Tag Archives: vancouver

Amongst our Contemporary Ruins: future relics of our time at Equinox Gallery

14 September 2022

By Lauren Lavery

Yesterday afternoon my usual commute home was interrupted by a surprise flat on my bike’s rear tire. Along the route from the downtown office to my apartment, there are three sites of open excavation—one a literal pit, which is to be the future location of a new subway station near the local art university. At this particular spot, the usual protocol of a primary coloured, temporary rental fence has been swapped for a more permanent plywood installation, complete with pre-painted information and cut-outs to see what’s happening in the ever deepening, vast cavity bored into the earth below. As I peer through the holes in the plywood to inquire after the progress, the most alluring objects to catch my eye are the brightly coloured debris littering the edges of the worksite. Everything from cherry red Tim Horton’s coffee cups, to the iridescent wrappers of granola bars, to bright white styrofoam takeout containers riddle the area, and are tangled amongst discarded chunks of dried cement and other discarded construction materials. My thoughts immediately jump to how the majority of our contemporary infrastructure is built on a bed of non-biodegradable garbage, eternally preserved for the future generations to discover—what a legacy to leave beneath the impressive glass monoliths erected across this city with extraordinary speed.

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La Cintura Cósmica del Sur (The Cosmic Waist of the South) at Fazakas Gallery

24 June 2022

By Angie Rico

In the Southeast borough of Xochimilco, Mexico, is an oasis of yore, solidified in popular tradition for city dwellers and tourists alike to visit the remaining lacustrine zones trapped among the sweltering chaos of Mexico City. The silent and robust trajineras are the transportation of choice for these terrains that offer one of the only remaining glimpses into Mexico City’s pre-Columbian era. Lined up in rows, these flat-bottomed boats float on the tranquil surface of the water, displaying adornments of papier-mâché and a name written in large letters on their front arches. They wait to be boarded by families, groups of friends, lovers, or mismatched strangers; music emanates from passing vessels as they ferry sightseers across the canals that are hundreds of years old. At one time, trajineras were the primary navigation tools that facilitated agricultural production, transportation, and political development for Indigenous civilizations in the basin of Mexico, with its extensive network of waterways. Colonization, along with modernization projects of the early 20th century, shrunk the waterways down to a system of canals and trajineras were re-adapted to entertain tourists and align with the modern rhetoric of the city.1 The appearance of trajineras in the popular imaginary is a result of this process. 

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The Invisible Institution: How pandemic troubles have re-shaped our understandings of institutional education, and reminded us of our communal and bodily existences

16 April 2022

By Ella Adkins

Between January and March of 2021, my Monday to Friday ritual went a little bit like this: 

I’m sitting on Zoom, and a grid of familiar strangers looks back at me. I see myself in the top left corner next to my professor. My hair is slightly unkempt after my daily pilates workout, and I hadn’t cared to look in the mirror—a regular occurrence these days. After some awkward virtual small talk (“How’s the weather in California, Andrew?” and “How is everyone coping?”), the professor clears his throat to begin class. He begins with a reading of the Archibald Lampman poem “Heat:” 

Beyond me in the fields of sun

Soaks in the grass and hath his will;

I count the marguerites one by one; 

Even the buttercups are still.” 

I walk over to the stove to stir my oatmeal, carrying my professor’s voice to the kitchen through Airpods. 

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Emptiness Ran Rife: Rina Lyshaug’s Narratives from the Emptiest Place

17 January 2022

By Stephanie Wu

Amidst the busy network of overhead trolleybus wires, two massive LED screens are situated on one of the many glass-lined commercial buildings that define the landscape of Downtown Vancouver. With a height spanning two floors, the screens emit their bright light towards the ground for hundreds of pedestrians at Robson and Granville Streets, reflecting and illuminating the area’s commercial activity. Hosted by the City of Vancouver’s public art program, Platforms 2020: Public Works, these VanLive! Screens show Vancouver-based emerging artist Rina Lyshaug’s work, Narratives from the Emptiest Place (2019).

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Affirmations for Wildflowers: An Ethnobotany of Desire: Tania Willard at SFU Audain Gallery

12 November 2021

By Andrea Valentine-Lewis

WE can CHANGE

the FUTURE is INDIGENOUS

the Land is STRONG

I AM the FUTURE

the REVOLUTION has COME

I am the LAND

I have VALUE

Tania Willard’s Affirmations for Wildflowers: An Ethnobotany of Desire, ran from September 14th to November 13th, 2020, within the street-facing windows of the SFU Audain Gallery. The seven statements including “the Land is STRONG” and “I have VALUE” were projected as glowing declarations onto a wall running the length of the windows. Each declaration, or “affirmation” as the exhibition’s title suggests, was accompanied by suspended copper-coloured reflective disks, the surface of which were etched with black wildflower silhouettes. At the bottom of each disk, a trim of pink, orange, yellow, and brown silk ribbons embellished the composition.

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when the big E unfurls its tongue: Michael Lachman at CSA Space

23 September 2021

By Alexandra Box

“Man’s greatness is always to recreate his life, to recreate what is given to him, to fashion that very thing which he undergoes. Through work he produces his own natural existence. Through science he recreates the universe by means of symbols. Through art he recreates the alliance between his body and his soul.”
– Simone Weil, The Mysticism of Work, Gravity and Grace (1947)

Late-capitalist mediascapes require the attention of the broader visual world that existed before workers encountered an economic and hygienic reordering due to mass death and unemployment, such as the affordance to some for working remotely. This social and biological decline is making it difficult—at most times, unsafe—to show up in traditional ways for provocation, or a mundane office job. Labour can only benefit from collective reflection, particularly on culture (abstraction, ornament, material, narrative) coming out of charged social and material conditions. Artist Michael Lachman grips onto the strength of fiction and satire as sculptural strategies in his solo exhibition, Let Me Introduce Myself, at CSA Space in Vancouver. Lachman transforms the gallery into a dreamlike office space riddled with stylized artifacts, producing a comedic story told by objects. Technical changes to the gallery space, such as dropping the ceiling height and lining the floor with blue modular carpet, reduced the standing posture for viewers and added to the satirical landscape of “the office.” The exhibition encapsulates the methodical rituals of the nine-to-five workday using comedy, as Lachman steers gallery visitors towards cultural mores, overdetermined ideas of professionalism, and the absurdities of manhood. 

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Experience and the Object: Experiments in Relational Art & Architecture

27 May 2021

By Laura Beshears

I step slowly into a long corridor of vertically aligned PVC pipes in two straight lines, the synthetic material contrasting with the forest surrounding it. With the view around me obscured by the structure, which grows incrementally taller as I walk through it, I direct my gaze up toward the sky and become attuned to the sounds of twigs breaking beneath my feet and wind whirring through leaves. The path leads to a larger clearing of space – although walls of PVC pipes still surround it – and I join others who had taken the same meditative stroll moments before me. I linger, beholding the canopy of trees above and letting the soundscape of nature envelope me. I exit and find myself back in the forest, but with a different sensibility. Calm and at ease, I take pleasure in having encountered nature through an innovative sensory lens. 

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Jeremy Shaw’s ‘Phase Shifting Index’ at Centre Pompidou

2 March 2021

By Helen Lee

There is no fresher horror to the modern-day luddite than the social media Live Video function. In the Live Video, the subject is tripled: there is the subject filming, the subject being viewed, and the subject auto-saved for posterity by the filming interface. Live Video has a forebearer in performance art, such as Joan Jonas’ incorporation of live video into her “actions” during the 1970’s. In describing Jonas’ performance Vertical Role (1972), curator Barbara London writes that by using live video, Jonas invokes the “unedited present” as a means of dislocating space and elongating time. (1) In contrast, the practice of “going live” on social media renders the unedited present as digital content to be viewed and shared on a for-profit platform. The medium of video art in the contemporary context is uniquely positioned to ask: Where is a better vantage point from which to view the present than Live?

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Walk into America

7 October 2020

By Patryk Stasieczek

I surprised Zoe Koke at an exhibition of hers in an East Vancouver multipurpose space. She didn’t notice me immediately, so I watched as she remedied an unwanted peekaboo of wood and canvas behind a piece of tapestry that was a part of her installation. Her movements reminded me how long it had been since we last occupied the same place—during a Montreal winter in a repurposed basement that smelled of Dove soap. Her practice became suddenly present and I half-visibly paced between her photographs occupied with thoughts on wellness, the physical materiality of being, and how a practice of writing images embodies resolution but retains layers of distortion. Days after the opening, she and I walked the Boundary Bay shoreline of the Tsawwassen First Nation with our eyes peeled for fragments of shell burnished by the water and sand.

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A Matter of Connection: Terry-Dayne Beasley’s “Proud to Honour”

10 June 2020

By Ella Adkins

 

When I moved into my new apartment this past November, I started hanging up the bits of ephemera I’ve collected along the way: a framed, embroidered bouquet of pink flowers, two large nude monochrome prints I made in that one elective at university, and a certificate. It’s printed on thick paper, feeling substantial enough to be of some importance. At the top, in gold text, it reads “The Department of Optimism is Proud to Honour” with my name italicized and underlined, all in red (my favourite colour). It then reads, “In recognition of your helpfulness, selflessness, excitability and meekness. You are a wondrous listener and your soft nature makes all around feel comforted. You’ve been likened to Anna Wintour and Jackie Kennedy. You are graceful.” The certificate is officiated with a gold sticker, embossed with the text, “DEPARTMENT OF OPTIMISM”. There’s a space at the bottom of the document stating who nominated me. It’s anonymous, although there is only one person who would liken me to Jackie Kennedy. I think about them, and the complexities and history of our relationship. I find it strange that they’ve also likened me to Anna Wintour, unsure to feel insulted or complimented, but overall, it’s amusing. After sharing this tender moment with the piece of paper in my hands, I then put it up on the wall next to my degree, and chuckle at their similarity in appearance. 

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Painting and Obstinacy

9 May 2018

By Andrew Witt

Last year a number exhibitions, events and talks addressed the state of contemporary painting in Vancouver. The following essay is a belated survey of these exhibitions and events but also an analysis of the blind spots, clichés and missed opportunities that have stood out during the discussion. Paying close attention to the works on display, ‘Painting and Obstinacy’ attempts to short-circuit the dominant currents and tendencies of the debate by thinking through how the artworks themselves, through their formal manoeuvres and political content, shore up a new vocabulary for the reception of contemporary painting in the present.

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Real Estate Developers as Curators?: Westbank’s Fight for Beauty

8 February 2018

By Brit Bachmann

 

“This exhibition is an attempt to illicit your support. We want you to buy in, to sign up, and join us in what we see as nothing less than an essential endeavour to protect, nurture, create and value all that is beautiful.” (1)

Ian Gillespie, founder of Westbank Corporation conveniently summarizes the intention of Fight for Beauty in the opening track from the audio guide. The exhibition, located in a tent outside Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim, is a lavish attempt to masquerade real estate development as art, to posture condo sales as altruism, and to mislead the public into joining a movement that satirizes anti-gentrification and affordable housing initiatives across Canada. Continue Reading

In Praise of Unforeseen Circumstances: One year of ‘art rock?’

25 November 2016

By Daniel Colussi

For just over a year Vancouver based interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker and musician Casey Wei has produced a series of shows under the banner of art rock? Wei’s practice is primarily in film and video but she has also curated several site-specific projects that transform the character and use of communal space. For Toronto’s 2015 Images Festival, Wei was the first ever artist-in-residence at the Chinatown Centre Mall on Spadina Avenue. She activated the mall’s lower mezzanine with ballroom dancing, mahjong tables, karaoke and live music, the kind of activities reflective of the demographics of mall’s primary users, who are for the most part Chinese and elderly. For the course of that week, Wei virtually never left the confines of the mall, during the day she hosted and documented the lower mezzanine and at night she had in a room in the Super 8 hotel attached to the mall. Continue Reading

How to Adult: The Musical

27 October 2016

By Nathan Marsh

The life of a so-called “millennial” is often misunderstood. For members of older generations, the panoply of digital technologies readily available to the generally tech-savvy young people of today seem to present a much easier way of living than the way they themselves once experienced. However, life in the modern digital age has its complications, a point that playwright Amy Dauer, the writer of How to Adult: The Musical which premiered at the 2016 edition of the Vancouver Fringe Festival, would no doubt be very quick to make. Continue Reading

Electric Cedar, Hemlock Blues…

19 October 2016

By Sara Korzec

From September 16th till October 22nd Field Contemporary hosted an exhibition titled Electric Cedar, Hemlock Blues by artist Cameron Kerr. A small group of sculptures, presented in a clean and minimalist arrangement in the gallery space quickly enveloped the viewers senses with the fresh scent of timber–Kerr uses wood salvaged from logging waste on northern Vancouver Island. It was difficult to control yourself and not want to touch them, as it seemed that they spoke some sort of haptic language. The leaking glaze on the geometrical sculptures resembled ceramics, (an epoxy method created this impression) which for me, triggered associations of fever visions–well, now you understand why the works were titled, Hallucinations.    Continue Reading

Of Black Holes and Feminine Flesh

12 October 2016

By Kristina Fiedrich

A woman dances alone on a stage. The swathes of fabric bellowing and collapsing around her as she moves; spinning, swirling. From one moment to the next, the dancer’s body becomes engulfed by the folds of fabric, disappearing from view, while simultaneously expanding, transforming and breathing beyond her skin. Described by art critic Mallarmé as resembling giant petals, butterflies or a conch shell unfurling, (1) the dancer, suspended in place and time, is an apparition. Her body, disproportionate and malleable, is an abstraction of flesh and movement, taking up and traveling through space. Continue Reading

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