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Exploring Vancouver with Sameer Farooq

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Exploring Vancouver with Sameer Farooq

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As mentioned previously, I hosted artist Sameer Farooq in Vancouver for research towards an upcoming residency and public project in 2015. Beyond making entrancing documentaries, Farooq also has a shared artistic practice with long time collaborator, Dutch artist Mirjam Linschooten. the CAG has invited the duo to develop a Vancouver-specific project. With Linschooten already in residence in Morocco for a project their working on thier, Sameer was the only one able to come out for this initial research visit.

Farooq and Linschooten began their artistic collaboration while studying at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. They consider their joint practice as an archeology of the present. The Museum of Found Objects, with iterations in Cairo, Johnston, Rhode Island, Toronto and Istanbul, used everyday objects to fuel alternative ways of engagement across a broad range of physical and cultural contexts. Something stolen, something new, something borrowed and something blue (2014) responded directly to the looting of the Egyptian Museum at Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring. They built a temporary photo studio in Cairo and worked with a local calligrapher to make announcement posters asking the simple question: ‘What objects from your home would you like to see displayed in the Egyptian Museum?’ For a month, they photographed and interviewed people with the objects that were brought in.

Farooq was very excited to explore all the Vancouver has to offer. With a special interest in ethnographic display and cultural histories in the city.  He visited the Museum of Anthropology and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, taking guided visits offered by each institution.  We were also given a behind the scenes tour of the Museum of Vancouver by Kristin Lantz, Curator of Audience Engagement. The permanent collection is a hidden gem of Vancouver’s material culture. As a last stop before he left town, I took Sameer to the Richmond Night Market, an important stop in the exploration of Vancouver’s cultural fabric. Out of these visits Farooq and Linschooten will begin to build frameworks for a new project in 2015.

-Shaun Dacey

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Related Exhibitions

White, Steel, Slice, Mask
Window spaces
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).

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Sameer Farooq and Mirjam Linschooten - Bear Claws Salad Hands


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Keg de Souza
Appetite for Construction
September 10 to November 4, 2016
Off-site: 544 Main Street, Vancouver

Upcoming events:
Drop in hours: 1-5pm
Last weekend – Saturday, October 29 and Sunday, October 30

Closing reception: Friday, November 4, 6-9pm.

We welcome back to Vancouver Australian artist Keg de Souza, on her final visit to the city, de Souza presents a public project exploring food culture as a metaphor for urban displacement. Throughout October, de Souza will operate from a temporary space in the former Park Lock Dim Sum/Seafood Restaurant on the second floor of 544 Main Street in Chinatown. From this location she will initiate a food mapping installation developed via a series of public events, workshops and discussions centered on this disused space, the last original building standing on the corner of Main and Keefer.

Participants are invited to contribute items that represent the changing urban fabric of the Chinatown/DTES area through its food culture. Each participant’s items will be vacuum bagged and used to create a tile in the construction of a temporary structure within the Chinatown space. The numerous vacuum bags will create a patchwork surface that represents various community members, and their insights into local food culture and gentrification. Items could range from: menus from new upmarket establishments; packaging from iconic restaurants of the area, soup kitchen fliers, info on urban farming or even something grown from an urban farm.  In Vancouver, De Souza is developing a series of community based workshops throughout 2015-16 engaging participants in a critical dialogue regarding local food production. De Souza is working closely with various local urban farmers, food security activists and community members to explore the food politics within the city as both evidence of and a metaphor for urban displacement through gentrification.

Over the past eighteen months de Souza has been conducting research in Vancouver hosting a series of events experimenting with tactics of public engagement. In 2015, her handmade inflatable dome became a temporary space at the Burrard Marina Field House for a public picnic engaging Canadian colonial narratives via a consideration of national food traditions. Meeting with local chefs, food activists and residents de Souza prepared a truly Canadian feast as a source for an afternoon of unfolding dialogue that the artist mapped directly onto the floor of the dome. A starting point for the discussion was the ephemerality of the event itself. De Souza hosted a second event, an urban foraging expedition culminating in jam making, experimental mapping and a discussion exploring local foods, cultural preservation and the continuing effects of colonization in contemporary Vancouver. The event featured two local guest collaborators, Lori Snyder, an Indigenous Herbalist specializing in urban foraging for wild, edible and medicinal plants; and Lori’s partner, Steve Snyder, a master jam maker for the last 15 years. This two-day event began with a foraging tour led by Lori Snyder focusing on the native blackberry, the introduced blackberry and other native plants. Participants foraged on the banks surrounding the Field House which are covered with wild Himalayan Blackberries — an invasive, ‘colonizing,’ non-native species in Vancouver. On the second day, Steve Synder led a jam making session with the foraged berries. While communally making jam, de Souza led a discussion focused on the act of preserving these locally dominant berries, questioning whose culture is in fact preserved and how this can be linked to colonial narratives. This discussion culminated in an experimental mapping of the dialogue.

Australian artist de Souza investigates the politics of space informed through a formal training in architecture combined with her experiences such as squatting in Redfern, Sydney. De Souza’s work emphasises participation and reciprocity, and often involves the process of learning new skills and fostering relationships to create site and situation-specific projects. For over ten years she has self-published her hand-bound books and ‘zines under the name All Thumbs Press.

Recent exhibitions include; Redfern School of Displacement for the 20th Biennale of Sydney; Abundance: Fruit of the Sea, Bounty of the Mountains for the 2016 Setouchi Triennale (2016). Temporary Spaces, Edible Places: Vancouver and Preservation, Contemporary Art Gallery; Temporary Spaces, Edible Places: New York, AC Institute, New York (2015). Temporarily in Architecture, Food and Communities, Delfina Foundation, London; Temporary Spaces, Edible Places, Atlas Arts, Isle of Skye, Scotland; If There’s Something Strange In Your Neighbourhood … Ratmakan Kampung, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2014). The 5th Auckland Triennial, 15th Jakarta Biennale and Vertical Villages at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney (2013).

This project is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. With special thanks to Left of Main.

The Field House Studio is an off-site artist residency space and community hub organized by the Contemporary Art Gallery. This program moves beyond conventional exhibition making, echoing the founding origins of the gallery where artists were offered support toward the production of new work, while reaching out to communities and offering new ways for individuals to encounter and connect with art and artists. Running parallel to the residency program were an ongoing series of public events for all ages. 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.

Follow the Field House blog at www.burrardmarinafieldhouse.wordpress.com

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Off-site: Keg de Souza - Appetite for Construction


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Related Event

The Big Draw – Keg de Souza
Saturday, October 1, 12-3pm
*Off-site: 544 Main Street – entrance on Keefer Street

Australian artist Keg de Souza will be working from a temporary studio in Chinatown as part of the final phase of her eighteen month residency in Vancouver. Developing on from a series of public participatory events examining food culture as a metaphor for urban displacement, for ‘The Big Draw’ the artist will conduct an exploratory food mapping project of the Strathcona neighbourhood by inviting people to become urban cartographers and contribute to a large-scale collaborative map considering local shops, restaurants, urban farms and our interconnected relationships/experiences to them.

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.com

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CAG & The Big Draw - Keg de Souza


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Related Event

Artist talk and project launch with Keg de Souza
Wednesday September 28, 7pm
544 Main Street, Vancouver

We welcome back to Vancouver Australian artist Keg de Souza, on her final visit to the city, de Souza presents an artist talk and a public project exploring food culture as a metaphor for urban displacement. De Souza will discuss her recent projects including the Redfern School of Displacement, presented as part of the 20th Biennale of Sydney. This project reflected on the ongoing activism, debate, speculation and political rhetoric concerning displacement and gentrification in Sydney.

Throughout October, de Souza will operate from a temporary space in the former Park Lock Dim Sum/Seafood Restaurant on the second floor of 544 Main Street in Chinatown. From this location she will initiate a food mapping installation developed via a series of public events, workshops and discussions centered on this disused space, the last original building standing on the corner of Main and Keefer.

Participants are invited to contribute items that represent the changing urban fabric of the Chinatown/DTES area through its food culture. Each participant’s items will be vacuum bagged and used to create a tile in the construction of a temporary structure within the Chinatown space. The numerous vacuum bags will create a patchwork surface that represents various community members, and their insights into local food culture and gentrification. Items could range from: menus from new upmarket establishments; packaging from iconic restaurants of the area, soup kitchen fliers, info on urban farming or even something grown from an urban farm.

De Souza’s practice investigates the politics of space, emphasizing participation and reciprocity to create site and situation-specific projects. De Souza aims to cultivate local knowledge regarding the displacement of low income, indigenous and immigrant communities in collaboration with residents and the community, creating a platform for conversation and debate.

The project in Vancouver is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, and Left of Main.

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Off-site: Artist Talk - Keg de Souza


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Related Event

Panel Discussion: Sustenance Festival
With Randy Lee Cutler, Holly Schmidt, Gaye Chan, Derya Akay and Keg de Souza
Saturday, October 17, 3pm

In conjunction with the Sustenance Festival: a city-wide festival with local food-focused workshops, exhibitions and talks, CAG has organized a panel examining artistic practices that consider food security, sovereignty and knowledge sharing. www.sustenancefestival.ca

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Panel Discussion: Sustenance Festival


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Related Learning

A CAG video featuring Keg de Souza, Burrard Marina Field House artist-in-residence, she discusses her projects made during her residency earlier this year. Watch out for Keg’s return for a follow up project in July.

Keg de Souza
July 20 to August 3, 2015
Australian artist de Souza continues work towards a series of public events in 2016 exploring food culture as a metaphor for urban displacement. In April, de Souza’s handmade inflatable dome became a temporary space at the Burrard Marina Field House for a public picnic engaging Canadian colonial narratives via a consideration of national food traditions. Meeting with local chefs, food activists and residents de Souza prepared a truly Canadian feast as a source for an afternoon of unfolding dialogue that the artist mapped directly onto the inflatable’s flooring. A starting point for the discussion was the ephemerality of the event itself — the only remnant left behind an intertwining of disconnected dialogues, mapped together with dirty dishes, crumbs and more questions posed. After the meal was eaten the structure deflated, the temporary community dispersed. De Souza will be hosting a second event in July, continuing to use food as an avenue to discuss local spatial politics.

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Video | Keg de Souza


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Related Learning

‘Burrard Marina Field House Blog’

To read all the posts on the about the artists-in-residence and all events at the ‘CAG Burrard Marina Field House blog’ follow this link: http://www.contemporaryartgallery.ca/blog-category/field-house-studio-blog/

To read about all the events that have happened at the CAG Burrard Marina Field House follow this link:

http://www.contemporaryartgallery.ca/blog-category/field-house-studio/

 

The Field House Studio is an off-site artist residency space and community hub organized by the Contemporary Art Gallery.

This program moves beyond conventional exhibition making, echoing the founding origins of the gallery where artists were offered support toward the production of new work, while reaching out to communities and offering new ways for individuals to encounter and connect with art and artists.

Running parallel to the residency program are an ongoing series of public events for all ages.

The Field House Studio Residency Program is generously supported by the Vancouver Park Board and the City of Vancouver. We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of many private and individual donors toward this program. Please visit our website for a full list of supporters.

MORE

The Burrard Marina Field House Blog and Events


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