s exhibition, “The weakened eye of day,” was a wholly new experience of encountering art. While the critical process of reading and looking is something that I’ve become comfortable enacting, the practical matter of condition reporting was unfamiliar territory. I watched as each work was handled and turned in the light so as to spot any tears, rippling, lifting or indentations. Gloved white hands smoothed out surfaces, gently brushing away lint and other specks of dust.

It’s a task that takes extreme attention to detail and a methodical manner of analysis. Unpacking the six large crates in the gallery took two days. The bubble wrap, foam peanuts, plastic sheets and polyurethane was gathered, folded, labelled and kept in order, so that re-packing would be more efficient.

While several of Nolan’s works in the exhibition are built of sturdy steel, ceramic or wool, a few pieces are of a more delicate nature. In particular, Here (anchored in oblivion) was a work that took the most careful consideration to unpack. Placed on top of a styrofoam block and cushioned with gallons of peanuts, the work had to carefully be lifted upward out the crate. Though the sculpture has a core of metal mesh and armature wire, the exterior is made with fragile jesmonite and plaster bandage.

The asymmetric form is reminiscent of nascent organisms born following Nolan’s origin story of the universe (a poetic fiction which can be read in Rock Founded Place). The work rests on the concrete floor of the gallery, just balanced enough to maintain its upright stance. The fleshy, pale pink colour seems raw and vulnerable in the open space.

Seeing Here (anchored in oblivion) unpacked and being prepared for display was a sharp reminder of the ultimately fragile nature of objects. The gallery setting so often feeds into the mythos of the art world, an image of things that are glossy, revered, protected. Observing from behind the scenes created a fissure in the folly. Objects, indeed art, can be damaged or broken.

–Ines Min

Isabel Nolan, ‘The weakened eye of day’ is on view until October 2, 2016.

 

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“Observing from behind the scenes created a fissure in the folly” – Isabel Nolan, an unpacking by Ines Min


Guillaume Leblon
UNTANGLED FIGURES
October 14, 2016 to January 1, 2017
B.C. Binning and Alvin Balkind Galleries

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first solo exhibition by French artist Guillaume Leblon in a Canadian museum. His practice is characterized both by its diversity and the artist’s shrewd manipulation of space. While he creates powerful, discrete objects, films and paintings, the presentation in Vancouver choreographs his works into a larger spatial narrative within the gallery venue exuding a potent sense of ephemerality and the uncanny.

Creating fictional landscapes or altering an existing space has long been Leblon’s favoured technique for fuelling uncertainty and doubt in order to undermine the stark purity and perfect finish of the museum. At CAG Leblon transforms our gallery rooms with a major intervention. Plywood alterations to the floors and walls modify our perception of the space not only physically but also through the changes in acoustics, and so, by means of such a gesture of immediate and deft simplicity, we engage in a shared make-believe and the experience of a space redefined. Our awareness of the space is further shifted by a shelf that runs around the gallery wall perimeter, its changing height creating an odd disorientation disturbing our sense of sureness.

Interspersed among these new floor surfaces and along the sloping shelf is a selection of new and recent works which characteristically create a poetic universe, a world of its own, extending Leblon’s ongoing propositions with a more tangible figurative presence. We are transported into a different realm, embracing an active, mobile, open relationship with the world. Questions arise concerning established associations – historically, culturally and socially constructed – between the exceptional and the normal, the manufactured and the existent, the personal and impersonal, the ephemeral and the permanent, the old and the new, the dead and the alive. The gallery becomes a landscape, a site somewhere between what is almost known and barely known.

This atmosphere or narrative impulse is created in other ways too. Incorporating familiar objects into his sculptures, from tables and shelves to industrial materials and processes such as plywood and casting, Leblon presents enigmatic constructions and subtly affected combinations which have a powerful, seductive, material presence. While his works refuse a single reading, Leblon having a non-hierarchical approach to his materials, they often conjure images of the ruin and the passage of time, the notion of the vanitas bringing the present and the past into contact. Leblon transforms everyday components into sculptures that attain a relic-like quality or the aura of a classical statue.

For this new exhibition Leblon brings together a group of works that evoke the suggestive potential of the body through the material and image of the resolved pieces themselves. A blank face without features, detached arms without hands, a clothed torso; each of these new evocative sculptures comprises a sort of shell or envelope for an absent body, a hollow core that speaks to questions of memory, dreams, fragmentation and possibility. This body of work also marks a transition in process and materials for Leblon. Over the years, the artist has shifted from working with found materials, remnants and organic matter to foundry work in materials like aluminum, marble and sand. Always invested in temporal concerns, Leblon sees this mutation in process as a transformation of the work’s relationship to time.

While absence of the body is suggested, sometimes an imprint reveals a human form with shapeless contours, where the body is sensed by the viewer, or clothing and other fragments are employed where, ironically, there may remain traces of cigar ashes or of wear. The sculptures perform like characters within some larger narrative. Likely Political Circumstances (2016) is a man’s jacket hovering phantom-like above dismembered arms as if held upright by an invisible thread, a scene of some violent action; Brother and Brother II (both 2016) both present a vessel form, also suggestive of hollowed out partial skulls, evoking a sliced through container whereby we might contemplate its former function or the potential to hold something be it matter or an idea.

This interest in transformations manifests itself in works that hint at a kind of alchemy for the artist. In these new works, Leblon uses forms that are made from hand blown glass or newer technologies, for the first time producing objects using 3D printing, the final sculptures retaining textural and visual evidence of its original humble material. Despite Leblon’s notionally post-apocalyptic world his installations and collections of sculptures teem not only with innumerable, partially perceptible thoughts, but also with movement and life.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of Institut Français and the Consulate général de France in Vancouver.

The exhibition is generously supported by Jane Irwin and Ross Hill.

Guillaume Leblon was born in Lille, France and currently lives and works in New York. Selected solo exhibitions include carlier | gebauer, Berlin (2016); Panorama, Marseille (2015); MassMoCA, North Adams; Institut d’Art Contemporain (IAC) Villeurbanne; Galerie Projecte SD, Barcelona; Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, Paris (2014); Contemporary Art Museum of Sérignan, France (2012); Fondation Paul Ricard, Paris (2011); Le grand café, Centre d’art contemporain, Saint-Nazaire (2010); MUDAM, Luxembourg (2009); Centre d’art contemporain Culturgest, Porto;  Centro Gallego de Arte Contemporaneo, CGAC, Santiago de Compostela (2008); Kunstverein Düsseldorf; Centre d’art contemporain – Le Crédac, Ivry-sur-Seine, France (2006), amongst many others. Leblon has participated in group exhibitions, most recently at Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, Paris and Brussels; Punta della Dogana, Venice; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Biennale de Lyon; Secession, Vienna; Bétonsalon, Paris; Gallery LABOR, Mexico City; Kunsthalle Saint-Gallen; Museum MARTa, Herford; Le Plateau, FRAC Ile de France, Paris; Fridericianum, Kassel; and CAC Vilnius. In 2011 he was nominated for the Prix Marcel Duchamp, Paris.

Leblon is represented by Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, Paris; carlier | gebauer, Berlin and Galerie Projecte SD, Barcelona.

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Guillaume Leblon - UNTANGLED FIGURES


On my first day as a Curatorial Intern volunteering at the CAG consisted of, amongst other things, observing and assisting in the meticulous repacking of fifteen rulers, two balls of string, a wooden broom, one big ball of blue tape and one pint-sized tennis court. I shadowed and assisted Assistant Curator Jas Lally as she carefully packed these objects as part of the de-installation of the exhibition by John Wood and Paul Harrison, I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know It.

Over the course of three days I observed and assisted as I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know It was photographed, dusted, taken apart into its smallest components, and packed neatly away exactly as it had been received three months prior.  I learned that the process includes: noting museum wax residue, dust accumulation and any small changes made to the works in the condition reports. Finally, all the pieces were placed back in their respective packaging (with careful attention in every strip of packing tape!). Using highly honed Tetris skills, delicately lifting and sliding the works, they were placed in formation in the crate. The gallery was swept clean, and the walls painted. John Wood and Paul Harrison had officially left the building.

I learned a lot on my first de-installation and seeing the removal of the works from the gallery from start to finish was an eye-opening experience. Although the end of the exhibition was bittersweet, the satisfaction of seeing the packing up the show, scrupulously recording and photographing it, and seeing the objects off to their next home proved very satisfying. As the crates were wheeled out the door, the anticipation of receiving the work of upcoming artist, Jochen Lempert, settled in. Witnessing the life cycle process of an exhibition was nothing short of a cathartic experience! Don’t worry if you missed out on the exhibition as their window work Some Words Some More Words is still on display until August 28.

– Brennagh Bailey

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De-installing ‘I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know It’ – Brennagh Bailey


Isabel Nolan
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.

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Isabel Nolan - The weakened eye of day


Camille Norment and Experimental Music UnitSongs for Glass Island, was presented on Saturday, April 9, 2016, at Pyatt Hall, VSO School of Music. It was an engaging, performative sound work with Norwegian/US artist/musician Norment collaborating with Victoria’s Experimental Music Unit: Tina Pearson, George Tzanetakis, and Paul Walde.

It is intriguing that their collaborative sonic exploration departed from Robert Smithson’s unrealized earthwork project for Southwest BC, Glass Island (or Island of Broken Glass), proposed shortly before he created the famous (or is it infamous?) Spiral Jetty. Smithson’s project to cover an islet in the Strait of Georgia with crushed glass was drowned by the noisy objections of environmentalists, yet it’s echoes live on through a completely different type of (sonic) exploration. So, how does one project live through the failure of another?

A highlight of Norment and EMU’s event was our introduction to the glass armonica, a rare and legendary instrument dating back to the eighteenth century that uses glass, water and fingertips to create otherworldly sounds. These tuned glass “singing bowls” reputedly have healing properties, leading to reactions from the listener that vary from mesmerized to fearful, and even to a one-time ban on its use … strange but true! Mozart has even penned works for this enchanting instrument, and it’s other worldly sounds have accompanied music by contemporary musicians such as Linda Ronstadt, David Gilmour and Björk.

In an interview published in e-flux about her recent exhibition at the 2015 Venice Biennale, Norment touched on her fascination with the powers of sound: “I am interested in how music has long been used to facilitate both the forging and transgressing of cultural norms. Sound permeates all borders. Throughout history, fear has been associated with the paradoxical effects music has on the body and mind, and its power as a reward-giving de-centraliser of control.

Norment’s work has been described as visceral and poetic. From my personal perspective, much of my graduate research at SFU explores the human’s phenomenological relationship with the world, how our sensual experience with the surrounding environment plays a key role in defining who, and what, we are. Moreover, from an aural perspective, it is important to recognize that our location in the sonic environment is critical to our understanding and perception of it. I enjoyed exploring both of these concepts, and more, at Norment’s and EMU’s concert, immersing myself into the spellbinding soundscape.

– Jorma Kujala

Songs for Glass Island was presented by the CAG in partnership with LaSaM Music, Victoria and is supported by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway through its program for International Support, The Canada Council for the Arts, The University of Victoria through its Distinguished Women Scholars Fund, the Orion Fund in Fine Arts and the Department of Visual Arts.

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Tuning Into Other Worlds


Saturday, April 9, 2016, 7pm
Off-site: Pyatt Hall at VSO School of Music, Vancouver

Ticket available at: www.picatic.com/CAGglass

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a new performative sound work with Norwegian/US artist/musician Camille Norment in collaboration with Victoria’s Experimental Music Unit: Tina Pearson, George Tzanetakis, and Paul Walde.

Norment performs with a glass armonica, a legendary eighteenth century instrument that creates ethereal music from glass and water. Combined with EMU’s reputation for sonic investigations of relationships between the natural world, sound and music, and between notation, improvisation and attention states in music making, Norment and EMU will develop a work that resonates with local history.

Songs for Glass Island will use US visual artist Robert Smithson’s failed 1969 proposal for the Strait of Georgia, Glass Island (or Island of Broken Glass) as point of departure. Granted permission by the Canadian Government, Smithson planned encrusting Miami Islet west of Fraser Point in 100 tons of broken glass. However, as public pressure against the idea mounted from environmentalists and anti-Americanists, it was suspended by a governmental telegram. Aside from drawings, letters, and plans, the only physical artifacts which remain are studies which Smithson called “maps.” What would have been Smithson’s first “permanent” earthwork morphed via the idea’s failure into the famous Spiral Jetty made the following year.

Throughout March and April, Norment will be in residence at the University of Victoria where she will be writing and rehearsing with EMU members. Using glass in various forms as their primary instruments, they will prepare a set of inter-related works including newly developed instrumentation, that imagine the possible sounds, stories, textures and ecologies of Smithson’s fabled island. Reflecting the themes in structure and content, sound will weave viscerally through this glass world, the project residing in realistic and fantasy scenarios provoked by Smithson’s proposal: glass as a material; glass in acoustic and marine ecology; inevitable mounds of post-catastrophe glass shards; and metaphors associated with glass, such as glass ceilings, broken barriers, reflection, transparency and invisibility.

Through the creative process, the juxtaposition of the practices of sound and experimental music performance in glass will create a visually stunning and sonically captivating audiovisual concert-length program that will debut in progress at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and be followed by its premiere performance in Vancouver presented by CAG at Pyatt Hall. Recordings of these works and performances will be subject to a subsequent audio publication.
CAG will also partner later this year with Norment and the Montreal Biennale.

Camille Norment is a multidisciplinary American artist living in Oslo, Norway. Her work has been the subject of numerous international exhibitions and performances including the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013) and a commissioned artwork and performance for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo (2012). In 2015 she presented Rapture, a site-specific, sculptural and sonic installation in the Nordic Pavilion for the Venice Biennale. She regularly performs and records with the Camille Norment Trio in which she plays the glass armonica.

EMU is a sound ensemble of LaSaM Music from Victoria, British Columbia featuring performer/composers Tina Pearson, George Tzanetakis, Paul Walde and producer Kirk McNally. During the past four years EMU has developed a reputation for sonic investigations of relationships between the natural world, sound and music, and between notation, improvisation and attention states in music making.

Songs for Glass Island is presented in partnership with LaSaM Music, Victoria and is supported by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway through its program for International Support, The Canada Council for the Arts, The University of Victoria through its Distinguished Women Scholars Fund, the Orion Fund in Fine Arts and the Department of Visual Arts.

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Camille Norment and Experimental Music Unit - Songs for Glass Island


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