I walk up the musty stairs and you and Sarah Todd are already there. 12:30 on the dot. A squared. Let’s go see some internet art!
We should probably tweet today. Is the internet utopic? #ateamarttour. You want the audio from Oliver Laric’s Versions (2009-2012) to leak into the entire show. I have a feeling this has something to do with the tenancy. This new wall should help. You later say all spaces in Vancouver are roughly the same size. I still don’t agree, but I understand what you mean. Space determines everything.
You talk at length about Aleksandra Domanovic. I don’t know her work, but I like the labour. There is a compulsiveness to internet art that is hard to receive in the gallery. Wallpapers (2012) works well. GIFs dominate this show. As do couples.
I just threw away my last 3 1/4 inch floppy. It had been reduced into a nostalgic object. These computers and desks are also nostalgic objects. Everything but internet art is interactive and participatory these days. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH the internet art. Everything is for Alfred. That’s pretty nice.
I do want the audio from Laric’s Versions to be played on speakers in the gallery, rather then through headphones. I want the ideas expressed in this work to bounce off of all the art works, regardless of the sound quality. But you know, IRL is not an internet art exhibition. In Real Life is a negotiation of a negotiation between the virtual space and material space–works that occupy multiple spaces. What are we talking about when we talk about the internet? Is it a medium, a genre, a location, a commodity, a dimension, a tool? None of the works in the gallery are presented via the internet, though its aura is present. I know the GIFs can be downloaded online for one’s own use.
Post internet art, as Sarah says.
I also saw Wallpapers at the New Forms Festival at the Centre for Digital Media. They were incredible in that space. Sara Ludy and Nicholas Sassoon really worked the architectural definition and scope of the building. Seen in this third space, its clear that Wallpapers not only reference GIF aesthetics, but also abstract minimalism, psychedelia, op art and electronic music. This draws a parallel to Domanovic’s Untitled (19:30), as I believe the abstracted squiggles on her tower are cut from images of a dance party she threw with 19:30 DJ’s. The Former Yugoslavia dissolved in 1992, so the rave circuit that Domanovic talks about emerging in the wake of that rupture, galvanizing youth culture, would have been active alongside the 1997 Documenta–the first to feature internet art. We caught a synchronistic moment where squiggles ran down the wallpaper behind the Untitled (19:30) stack.
I have danced all night in former Yugoslavia. I’m going to need a coffee before we go any further.
I didn’t know Gene was for sale. Oh well, so it goes. Another place burns down near Main and Kingsway. Why do no book stores in Vancouver carry Sarah Schulman? But they did have a decent collection of Chris Kraus’ work. The first I’ve seen of her new book Summer of Hate. Chris, the other one, notes how they have been flying off the shelves. Kraus and Schulman will be in town at the same time. Why are we importing so many American women writers to teach us how to write and think?
grunt is eclipsed by home renovation materials: 2 x 4 slats, drywall, fake turf, plywood, aluminium studs. A large home depot arc that sounds like it is grinding through heavy water. Did I tell you that last time I picked up gallery paint at Home Depot I saw an elderly nun in a full habit wearing one of those orange smocks? Like Judee Sill says–Jesus was a Cross Maker.
Before we turn down the alley, I see first Avenue ahead of us, the small industrial access road that will be extended into the complex where the Monte Clark and Windsor Galleries will join Equinox. The road will connect Catriona Jeffries Gallery with the new Granville Row–now the Great Northern Row. I remind you later on that CJG is not an artist run centre, yet it occupies the territory that is part of the artist run “stroll”– a term I’ll borrow for a moment, befitting of the industry primary geographies that ARC’s have occupied. It’s all for sale though. So it goes. There are months where artists will show in multiple private and public spaces at the same time. The conversations converge. Who is this better business for? What the hell do Monte Clark and Windsor need large warehouse spaces for?
Why, for the experience, of course! Steven told me an alternate vision that had been destined for the Great Northern Way, but I don’t like dwelling in ruins.
It’s odd, but not out of place. In fact, it’s probably more odd that we still cling to our definitions of artist run centres. We’re the ones out of touch. Well, the royal “we”. Everything will be in scare quotes today.
It’s not clinging as such. It’s more like grasping. If artist run centres have become “out of touch”, it’s because the 21st Century is out of touch, and we’re not exempt from our time. An Age That Has Lost Its Gestures. I think ARCs have the potential to be sites of supportive and enduring gestures, but we have to rediscover our naturalness. We are experiencing a drift phenomenon. Perhaps Jonathan Villeneuve’s home depot arc is an allegory for this.
That’s very symbolic of you.
The exhibition Bigger then a Book, Wilder then a Tree drew my attention to the curator’s hand, and I continue to compelled by it all day. It’s certainly not new, but for the first time I felt the impact of not identifying artists and artworks within the exhibition. As we walked through CJG I kept asking you which work was Jerry Pethick’s and which was Christina Mackie’s. I was not familiar with either of their practices, and so their signatures did not stand out to me at first.
You think that Pethick’s work is rough assemblage, while Mackie’s constructions are more refined. Jeffries’ plays with material resonance. Not identifying the work titles or artist underscores their compliments.
I looked at the polished stones in the abstract sand mandala in Interzonal (2002-2012) for a long time. Are those precious stones/crystals, exquisite beach stones, or a combination of both? You clarified that they are collected beach stones that Mackie’s mother polished. You said you first saw her work in the UK and thought it fit better there. Pethick had resided on Hornby Island for most of his life, and Mackie had come west and then north to make new works for the exhibition.
What stands out to me is not their construction of materials, but the verisimilitude of the materials themselves. Pethick’s materials (even if they are not) certainly strike me as being collected directly from the landscape and barely altered. The form of the Styrofoam in Gobi Clone (1996-1997) has the form of a ravaged dock, or boat related floatation device that you see strewn around west coast beaches. It appears he has done very little to augment it. In fact he highlights its weather beaten form by utilizing the cadavered fissures to anchor the wooden spears and rest the honeycomb. I was particularly amazed by the oblong aluminium form in Trough (2001). The exhibition notes identify it as an aircraft’s fuel tank, but I was absolutely convinced it was a perfectly rendered cast of an aluminium fishing lure. Mackie’s materials feel more narrativized. They’ve been storied by the artist. Her mother polishing the stones or the animals printed on the ceramics. The expressiveness of the sand composition in response to the landscape photo. Her subjectivity is more present.
I never noticed that all the photographs are taken from inside a bus or car or train. Three light bulbs. Second time around, the faces start to appear.
Does Mackie need Pethick’s aura? Does Pethick need Mackie’s?
Either way, “coastal regional” starts here.
You’ve been reading Vancouver Art & Economies. The royal “we” keep expressing disappointment that there’s no art critique in Vancouver.
I hesitate on this, and keep asking what “we” mean when we say there’s no art critique? You articulate a distinction between legitimizing art through theoretical (and often historical) frameworks, and conversing about art in its material context. I respect Andrew Witt’s writing for this. His tenor is heavy handed at moments, but he is really trying to extract art from the sterilized white cube and confront it with the world it is being made within.
Too bad he just left town.
I think conversation is important, but the conversation is not just between the critic and the work. It’s between works, exhibitions positioned together in a moment, the continuity in a curator, critic and artist’s practice and gallery’s culture. This network is an active Remembrance of Things Past. Are we exercising this muscle?
We stop in front of Bob Rennie’s gallery. A 10ft metal ladder stands on the other side of the window. Tossed underneath it is a roll of blue disposable shop rags. A white plastic spray bottle stands in the shadows at a distance. Is this a Geoffrey Farmer? No, but I think Rennie is expressing his exuberance for the new London Drugs that opened in the Olympic Village. This show should be called “The Missing Link.”
This might be the best show of the day.
No, In Search of Lost Time might be the best show of the day.
Myfanwy MacLeod did a really good job in creating alterior entry points. The works individually do not speak to me, but it is their placement alongside one another that is opening up the conversation.
Macleod has curated this show as an artist and her curating is essentially one of the works. This is unique amongst the shows visited today. The exhibition composition bares a natural inclination and license to assemblage, collage, poetics and sculpture. If there is mutual investment and trust between MacLeod, Valerie Sonnier and Shannon Oksanen, it is evident. The works are close together, intercepting each other’s personal space and sight lines. Oksanen’s driftwood mushroom form is poised in the centre of the projection of Sonnier’s Footsteps in the Snow (2011). You have to eek around the other driftwood forms to get at Vanishing Point (2001), aptly framed as a petit genre landscape video. Oksanen’s Spicoli series is parsed throughout the small gallery, with Green Spicoli and Blue Spicoli (2012) hung beside a driftwood assemblage in the ‘office’ beside shelving.
That corner is perfect.
That reminds me, you pointed out the old white slat boards peeking out of the bottom of the smooth gallery wall. You mentioned you wished the whole gallery was like that. I warmed up to the tension between the two and the layered history in the space. It particularly resonated with this show. I also loved the doors to UNIT/Pitt being propped open. Chinatown is so loud and it’s nice to feel part of the ambience of tea shops, tourists, shopping carts and chinese trading companies, rather then a hermetically sealed gallery.
I am opposed to Chinatown being reduced to an ambiance. I have also never been to UNIT/Pitt before, at least not in the daytime.
Do you think this is from a boat? I can still smell the dampness of the wood. They don’t use plywood to make boats. I am learning so much. Oh, I get it: driftwood to the coast is hay bales to the prairies. Embodied relics. The plinth is entirely necessary. The space between the object and the plinth is what matters here. There’s a lot of “coastal regional” here.
The space between the object and time is what matters here. Each of these artists is positioned one of the translations of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Sonnier’s work leans more on the 1922 translation Remembrance of Things Past, and Oksanen’s plays closer to the 1992 translation In Search of Lost Time. Macleod draws these references out of the work in very graceful ways. Of note is the way she drifts between political, philosophical and leisure interpretations of lost time or wasted time in surf culture, beach combing, and oil painting. I won’t give it all away. There is no public text or address in this show, however UNIT/Pitt is selling a box set of a generous curatorial text by Macleod and two artist editions by Valerie Sonnier and Shannon Oksanen. I read Macleod’s text this morning. It was a great waste of time.
I think you are reading too much and not remembering enough.
I think you are relying on first impressions too much.
Speaking of, should we include what had happened earlier on Main St.? I feel like I am expected to now love or hate To | From BC Electric Railway: 100 Years. It doesn’t inspire such feelings. Centre A looks good though. A bit of structure goes a long way.
I liked how the subjects in Stan Douglas’ Malabar People (2012) confront the gallery, the architecture and the present. Though I found it strange that they were hung facing the office when there was an unused wall to the west of the entrance facing into the gallery and the other work. I would have preferred to see Vanessa Kwan’s Vancouver Family (2000) postcards laid out in a longer vitrine in their original form. The blown up text from the cards is removed from the exchange process and material. Out of context the hand scroll loses the means of its address.
The postcards to Kwan would make for a decent public art piece, if train stations ever got renovated in the future and could afford public art.
The show is set in the past, which of course, becomes nostalgic, and therefore, mythic. I keep thinking about Douglas’ portraits, even if they didn’t do much for me within the space. They are the only faces I saw. The eyes that look back at you. Portraiture is so human, as redundant as it is to say so, their humanness feels like an oddity to Douglas’ body of work, which has mostly portrayed bodies as extras rather than as portraits. The only people I remember from this show about the history of this site are fictional. Now that’s a punch in the face!
But I do love the candy store by Cindy Mochizuki. Time is frozen (at 2:05). The audio is her signature. PLEASE DO NOT LEAN ON THIS WALL. This show is really text driven. I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I want to try everything. Mochizuki learned how to make everything with Japanese seniors. That does make everything more interesting. You say that it looks like a museum piece and you’re not wrong.
She’s installed a beautiful antique clock, framed historical photographs and a finely crafted bureau for displaying traditional candy store jars, but Mochizuki’s authorship is absent in confections (2012). To me, it’s too nostalgic and restrained. I would like to see what Mochizuki really thinks and feels about the history of confection stores in Japantown, spending time with Japanese elders and hand made confectionary. The audio recording is not enough of an interpretation to me.
In general I feel uncomfortable about how the show reads like multicultural boisterism. This is due in large part to the curatorial comments by Makiko Hara and Annabel Vaughn: “The more we learn about this building, the more we discover about Vancouver’s rich and diverse cultural history”. I know Vaughan completed her Masters thesis on the BC Electric building, and I don’t mean to disregard the complexity of her knowledge and critique on the building’s history, but I would put forth a question to her and Hara as to whether the immigration and naturalization histories that the art works speak to, are about the BC Electric building and the Downtown Eastside, or a broader address to western expansionist narratives that aren’t openly addressed in a show about “arrival, speed, mobility, being in transit, waiting and the cosmopolitan aspirations of a young city”?
I think there are meaningful parallels between the show and the city’s history, like Ali Kazimi’s film about Canada’s exclusionary Continuous Journey Regulation of 1908, which determined the fate of the Komagata Maru in 1914 and how it shares a legacy of racist immigration policy and trauma with Evan Lee’s exposition into the 2009 Sri Lankan Ocean Lady seizure. However, this tension feels subdued.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on the “cosmopolitan aspirations of a young city”. So it goes on.
Elizabeth Zvonar’s Timeslip (2012) at the Or Gallery has been a highlight today. The oblong shape is a reoccurring form. I like all the works individually and there are many allegiances between them. However, the title, Science Fiction 18 is stifling. It’s simultaneously too determining and too vague a frame for interpretation. The absence of context and background on the show lacks generosity. This is the 18th of roughly 88 science fiction shows the Or is putting on over a 260-year span. I don’t find that funny either.
I wasn’t aware that the Or Gallery was presenting a series of science fiction exhibitions until it was mentioned to me last week. I’m told that Director/ Curator Jonathan Middleton puts a significant amount of research into developing the shows and that each work shares meaningful referents with science fiction literature, theory and media. If this is true I would really like to glean such when I visit the gallery. Writing and documentation about this series should be published and public. Let us in!
I would love to see Allison Hrabuluik’s works projected floor to ceiling and closer together. Their horizons should eclipse the space. There is likeness between the horizon’s in Hrabuluik’s Abet (2012) and Emma Kay’s The Future From Memory (2001). You don’t see it as such, but the edge of the white positive space against the black in Abet reads like the curvature of the sun into space. Those first images of the earth from the moon also come to mind. Of course the text in The Future From Memory recedes into this space, or over the crest of an orbit. Next to these two works, the oblong abstraction of the woman’s body stepping out of the wilderness in Zvonar’s Timeslip, reads like a dimensional seam, or horizon being broached. The folds of time being pulled back.
Are you aware that all the artists in this exhibition are all women? Duh, but is the curator aware? It’s disappointing that this is not addressed–not that the works are all made by women–but what this curatorial impulse bares about science fiction, feminist futurism, and possibly erotica? What would Sarah Schulman or Chris Kraus say about all of this?
Write it down. We will have to ask.