Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Picture from Vancouver

The containers in Stan Douglas's Damaged Containers, Mitchell Island (2001) are arranged in no particular order. Whether they are awaiting repair or disassembly is uncertain. Point is they are unusable and, as shipping containers, have been taken out of circulation.

When I first saw this picture, I thought of visual art itself: from the early 20th century sculptors and their anxieties over industrialization, to Pop, Minimalism and conceptual art's interest in serial structures.

Douglas's stack of containers is and is not a serial form. It is a serial form because they are containers; it is not a serial form because each is different from the other, either by design or through wear.

The first thing I thought of when I saw Herzog & de Mueron's Vancouver Art Gallery design -- before a pagoda, an inuksuk and a stack of clothing boxes purchased during a Robson Street shopping spree -- was Douglas's picture.

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