SWARM Festival invites Vancouverites to explore the city's independent art galleries

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      With impressive spaces like the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Museum of Anthropology, and the Museum of Vancouver, there's no shortage of options for taking in art in Vancouver—but the city's smaller, independent galleries can sometimes be overlooked.

      These small but mighty spaces will be celebrated next Thursday (September 7) and Friday (September 8) with the 18th annual SWARM festival. SWARM encourages guests to gallery hop between the city’s artist run centres as they kick off their programming season. This year’s festival of free events includes 14 openings and events ranging from visual art displays, curated 16mm films, artist talks, and a DJed after party.

      Thursday will see the grunt gallery open “Technical Problem,” an exhibit by Aileen Bahmanipour, featuring visual works employing Persian miniature painting techniques to interpret mythical, personal, and political narratives from the artist’s home country of Iran. Malaspina Printmakers is also opening an exhibit of interactive installation works by Denise St. Marie and Timothy Walker. Titled “It’s not what you see—it’s how you see it,” the series asks viewers to question established social systems.

      On Friday night, the Access Gallery open its presentation on the “Twenty-three Days at Sea” residency. Artists applied to create new creative projects while staying on a ship for 23 days. Gallery Gatchet will have a special 10th anniversary opening for the Oppenheimer Park Community Art Show, where past and current artists will reflect on their experience with the show. The Gam Gallery will feature “Rest in Power” by local artist Sandeep Johal, featuring drawings of 12 women whose murders have impacted the artist. The Or Gallery is presenting “Flowers for Africa” by Kapwani Kiwanga, an exhibit that showcases the various symbolic flowers that were present during foundational moments of independence for African nations.

      The Friday programming also includes a curated screening of 16mm films at Cineworks and an after party at 21 East Pender Street, hosted by LIVE Biennale. The evening will feature DJs Ian Prentice and duo Doug and Suzee, as well as video footage from the last 10 years of LIVE Biennale, presented by Sammy Chien and Ash Tanaslychuk.

      SWARM is presented by the Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres, an organization representing B.C.’s artist-run centres and galleries, with a mandate to empower independent artists to benefit of working with self-determination. 

      The full list of participating galleries and events can be found here.