Fall arts preview 2016 visual arts critics' picks: Hybrids emerge from spaces in between

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      This season, local and international artists explore hybridity or in-between-ness, whether cultural, geographical, or historical.

      Colonialism and postcolonialism, nationalism and globalization, the incessant cycle of new and obsolete technologies—all complicate the ways artists struggle with issues of representation. Artworks reinvent traditional genres through new media, or push the possibilities inherent in traditional materials.

      Ceramic artists, especially, shine this season, including Brendan Lee Satish Tang, whose engaging works fuse Ming Dynasty porcelain motifs with techno-pop forms (at Gallery Jones to October 1); Sally Michener and Tam Irving, whose two-person show demonstrates very different approaches to their medium (at the West Vancouver Museum to November 5); and Judy Chartrand, whose beautiful plates ironically comment on life in the Downtown Eastside and contemporary relations between indigenous and nonindigenous people (at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, October 20 to February 19).

      Sameer Farooq and Mirjam Linschooten's displays.

      Sameer Farooq and Mirjam Linschooten

      (In the windows of the Contemporary Art Gallery and at the Yaletown-Roundhouse Canada Line station to January 8)

      Dutch artist Linschooten and Canadian artist Farooq used their recent residency at the CAG’s Burrard Marina Field House as a launch point for a series of research and collecting expeditions across the Lower Mainland. Mimicking the strategies of anthropology museums, their temporary window displays and public artwork employ mass-produced goods, purchased in import shops, and found language, gleaned from local souvenir shops.

      The Draw: Long-time collaborators, Farooq and Linschooten have exhibited internationally, from Belgium and France to Egypt, Serbia, and China. Their work challenges us to think about the ways certain forms of scholarship have leaked into everyday buying and selling, perpetuating notions of difference and otherness.


      Keith Langergraber: Betrayal at Babylon

      (At the Burnaby Art Gallery to October 23)

      This complex installation relocates the biblical Tower of Babel to a ghost town and mine site in the Canadian West. Through an unexpected mix of media, including scraps of handwritten journal entries, drawings of fossils and maps, sculptural models of spiral train tunnels and dilapidated rigging systems, a short film about a gang of meteorite hunters, and a large, blown-glass “meteorite”, Langergraber examines the ways we construct myths and narrate environmental disasters, both human and natural.

      The Draw: Besides that glass meteorite? Visual art takes on—and disposes of—language as a reliable form of communication.


      Fiona Ackerman's The Past Is Prologue.

      Mimetic Workshop: Studio Still Lifes of Fiona Ackerman and Kelly Lycan

      (At the Surrey Art Gallery from September 17 to December 4)

      The subject of the artist’s studio is a vexed and intriguing one. Romanticized through the 19th and 20th centuries as the site of individual creative production, the studio in recent years has been increasingly replaced by “poststudio” practice, shifting the where, the how, and the who of art-making. In this exhibition, Ackerman creates paintings that juggle illusion and abstraction while depicting the studios of her peers, including Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and Jessica Eaton. Lycan makes assemblagelike sculptures in response to photos of famous modern artists, such as Constantin Brancusi and Louise Bourgeois, in their studios.

      The Draw: Even as the studio is deromanticized in our postmodern age, our curiosity about what occurs there remains lively, if not downright intense.


      Screens and Thresholds

      (At Presentation House Gallery from October 8 to December 4)

      Curated by VIVA Award–winning artist Raymond Boisjoly, this group exhibition of photography, video, and installation works questions the ways in which cultural knowledge may be visually depicted in an age of rapidly changing technologies and transforming cultural practices. Among the artists represented are Scott Benesiinaabandan, Tricia Livingston, Karthik Pandian, and the art collective Postcommodity.

      The Draw: Boisjoly is especially sensitive to the anxiety and uncertainty that attend the visual representation of our increasingly complex world.


      Cultural Conflation: Diyan Achjadi and Shawn Hunt

      (At the Richmond Art Gallery October 15 to December 31)

      Two gifted Vancouver artists examine the ways in which colonialism and globalization have brought about the altering, absorbing, and hybridizing of a wide range of cultural forms. Achjadi’s prints and collages draw patterns and motifs from medieval bestiaries, chinoi-serie, Javanese batik, and 18th- and 19th-century porcelain painting. Hunt’s sculptures meld Northwest Coast First Nations forms, such as masks, rattles, and spoons, with allusions to western art history.

      The Draw: The exhibition asks us to consider where influence and appropriation meet, in both historical and contemporary cultures and circumstances.



      (At grunt gallery from October 29 to December 10)

      The “call” was to support the work of indigenous women and artists through commissions of site-specific artworks that stimulate dialogue “across individuals, communities, territories, and institutions”. The “response” ranges from performative paintings, photographs, and videos to mask dancing and a reworking of a historical film. The exhibition will include material and documentary evidence of these provocative and heartfelt artworks.

      The Draw: Led by the curatorial team of Tarah Hogue, Maria Hupfield, and Tania Willard, the show will bring us a chorus of voices, from communities as distant as Iqaluit and the north shore of Lake Huron, and as close as Vancouver and Secwepemc Territory in central British Columbia.


      Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures

      (At the Vancouver Art Gallery from December 3)

      Inaugurating a new program of triennial exhibitions, this big and ambitious show will survey the latest of contemporary-art practices in our city. Although the full list of the 40 participating artists has yet to be released, expect an eclectic and expansive range of media, from textile art to audio installation and from painting to animation.

      The Draw: Curated by the VAG’s Daina Augaitis and Jesse McKee of the 221A artist-run centre, the show promises a reimagining of place and identity in response to our rapidly shifting local and global environment.