Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Garden of Earthly Delights (1490--1510)



On the wall beside Geoffrey's model is a print-out of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" (1955), a poem that, as Ginsberg would be the first to admit (if he were still alive), is indebted to Walt Whitman, whose Leaves of Grass (1855) supplied Farmer with the title of his dOCUMENTA 13 processual installation.

More noticeable is a large reproduction of Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights (1490-1510), a ten-foot-long oil-on-oak triptych whose title was introduced to many of us in the late-1960s through this rather sensuous ad from Clairol:



One can spend a lot of time reading Bosch's painting. Something that occurred to me this time was that nothing bad happens in the central panel, that everything bad happens at the far right of the diptych, and at night.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Portrait



Hanging in Geoffrey Farmer's studio is a painting of me when I was six-years-old.

The story of the painting goes like this: my father lent an artist friend some money, and the friend, realizing he could not repay my father before his "impending suicide," asked my father if he would like a painting instead, and my father said, "Okay, how about a portrait of my son?"

For the next six Tuesdays I met this short, sad and hairy man on the doorstep of my house at 3:30PM, then sat in the dining room bored while he painted me from the chest up. At the end of each session he covered the painting and took it with him.

A few weeks after his last visit my father received a call from the artist's landlord, who notified him that he could have the painting -- if he paid the artist's overdue rent.

The artist had a room in one of those decrepit big ass mansions on 15th, just east of Arbutus. I remember my sister and I sitting in the backseat as my father went into the house and, after what seemed like an eternity, emerged with the painting before him. The Mona Lisa could not have had a more ambiguous expression than the one my father gave that painting.

And then the reveal: my father slid behind the wheel and tilted the painting towards my mother. She gasped. I will never forget my father's finger as it tapped twice on my sweater. "I like the way he did the collar."

The story of how Geoffrey ended up with this painting is less clear, but he has had it for some time now and on Monday, while I was visiting his studio to see his model for his entry into the 2017 Venice Biennale, there it was -- to the left of the kitchen sink and above a cutting board.

"Why is it crooked?" I asked.

"Here, I'll fix it." Geoffrey tapped the bottom right side of the painting and it levelled off. "Better?"


The subject remained off-kilter. But other than that, it was.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

The expanded book form of George W.S. Trow's November 1980 New Yorker article "Within the Context of No Context" is back at my bedside, and this morning, while I nibbling on the first pages of its New Yorker portion, I thought, Trow is bothered by demographics.

Here is a line from his "History" chapter: "History became the history of demographics."

Here is the line that follows (from a second "History" chapter):  "History has been the record of growth, conflict, and destruction."

And the line that follows that (from "The New History"): "The New History was the record of the expression of demographically significant preferences: the lunge of demography here as opposed to there."

And the line that follows that (from "The Decline of Adulthood"): "In the New History, nothing was judged -- only counted."

And from there it only gets more interesting.

(Here is a link to the Atlantic Monthly's 1984 "Beyond Demographics" article by James Atlas.)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Do-It-Yourself



A fews years ago, while preparing an essay on Attila Richard Lukacs and Michael Morris's collaborative Polaroid project, I spoke with Attila about collage and he told me how, in the early 1980s, he, Angela Grossmann and Derek Root would make collages together -- never for the sake of making them, but towards the making of their paintings.

Recently, when asked by someone younger than myself about the early 1980s, and what, exactly, happened in those years, I recalled what Attila told me, and how this idea of collage acting in advance of something other than itself seemed like such an early 1980s thing.

As I related this to my friend, I was reminded of the scene in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), where an exuberant young rock star named Dusty is brought to the studio of the older and more distant Frederick to purchase art for his new East Hampton mansion. When Dusty asks what Frederick might have for sale, Frederick uncomfortably mentions some small drawings, at which point Dusty asks for something bigger, brasher, more colourful, and of course the inevitable meltdown.

The image atop this post is a book I have hung onto for a number of years. I keep thinking I will make from it some collages, like I used to do every Easter when I made cards and sent them to relatives on my father's mother's side of the family for whom Easter was, as my babushka always told me, "bigger than Christmas." But these people are dead now, and I have little room in my life for books I keep meaning to get to.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

recto-verso at CSA



CSA continues to mount engaging exhibitions with no public money, in a space about a quarter the size of Artspeak. The gallery's current exhibition, entitled recto-verso, features five works by the ever-exacting Lyndl Hall.

According to the exhibition text (at the very least co-authored by curator Steffanie Ling), "the works in recto-verso are concerned with division and allocation in an undifferentiated plane; the interpretation of omens and signs; as well as measuring, counting, rhyming and daydreams."

Moving clock-wise from left as you enter the gallery:

1) Reveries (hopscotch variation 1-3). Digital print, 2012


2) Tools and Equipment of the Cartographer and Draughtsman, Restaged (from "Elements of Cartography," 1966). Digital print, 2013


3) recto-verso chapbook. Digital print, 2016 (this work is a take away)


4) Sundials & Hopscotch: A Handbook (recto-verso). Digital print, 2016




5) Reveries (pocket sundial). Digital print, 2012


In picture-taking my way through this exhibition, I found that I was holding my camera (phone) similarly to how the actor is holding the "pocket sundial". Funny how that goes. (Apologies for the quality of my pictures.)

recto-verso is up until April 3.

* photo of Lyndl Hall from Vancouver Is Awesome

Friday, March 25, 2016

Dreams



Such a weird dream last night! One of those then-as-now dreams where I was fifteen years old and my school was having a paper drive. It was a stormy Thursday night and I was bundling and stacking newspapers in Debbie Thomas’s garage -- when suddenly the wind blew in and, like the explosion at the end of Zabriskie Point, the news was everywhere!

Among the things I saw amidst this swirling slo-mo collage was a front page picture of the World Trade Centre's Twin Towers; a book review that mentioned Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias” (1818); a picture of Georges Clémenceau about to sign the Treaty of Versailles; and a picture of Donald Trump watching a Yankees game with his son and George Steinbrenner.

What am I to infer from this mess of text and image? Well, I am sure I am not the first to compare the Twin Towers to Shelley's “two vast and trunkless legs of stone.” Nor am I the first to point out that the last big country to be humiliated prior to the U.S. on September 11, 2001 was Germany at Versailles in 1919. As to what happened approximately 15 years after these humiliations? In 1933, the Nazi’s seized power and in November, 2016 Donald Trump will be elected the 45th president of the United States.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Europe Travel Alert



I took the liberty of making some amendments to the U.S. State Department’s recent European travel advisory. Hope they help!



Europe Travel Alert
LAST UPDATED: MARCH 22, 2016

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to potential risks and benefits of travel to and throughout Europe following several terrorist attacks, including the March 22 attacks in Brussels claimed by ISIL. Terrorist groups continue to plan and defend themselves against near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation, but not bookstores, art galleries, theatres or cinemas.  This Travel Alert expires on June 20, 2016.
U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places, unless your work with one of our agencies requires that you be in these places. Exercise particular caution during religious holidays, and at large festivals or events. But if caution is not an option, feel free to respect all religious holidays and festivals.
U.S. citizens should also: 
       Follow the instructions of local authorities, especially in an emergency.

Learn the names of items sold in local (ethnic) markets.

       Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.

Speak to those who do not speak English in the same volume as you would to those who do.

       Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.

If you want to take somebody’s picture, ask the person in the language of the country you are travelling in.

       Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.

Encourage family members who are antagonistic towards the countries you are visiting, or are about to visit, to keep and open mind.

       Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

European governments continue to guard against terrorist attacks and conduct raids to disrupt plots, often killing or injuring innocent people in the process. We work closely with our allies and will continue to share information with our European partners that will help identify and counter terrorist threats, especially those partners who do not share our definition of a terrorist.
For further information:
       See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).


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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Richard William Hill



A key work in the Kamloops Art Gallery's recent "Custom Made/Tsitslem te stem teck'ultens-kuc" was Amy Mabeuf's Jimmie Durham 1974 (2014). Here, the younger artist took an oft-quoted statement spoken by the elder Durham in 1974 (as contained in my review of the exhibition), broke it into lines and, using blue plastic beads, centre-justified these lines onto a blue plastic tarpaulin. The effect is like that of a poem found at a memorial, or a roadblock backdrop. (The image above shows the work's earlier installation at the Art Gallery of Alberta, the image below includes a roadblock backdrop.)


Although it is clear that Malbeuf takes issue with the sentiment expressed in Durham's statement, it is equally clear that she respects the artist and understands the historical and social context in which this statement was made. As such, I see Jimmie Durham 1974 operating as a significant artwork -- an artwork based as much in (positive) critique as it is in formal and material intelligence (note how the monochrome is used, how the finished and unfinished wood together provide a "frame").

I bring up Jimmie Durham 1974 because Richard William Hill has posted the first of what will be a series of monthly posts on the Canadian Art website. In a prefatory note, the ECUAD scholar hopes that these posts will allow him to "think out loud in public about questions and controversies arising from [his] recent research for a book about contemporary indigenous art from 1980 to 1995." For his first post, Hill asks, "Was indigenous art better in the early 1980s and early '90s?"

A provocative question, of course, one that had me responding to Hill at the level of language (for example, what is the measure of "better" and "best" and "good" and "bad" art?). In response to my response (at the bottom of his post he provides his contact info), Hill wrote to me:

"[F]or this column I thought I’d put my cards on the table: bad art is conservative and tells us what we already know in forms we are already familiar with, good art opens up new possibilities and helps us understand the emergence of new ideas or perspectives. I didn’t say so, but I think we can identify the "best” as those works that fundamentally changed how we see things. These words are blunt tools, but in a short column designed to be provocative I am happy to be blunt. After three years working at the AGO I developed a pretty good sense of the perils of connoisseurship, but these days I am more worried about the timid “post-critical” culture we seem to be in than anything else, and I would rather err on the side of having an opinion in public, assuming that it is provisional and will be sculpted and refined in response to other, differing opinions."

Thank you, Richard, for taking the time to respond to my questions, and to Canadian Art for committing to what I am sure will be a generative and long-lasting conversation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Photo Booth



A common sight in the malls and bus stations of my youth was the photo booth. Back in the day, you could use its photos for your ID. Not anymore. Restrictions on what a passport photo should (and should not) look like are as long as your arm.

The picture above is of the photo booth at Oakridge Centre, where I go once a year for my blood work. But it could be any photo booth, anywhere. Something about the architecture of these booths, how similar they are -- and how similar all of us look while waiting for their photos to discharge.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Somewhat Mine: A Nanaimo Retrospective



On Saturday we got up early so we could visit Ron Tran's exhibition at the Nanaimo Art Gallery. Entitled Somewhat Mine: A Nanaimo Retrospective, the exhibition features past work Ron made in different cities but recreated for (and with) local populations.


The NAG is a relatively new building, though its interior display space belongs more to the 19th century than this one. Nevertheless, Ron and curator Jesse Birch found a way around the space's constraints by bringing in fence panels on which to support the work. (Pictured in the monitor above is an older performance Ron did at a Burger King on Main Street, where he mimicked the person eating across from him.)


After our tour, and a small lunch at Mon Petit Choux (where the borscht was salty, not sweet), we headed to Parksville, to pick through the Society of Organized Services Thrift Store.


From there, a visit to Shack Island...


…where we scampered about…


…before stopping at the Terminal Mall liquor store…


... then to Ron's for pizza and puppetry.


Still not sure how we made the last ferry back. But we did. And a lovely time was had by all!

Sunday, March 20, 2016


A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

For those of us on the west coast, we are now fifteen hours into spring. The quince across the lane is red, the Forsythia across the fence is yellow, but we are weeks from the California Lilac's powdery blue burst.

Wouldn't it be nice to have all these shrubs in bloom at once?

Friday, March 18, 2016

"These people, dressed as they are…"




Recently I spoke with an art student who, though only twenty, told me that "one of [her] many regrets in life" is that she never had enough time to herself while growing up; how if it wasn't her nannies or teachers or coaches hovering over her, it was her parents; and how this has contributed to why she is having a hard time making art. Eventually she asked me about my own childhood, if I had enough time to myself, and I wondered aloud if I had too much time, or if indeed the things that occupied my time were in fact more social than I thought they were -- like reading and drawing, practicing the piano, watching TV...

For me, TV was my nanny, my teacher, and I loved coming home after school and watching weird soap operas like Dark Shadows and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman while my parents were still at work. But if I came home early enough -- if we only had a half day at school -- I would watch the game shows that preceded them. One game show I watched a lot of billed itself as "television's marketplace," Let's Make A Deal.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Conversation That Is the Art of Our Time



Art historian Owen Duffy (pictured above) concludes his recent Momus review of The Eccentrics exhibition at SculptureCentre with a line that brings to mind Canadian Art editor David Balzer's impatience with the under-producing exhibition review. Duffy writes:

Perhaps a crucial step toward not having to justify art through quantifiable means like economic impact and market performance is identifying and critiquing the very idea that art is expected to perform in collusion with the quantified world. 

In a similar vein, Vancouver-based artist Marcus Bowcott published an open letter in the North Shore News last month in protest of Capilano University's recent shut down of its visual art studio program:

Dear Editor:
“It’s the creative industries, it’s tourism, it’s business, it’s legal studies.” -– CapU President Kris Bulcroft, 2016
The final art class at CapU is in honour of the president’s choice of ‘creative industries.’
Last week we considered how convex forms imply growth and how concave forms hint of collapse and implosion. In this final class we will consider strategies of learning about art and the humanities in an imploding ‘re-visioned’ (artless) university, a university in which art has been sacrificed on the altar of business.  
If you are a student who wants to continue learning about art your only option now is to seek instruction in other disciplines. I recommend the business program. Business has become the final authority on art and culture at CapU. Consider this: during a recent CapU board meeting, a business faculty board member stated that the sculpture of protest by a studio art instructor “should be removed, I don’t like it ... it’s disturbing.”
This business instructor is an authority on art precisely because she is a business instructor and business has the advantage of making art a ‘currency’ relevant to advertising and branding.
Art is business and business is art. If Pablo Picasso were alive today he’d be a venture capitalist interested in derivatives and the bottom line. He certainly wouldn’t be making controversial sculptures.
He certainly wouldn’t ask: “What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who has only eyes if he is a painter, or ears if he is a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he is a poet, or even, if he is a boxer, just his muscles? Far, far from it: at the same time, he is also a political being, constantly aware of the heartbreaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. How could it be possible to feel no interest in other people, and with cool indifference to detach yourself from the very life which they bring you so abundantly? No, painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.” (Pablo Picasso, March, 1945),
Ahh, sadly, that quote is from an old lesson. Now, back to today’s class: the manipulation of form and colour in the pursuit of influencing public opinion for better business.
Studio Art class dismissed.
Marcus Bowcott
North Vancouver

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"When In Rome" (1968)




Yesterday's post included footage of the March 11, 2016 Trump rally in Chicago, an event that seemed outrageous until I returned to footage of the August 1968 Democratic Convention, where Chicago's Mayor Daley invited the cops in, and they wreaked havoc on everyone -- not just on dissenters, but on the media as well.

Among those who attended the 1968 Democratic Convention was folksinger Phil Ochs, who had released Tape From California a month before. This is an album I listened to a lot in the early 1980s, when I started writing songs of my own.

For me, Ochs's "When In Rome" is a more lyrical (and more satisfying) treatment of the times than better known summations by Don McLean ("American Pie", 1971) and the Eagles ("Hotel California", 1976). Story of Ochs's life (and temperment) that he did not receive the attention for his songs that McLean and members of the Eagles received for theirs.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Zombies of Dorland



For the longest time Canadian Art (online) ran an ad for Chubb that read "Chubb Knows Certainty" (a variant of this campaign is "Chubb's...Creates Certainty"). Because I believe the best thing art has going for it is certainty's opposite (ambiguity), I was glad to see it go…

…only to be replaced with an ad for an auction house that features Kim "Doig Richter" Dorland's zombie paintings (with prices attached).

Speaking of zombies, how many did you count while watching the recent Trump campaign casting call for November's re-enactment of the Beer Hall Putsch?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Studio Visit



Jewish Museum curator David S. Palmer recently published a piece in ARTnews entitled "Go Pro: The Hyper-Professionalization of the Emerging Artist". Palmer begins by telling the reader how he approached an artist about a studio visit. Not towards a specific exhibition, but to learn more about the artist's practice (something Palmer says he made clear at the outset). Below is the second paragraph (click here for all of it).

When I arrived at the studio, an assistant greeted me, then the artist’s dealer, followed by another representative from the gallery, who said he was a director of museum relations or museum engagement or something along those lines. I quickly realized that, despite my explicitly articulated interest in having the visit be an opportunity for research, the meeting would be a lot more formal than I had expected. When the artist launched into a carefully practiced presentation about the work, it was clear which lines were excerpted from press releases or articles. A chronological recounting of the artist’s short career came next, followed by the story of how he began making the type of work he is best known for, and finally some information about upcoming institutional exhibitions overseas. When I asked about one body of work that had been skipped over, the dealer nearby interjected, “You don’t have to talk about that,” acting something like legal representation. (Coincidently, or more likely not, I later heard that the work in question had been the subject of a lawsuit filed by a collector.) When the presentation was over, I felt like the artist was a brand representative who had just delivered a meticulously rehearsed sales pitch. The lecture-like format made it clear that my feedback wasn’t going to be welcome, but as the visit started to wind down, I was asked a question for the first time that morning: “So, what exhibitions do you have coming up that you might want to put our artist into?” As I explained the research-based purpose of my visit (yet again), and went on to clarify that I didn’t have any shows in mind, I realized (yet again) just how complicit curators often are these days in legitimizing mediocre work being aggressively pushed for the sake of financial gain. The artist in question was still only 20-something.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wood Land School



This weekend Or Gallery and SFU Galleries presented Wood Land School: Critical Anthology.

Wood Land School is "an ongoing project, usually in flux and with no current place but always with particular places in mind. Projects have taken such forms as exhibitions, talks, seminars, residency, and an upcoming book of criticism in 2016." Participants include Raymond Boisjoly, David Horvitz, Tanya Lukin-Linklater, Duane Linklater and Walter Scott.

For Wood Lands School's sixth iteration, Linklater commissioned texts by the above (save Horvitz, who did not participate), as well as texts by David Garneau, Candice Hopkins, Amy Kazymerchyk, Liz Park, Postcommodity and Cheyanne Turions (pictured above). I do not have access to the directives these artists and curators were given, but in the symposium description Linklater expresses a need to "address the lack of critical writing on the work of contemporary Indigenous artists" -- a disingenuous claim if ever there was one, but, in the mostly unceded province of British Columbia, where claims are made without consequences, a claim I can live with. 

I could not attend all of the symposium's presentations and Q+A, but I was there for Linklater's introduction; all but the reading of Postcommodity's paper; and Walter Scott's Sunday morning opener. The two things I retained from Linklater's introduction -- the two concepts that seemed to float in and out of everything I heard on those days -- concerned 1) Linklater's introduction of "simultaneity" (sans reference to its use in physics, law and music) and 2) his use of the term "refusal," where one reserves the right to not answer to or participate in that which is asked of him or her.

Of course there was more to this symposium, all of which I am hoping will be made available through the Or's ongoing program of podcasts. In the meantime, some of what I heard this weekend is finding its way into the plenary speech I am writing for Brock University's The Concept of Vancouver conference this October, where I intend to speak of Vancouver not as a unique site of "photo-conceptual" art or "language" poetics, but one where indigenous people are given symbolic power (art), not political economic power (self-determination through the treaty process), and how this lack of recognition has shaped Vancouver, cursed it, made it the city it is deserves to be.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Coincidentally



Two art magazines launched new issues this month.

On the last page of the Spring issue of Canadian Art, a reproduction of Édouard Vuillard's Portrait de Pierre Bonnard (1930-35).


On the cover of Mousse 52, a reproduction of the same painting, though a lighter version.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Sold



A walk I like turns left at Glen Drive and heads south across Kingsway to the Ridgeway Greenway at 37th. There is a bench there that I text my friends from.

A few weeks ago I texted a friend a For Sale Sold sign I saw along the way. Later I looked up the company. Heyday Realty is a family affair!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

House of Cards



Realtor solicitation notices are on the rise. A few years back these cards came once every six months -- now they are a weekly occurrence.

Recently I started monitoring them. Sure enough they arrive in patterns, as if the realtors sat down to decide who had the first and third weeks of the month, and who had the second and fourth.


Paul Eviston (above, with the Chauncey Gardiner channel changer) is the reigning king of housing sales in my neighbourhood. Prior to Paul, it was Robin Vrba, who has since taken her magic to New York City and left her trapline to protégé Sayo Nickerson (below, centre).


As much as I appreciate Sayo's emphasis on teamwork ("Team Nickerson"), I would be more convinced of her sincerity if, when composing her team pictures, she had everyone in the same room at once.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

There Isn't Any "They're" There



They're not picking up their mail because -- to paraphrase Gertrude Stein on her childhood home of Oakland -- there isn't any "they're" there.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Monday, March 7, 2016

Lucy Lippard



Lucy Lippard is no stranger to Vancouver. Between January 13 - February 8, 1970, she mounted one of her Numbers exhibitions here (955, 000 appeared at the VAG and at other locations). She was also a reader of the Western Front's defunct Front magazine, where, in its Summer, 1992 issue, she came upon Renee Rodin's "We Are Cultivating Tolerance" and mentioned it in her groundbreaking book Lure of the Local (1997).

The picture up top was taken by Christos Dikeakos in December, 1969 -- a documentation of Robert Smithson's Glue Pour performance. To Smithson's right are Dennis Wheeler and Ilya Pegonis; to his left, Lucy Lippard. Click here for Adam Lauder's recent re-appreciation of Smithson's "Vancouver Sojourn" in Canadian Art.

Lippard's most recent "visit" to Vancouver is her contribution to Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun's Unceded Territories catalogue, to be published on the occasion of his Museum of Anthropology survey (due to open May 10). I am hoping Lippard will come to town for this, give a talk, meet with us as she has in the past. She is such a generous person, and a big reason why Vancouver art looks and feels the way it does.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

WNDW Gallery



Although I had committed to both days of Cutting Copper: Indigenous Resurgent Practice, I just didn't have it in me to take that second trip to UBC, especially after reading what I thought to be the most intriguing of the press releases on Instant Coffee's March listserve: Jasmine Baetz and Christian Vistan's ongoing Cactus Packing Project, mounted this time through artist Lexie Owen's WNDW curatorial project.


The long window at the bottom left of the house is the exhibition space where the travelling cacti are displayed.


Here is the press release that appeared on Instant Coffee's listserve:

Jasmine Baetz + Christian Vistan : The Cactus Packing Project
WNDW gallery @ 943 10th Ave E
FEB 20 - MAR 6

CURATOR'S TOUR MAR 5 @ 1130am

This WNDW is at 943 10th Ave E, Vancouver + will be showing The Cactus Packing Project, a joint initiative of emerging artists Christian Vistan and Jasmine Baetz.

Baetz and Vistan are interested in their nomadic identities and personal histories. The Cactus Packing Project is an ongoing collaboration that grew out of the time Vistan and Baetz spent in Vancouver together, and is inspired by the sculptural assemblage forms that Baetz's cactus, Jorge, took when packed for a move.

In 2014, Baetz and Vistan started sending cacti to each other in the post, observing and documenting the symptoms and logistics of border-crossing transactions and transitory bodies, such as the cacti.

Baetz, originally from Ontario has resided in Mexico, British Columbia, and the United States, and is currently based in Boston; while Vistan, originally from Bataan, Philippines, currently resides in Vancouver. Both Baetz and Vistan are interested in how this jumble of locations and their specific histories relate to their respective identities. In confronting this puzzle of identity, Baetz and Vistan are considering how locales and local histories relate to their work and to the larger issues of displacement, nomads and nomadism(s).

https://www.facebook.com/events/1017541344950632/

About WNDW:

WNDW is an itinerant gallery space that inhabits residential windows. The project aims to bring contemporary art out of self-selecting high culture areas placing it directly into the quotidian life of the residential street. The project supports Vancouver's emerging artists, providing them with an innovative space to display their work as well as supporting them financially through the payment of artist fees.

WNDW is administered as part of the Parks Board Fieldhouse Studio Residency Program, at Burrardview Park, where project director Lexie Owen is Artist-in-Residence. This project is also made possible by generous funding from the BC Arts Council and The City of Vancouver.

www.wndwgallery.com

Here is a picture of Owens (left) and Vistan (right), as interviewed by Lito Howse (middle) during Owens's curatorial tour yesterday afternoon:


And what the hell, here is a picture of Lucy Lippard. She would love this project!


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Voy a Recuerda Berta Cáceres



Berta Cáceres was a leader of the Lenca people. Recently she spoke out against the damming of the Gualcarque River, and everyone -- including the ten families that run Honduras -- knew it. Two days ago "thieves" broke into her home and "robbed" and killed her.


Cáceres, who would have turned 43 yesterday, was on my mind during Dana Claxton's Friday afternoon performance of Follow the Red Sinew, where, among the things that I could see, the artist unspooled a length of red string around the Belkin Art Gallery (to consecrate it and its contents? to protect herself from the building and what's inside?), before leading us indoors where she tossed down some bells, wrapped and unwrapped herself in and from approximately 15 yards of red cloth, cut and folded the cloth into nine sections, then distributed its sections amongst those gathered.


I was among those to receive a section of that cloth. And although I offered it to a friend who has worked closely with Dana, I was told by my friend to keep it with me because it was given to me, not her. So yes, I will keep this cloth with me -- in memory of Dana's performance, in memory of my friend's insistence, and in memory of the great Berta Cáceres.



Friday, March 4, 2016

Towards a More Patient Form of Purple



So now what? Is there a show worth reviewing? Always. Do I want to? Not particularly. Or at least not excessively.

Instead, a more economical (modern?) form of art review consistent with the decline in what those who write reviews are paid, a decline that parallels a decline in the publication of art reviews (because the robots at places like Canadian Art are telling their employer that not enough people are reading reviews within the first fifteen minutes of their publication), not to mention an overall decline in the attendance of the exhibitions that generate reviews (see Ben Davis's latest article).

Something like this: three questions. And from each, a brief response.

What is it?

It is a “propaedeutic device” (same as a hermeneutic device?), an online graphic from an article by Ben Davis that professes to explain something called the Art World.

How is it made?

It is made with a software program like Excel.

What does it mean/How is it relevant?

It means people are still holding to distracting categories like “Mass Culture” and “Art World” when they could be attempting more intuitive or indeed telepathic forms of communicating the kinds of sensations that are lost in that most reified form of thought: not so much knowledge but its spawn -- information

Hands up all those who have for some time now committed themselves to the transmission and reception of sensation. Hands up all those who don't mind the wait.