555 Hamilton St.
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Gallery hours 12 - 5PM
ExhibitionDavid Askevold, Stephan Dillemuth, Paul Gellman, Frauke Gust, Judith Hopf, Annette Kelm, Alice Könitz, Cristóbal Lehyt, Julie Lequin, Marriage (James Tsang/Math Bass), Reza Monahan, Arthur Ou, Katrin Pesch, Fredrik Strid, Stephanie Taylor, and Michaela Wü
New Ghost Entertainment-Entitled
October 13 - November 11, 2006
Curated by Katrin Pesch
Ghosts are in great demand these days. Not only have they been haunting theoretical discourse, most famously in the writings of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, but numerous dissertations and publications from literary and film scholars as well as scholars in the fields of postcolonial, queer, and gender studies are considering the social and cultural meaning of specters and phantasms from multiple perspectives. Within the realm of art ghosts have also been experiencing a renaissance, appearing frequently in artworks as well as exhibition titles, articles, and publications.
And yet the mythological or literary figure of the ghost is by no means a novelty. At least since antiquity ghosts have been invoked as symbols for the unsettling resurgence of past events into the present, and since the Enlightenment they have been brought into play within a variety of disciplines as a catalyst for critical reflection on social events.
All this led to the idea of bringing together artists and writers whose works seem to conjure up ghosts in one way or another. “New Ghost Entertainment–Entitled” poses the question of whether an engagement with mediumism, spiritualism, or ghost stories can serve as a contemporary approach toward inventing—or reinventing—artistic and political forms of expression, and whether the metaphor of the ghost can add a useful dimension to critical engagement with social and political phenomena.
The medium of film—which, with its ability to dematerialize and create doubles for the body, itself has a ghostly quality—is central to the project. A film program curated by Madeleine Bernstorff presents films in a ‘new ghost’ mood, evoking a world in which specters are symptoms of unresolved relationships, or of disorder and injustice. Regarding the many attempts to represent the nonrepresentable, the program does not concern questions of authenticity or false representations of past realities, but rather how history became the battlefield of representation that constitutes the current symbolic, economic, and political realities.
A variety of specters have made an appearance at the beginning of the twenty-first century in Western industrial nations, and they often seem to go hand in hand. To name but a few, these include the specters of national security, oil shortages, the revival of nationalism, the new right, and an increasingly neoconservative stance regarding international politics. At the same time, phantasms of military and geopolitical power determine the current political debate. While giving a full account of such complex problems is not the goal of the project, these frightening social developments provide the context for “New Ghost Entertainment–Entitled.”
Films by Fredrick Marx, Ken Jacobs, and Joyce Wieland and Karlheinz Martin with music selection by Julian Göthe, to be screened at the Pacific Cinémathèque, 1131 Howe Street, Vancouver, October 14, 2006, 7:30pm
A magazine will be published especially for this exhibition. It will feature contributions by Madeleine Bernstorff, Walead Beshty, Sladja Blazan, CHEAP and Vaginal Davis, Doris Chon, Marie Jager, Alan Klima, Molly McGarry, Michael Rashkow, Josef Strau, Odila Triebel, Jan Tumlir, Niels Werber, Michaela Wünsch, and the artists in the show.
“New Ghost Entertainment–Entitled” is a project produced in cooperation with Kunsthaus Dresden and funded by the Federal Cultural Foundation of Germany. The exhibition will be on view at Kunsthaus Dresden, Municipal Gallery of Contemporary Art Dresden, Germany, from December 9, 2006 – February 11, 2007.
el mundo no escuchará
September 9 - October 6, 2006
In his work Phil Collins examines the emotional core of portraiture and lens–based media, and often engages communities ordinarily excised from our understanding of contemporary situations. His sites of production—places as varied as Belfast, Baghdad, Bogotá, Kosovo and Ramallah— are all bound together by political and social conflict derivative of imperialist histories. And yet contrary to the journalistic approach that suppresses the representation of individual subjects in favor of a generalized (and simplified) political collectivity, Collins leaves specific geopolitical referents just beyond the picture frame where they inhabit more nuanced, complicated positions. His own position does, of course, give rise to questions about the exploitative potential of photography, especially as practiced by someone who is an outsider to these charged situations but who desires a brief entry into them. The resulting encounters are filled with curiosity, sincerity and emotional investment, but are enacted under the strict terms set out by the artist. According to Kate Bush, “Collins’ artistic strategy has become to exaggerate both what is given, and what is taken, on any or both sides of a photographic transaction.”
Collins’ practice often elicits a convocation of individuals, and is process-, or better still, event-oriented. el mundo no escuchará is a karaoke project produced in 2004 for fans of The Smiths in Bogotá, Colombia. While karaoke is perceived to have a fundamentally democratic function—offering an opportunity to briefly take the place of your idol—its musical content is conventionally the deplorable, lack-luster chirp of the mainstream. Collins chose to work with The Smiths partly because of the artist’s own generational and geographical proximity to the band—but more importantly because, despite all of the localisms that tie The Smiths to a particular place and a specific historical moment, they have managed to gain a widely international fan base that defies so many of the ways we have come to think about identity politics and cannot be simply dismissed as another incidence of the homogenizing effects of a bland, global pop culture.
Over the course of two and a half months Collins worked with local musicians in Bogotá to re-record, note for note, the 1986 compilation “The World Won’t Listen” in its entirety, while at the same time launching a citywide campaign carried out in bars, universities, music venues and on the radio, soliciting “the shy, the dissatisfied, narcissists, and anyone who’s ever wished they could be someone else for a night” to be filmed singing their favorite Smiths songs and to be treated like a star. Over 60 fans turned out and the three-day filming was concluded with a live music and karaoke event that drew hundreds of people only to be abruptly interrupted (but not halted altogether) by the explosion of one of Bogotá’s main electrical towers that left the city in darkness for over twelve hours.
Collins has produced one other version of The Smiths Karaoke in Istanbul (dünya dinlemiyor, 2005), and will complete the trilogy later this year in an as yet undisclosed location.
ExhibitionNicole + Ryan
June 24 - July 22, 2006
For Sister, Sister collaborative duo Nicole + Ryan utilize their trajectory from Vancouver to Omaha and back as the basis for an imagined sister city relationship. Invited by the Bemis Center for the Contemporary Arts to perform an artist residency, the couple lived in Omaha, Nebraska for a period of three months. There, they initiated a series of works that examine ideas of cultural twinning through reference to the ubiquitous live/work studio model. Previously the artists have identified their live/work space in Vancouver as a conceptual frame in working through issues of site specificity, cultural mobility, and urbanism.
Sister, Sister continues these investigations with nicole + ryan hosting the Or gallery for the duration of the exhibition. The newly designated O!R gallery will be located at 882 East Hastings Street with gallery operations and hours remaining the same.
Inspired by the late 19th century boosterism of Omaha’s Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, nicole + ryan hope to bring a little flavour to their own city. Revuocnav now.
One is Never Enough
May 12 - June 10, 2006
“With wavering clarity we understand that what we do is confined to the limitations of representation and we’re okay with that. As a product and service Instant Coffee is an effective substitute: it mimics the real thing without the pretense of being better. It isn’t that much easier to make, which is reason enough to justify it. Taste is a factor, taste being an important way to designate quality and define preference. But quality is too particular and preferences change. They are superfluous really, misnomers that distract from the basic reasons for ingesting either the real thing or its substitute. Value is in their effect. In its taste, Instant Coffee barely resembles the real thing, but its effect is the same. Regardless of taste, it still works. Quality is beside the point. In this disregard Instant Coffee becomes a medium to be used. This is Instant Coffee.”*
For “One is Never Enough” Instant Coffee will conduct a series of event-based activities that center on and around a sculptural installation: a sunken living room built inside the Or Gallery. Events (both private and public) will be hosted in the “living room” throughout the duration of the exhibition and will include:
MAY 12: opening party. 8pm- late with dj granny ark & 537 security by jason fitzpatrick
Instant Coffee is an artist collective based in Toronto and Vancouver. They want more than they can give. Instant Coffee’s most consistent members are Jinhan Ko, Jenifer Papararo, Kate Monro, Jon Sasaki, and Cecilia Berkovic with the recent addition of Emily Hogg and Kelly Lycan. Instant Coffee have exhibited widely, most recently at the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco; SparwasserHQ, Berlin; the San Juan Print Triennial, Puerto Rico with an upcoming exhibition at Lugar a Dudas, Cali, Colombia.
Instant Coffee: Get Social or Get Lost.
April 1 - April 29, 2006
Adventure playgrounds were popularized in Europe after WWII out of necessity and were heroicized in the 1960’s as spaces of ‘free play,’ where play architecture was designed and built by the user, in opposition to ‘fixed play’: modular climbing structures designed by architects and urban planners not adaptable to individual users.
In 1968 the Danish artist Palle Nielsen presented an experimental research project entitled Model for a Qualitative Society. This work staged a children’s playground in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Over the course of the exhibition the museum had 33,000 visitors, 20,000 of whom were children. As with the adventure playgrounds of the day, Nielsen’s Model had political aspirations for the creation of a ‘free’ space. In accordance with Marxist ideas, it was believed that enabling children to produce their own playground liberated the means of production and the potentials of the individual. In turn, an acceptance of the children’s chaotic building aesthetic was seen as encouraging a freer tomorrow. Over the course of the 1980s the aesthetic of these self-built adventure playgrounds became reinterpreted as both ugly and dangerous.
Most adventure playgrounds have now been replaced by aesthetisized, civic constructions which promise greater safety precautions for children despite the well documented fact there are far fewer injuries on adventure playgrounds than on conventional ones.
For the duration of one month the artist will collaborate with a group of public primary schools and play workers to build an adventure playground at the Or Gallery. In attempting to build an adventure playground Corin Sworn uses repetition to re-test a previous social experiment. Within a scientific experimental model repetition is used to examine the effect of variables upon research findings. Adventure Playground seeks to examine a contemporary aesthetic reading of this child built architecture.
PanelJade Blade, Peter Culley, Tim Lee, Laura Piasta, Matthew Sawyer
The Saddest Music in the World…Ever.
Thursday March 9, 2006
Curated by Brady Cranfield
In conjunction with the Or Gallery’s exhibition Why I’m So Unhappy, (see entry below), the Music Appreciation Society presented: The Saddest Music in the World…Ever.
Panel discussion and listening event with:
Why I'm So Unhappy
February 25 - March 25, 2006
Bas Jan Ader, Víctor Albarracín, Debra Baxter, Marianne Bos, Elkin Calderón, Dana Claxton, Derek Brunen, Wilson Díaz, Tomás Giraldo, Simón Hernández, Hadley + Maxwell, Khan Lee, Kelly Lycan, Juan Mejía, Jonathan Middleton, James Nizam, Anna Sew Hoy, Gabriel Sierra, Althea Thauberger, Francisco Toquica, Jeff Tutt, Giovanni Vargas, Rolando Vargas, and Neil Wedman.
A different version of this exhibition had originally been planned to take place in Bogotá, Colombia as a sort of humorous, and yet sincere, affirmation of the unhappy quality of life in that city, but more importantly, the sense of fatalism that arises out of decades of conflict and underdevelopment. When the circumstances of everyday living are characterized by failure, frustration and a lingering (if not immediate) sense of tragedy, always expecting the worst to happen (and doing so with a casual laugh or a shrug) seems to be a useful method of coping.
But unhappiness clearly has many different manifestations irrespective of historical or material circumstances. The resolution of basic needs seems always to bring with it the creation of false ones and then enough dissatisfaction or boredom to produce more unhappiness. North American cultural optimism promises a happy ending, but it is usually contingent upon values associated with productivity, competition, and consumption. Too much rain can also make a person extremely unhappy.
The trope of the melancholic artist comes from a long tradition of association between creativity and unhappiness. In its most intimate, and unmediated emotional form, unhappiness can have disastrous results as a point of departure for making art. A notable exception is Bas Jan Ader’s I’m Too Sad to Tell You, a work that is so self-indulgently sad that it is ambiguous. His emotional outbursts must be set against the backdrop of an entire body of work that foregrounds failure’s redemptive qualities.
It is also useful to think about unhappiness as part of a Western tradition of cultural pessimism that has predicated the practice of art upon its power of negation, or refusal of a dominant system of values. These values may be in constant flux but what is preserved is the idea of what is an essentially antagonistic definition of cultural production. Art is unhappy because it is critical and expresses a sense of discontent with the ways things are, even as it constantly adapts itself to economic or social systems from which it is presumably excluded. The recognition of this contradiction is cause for more unhappiness.
This exhibition presents new and existing unhappy works by a diverse group of emerging, mid career, and established artists from Canada, the U.S., Colombia, and Holland. “Why I’m So Unhappy” is the title of a song by Jimmy Tamborello who records under the name of Dntel.
In conjunction with the Or Gallery’s ongoing exhibition “Why I’m So Unhappy,” the Music Appreciation Society presented: The Saddest Music in the World…Ever. (See event entry above).
January 21 - February 18, 2006
Conceptual art in Chile arose in direct response to a repressive political apparatus and sought to complicate dominant visual and semantic codes by producing works resistant to manipulation, censure, or the imposition of a transparent meaning. Such practices are then historically bound to a specific tradition of political resistance and concomitantly a localist paradigm that utilizes references not easily comprehensible to anything outside of its own hermetic system of meaning.
Juan Céspedes was perhaps the first artist of his generation to significantly break with the austere, dogmatic conceptualism of his mentors and his work, while highly respected in his hometown of Santiago, has repeatedly defied those rigid lines of influence and reference that create political rivalries out of distinct sets of ideologies or formal tendencies. Perhaps the only identifiably local aspect of his work is a reliance on slippery narratives and readings based on an extensive set of formal and conceptual elements that interact with one another in a constant dialectic that resists closure or complete readings.
The current exhibition consists of Céspedes’ most recent production and spans photography, video, painting, and low-fi constructions in a body of work uninterested in the autonomy of distinct media but rather obsessed with their limitations. One single channel video piece appears to record the falling of a drop of milk—an action that exceeds the technological capabilities of a video camera and is actually an animation constructed from still images, the gaps between them resembling dropped frames. Acrylic paintings seem to want to tamper with the idea of the distracted and short attention span of contemporary spectatorship while continuing to employ the saturated visual vocabulary of mass culture that is at once loaded with meaning and yet utterly flat given its global circulation. To the video games, Japanese animation and toys that inhabit previous work, he now adds an interest in fractal geometry and the repetitive, autistic, and almost erotic nature of extreme sports that mimics his own practice.
Geography is also present in this exhibition: the Santiago-Vancouver trajectory of geographical extremity is obvious and relevant. Many of the formal and conceptual references utilized by Céspedes are second-hand, downloaded off the internet and seem to make reference to the sort of belated and detached reception of cultural artifacts specific to peripheral sites: like the intervened photographs shot on a hill near the artist’s studio that so closely reproduce the Hollywood Hill backdrop of a publicity still for Ellie Parker. And yet, the manner in which information is disseminated on the web might make such geographical hierarchies increasingly irrelevant.