Image: Dan Graham, Two Half Cylinders, 2008. Rennie Collection. Photo taken from Considered Design
I slice an orange six times and eat it while standing over the sink. It is at once being careful and careless. Someone recently was associating the concept of not being cared about in Vancouver if the person/place/thing in question isn’t perfectly done. Flaws can be cared about, but they must be perfect flaws.
On a late yet early one morning, I walk along Pender Street to sign in to receive a red sticker identifying me as a visitor and not intruder. They are the only red stickers in the gallery. Everything is privately owned by Bob Rennie who also owns the renovated Heritage building amongst owning lots of other things. His acquisition appetite is insatiable. I can only imagine what lies in his fridge and pantry.
Damien Moppett is the first Canadian artist to show in this space. Martin Creed was the last artist to show and play. Mona Hatoum was the first artist to show in this space. Show and tell. The tours are led by student interns whose UBC peers are being promised new studio facilities by Michael Audain. I hope they keep the shanty cubicles anyways. Perfect spaces are for perfect art. Broken falls are perfect falls. But space is on everybody’s lips and no one asks for a careless space — though plenty develop anyways. What if we made careless spaces on purpose. This is my concept of the commons. And this space here at Wing Sang is something else. The spaces are really magnificent. But the storefront window display is a cruel joke to the pedestrian walking by. Being on the inside is given all of the advantages over being on the outside.
The tour guide was sharp. I ask her how her lines are scripted. She doesn’t understand the question. I ask again, trying to sound non interrogating. She says they vary based on each intern’s independent research framed by the catalogs provided and for sale. I grow even more suspicious, but that is entirely my issue and no body else’s as the group is really enjoying the tour. It is a great tour. I’ve already recommended it to people. We are all first-timers. The Rennie Collection is likely one of the best galleries anywhere — and it’s free. But not entirely accessible, and it’s good, though not untyrannical. I have been fed the show through the lens of appropriation as context. I would give the tour guide an A minus. But I have questions that could never be answered in careful ways. I want to know if Moppett is going to get more serious about his pottery. Is he really funny or just an art brat. Either way may be all right, but isn’t modernist sculpture still taking up a lot of space and being consumed by its formal preoccupancy. Referential art can’t help but be reinforcing than reconsidering, though when does Moppett toe the line and when does he cross it.
I also sort of hate the appropriation of Sasquatch as Modernist Artist Man. It takes the fun out of speculation as M.A.N. is all too real. Because speculation is fun, but not when it’s become a sure thing. From the bottom to the top. The view from the top is the master narrative that all those old guards were going on about last night. Here on this private roof top, everything is too careful. That’s why I love Dan Graham a little more every time he comes into my life. He has also been fascinated by the glorious excess of West Edmonton Mall. Similarly, this reflection of the city is the best thing I’ve seen in Vancouver. Of Vancouver. An excess in panorama. The view from the double mirror is the double speak. This is the good work — a work that changes with the city. It doesn’t matter if the change is owned, that’s the hardest part about all this. Change is being pre-calculated. Change has become too careful. Everything really is going to be alright.
To view The Rennie Collection an appointment must be made in advance online.