The visual-arts scene this fall season resembles a gorgeous, multihued, and multidisciplinary mosaic. Words and music, video and painting, photographs and assemblages, installation and performance carry us across time, place, peoples, and history. Lots of deconstruction and reconstruction are happening, too—not so much “out with the old and in with the new” as “Hmm, let’s take apart the old and make something novel and perhaps even illuminating with its components.”
Also exciting to anticipate are the openings of two leading-edge exhibition spaces, recently moved out of their old digs and settling into their new, architect-designed homes. The Pacific, the inaugural exhibition of international artists at the Libby Leshgold Gallery, examines the idea that the Pacific Ocean is a “shared space” with common interests around its perimeter. The gallery is located at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design campus on Great Northern Way, and the show opens to the public on October 2. Across Burrard Inlet, the exhibition titled N. Vancouver inaugurates the Polygon Gallery, formerly based at Presentation House. This ambitious group show of photo-based works poses questions about the gallery’s waterfront location, past and present. Its public opening is November 18.
In the meantime, look for…
At the Richmond Art Gallery to November 19
A joint project of the RAG and the Richmond Museum, this exhibition marries past, present, and future in creative ways. Guest curator Sunshine Frère invited five local artists—Barb Choit, Kevin Day, Lucien Durey, Alanna Ho, and Anchi Lin—to choose artifacts from the museum’s migration collection and develop works in dialogue with them. The results range from an audiovisual installation incorporating a school desk and chair to pop-culture-sampling mobiles constructed out of glass shards.
The Draw: Are material objects subject to eternal return, to the belief that the universe and everything in it have been and will be recurring forever? Who knows, but in our age of vast waste and overconsumption, the idea of cosmological recycling is an appealing one.
Emily Neufeld: Before Demolition
At Burrard Arts Foundation gallery from September 14 to October 21
Based on photographs taken in about-to-be-demolished houses, Neufeld’s architectural installation represents three years of work. She spent time in a number of doomed dwellings, performing certain kinds of physical interventions that she calls “funeral rites”—tearing up carpets, for instance, or cutting open walls—and recording the results with a camera. These images are reproduced life-size on BAF’s walls, amplifying their impact. Complementing the images are sculptures the artist created out of scavenged objects and materials.
The Draw: A number of leading Vancouver artists have taken photographs in the interior of abandoned buildings. What gives Neufeld’s work particular poignancy is the current housing crisis in the Lower Mainland and the inevitable disappearance of the single detached home (except where it exists as a lodging place for wealth and privilege).
Tania Willard: Dissimulation
At the Burnaby Art Gallery from September 15 to November 5
This exhibition features a range of works by the acclaimed young artist, curator, and cultural researcher Tania Willard, along with photograms on leather created in collaboration with Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Peter Morin, and Jeneen Frei Njootli. Willard’s woodcuts, screen prints, paintings, textile art, sculpture, and performances reflect on home, family, community, and language. They also examine her relationship to the land in Secwépemc territory, near Kamloops, where her BUSH Gallery is located. As her friend and colleague Tarah Hogue writes, Willard “interrupts the colonial desire to consume images of otherness and claims these images for herself and for her community”.
The Draw: There is great generosity in Willard’s practice, as reflected in her own art and that produced during the artists’ residencies she sponsors and collaborative projects of which she is a part.
Another Time, This Time, One Time: Steffani Jemison and Justin Hicks
At the Western Front from September 22 to October 28
The multimedia installation from Brooklyn-based artist Steffani Jemison and composer Justin Hicks takes apart and rearranges components of sound, language, and learning systems as they relate to contemporary Black American music. Audio, video, and drawn elements also represent a “power listening” project Jemison and Hicks undertook with community members in Brooklyn. The exhibition is inaugurated with live performances by the artists, the first at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 22, and the second at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 23.
The Draw: This is the first gallery iteration of Mikrokosmos, Jemison and Hicks’s ongoing collaborative project, as it traces the relationship between R & B music and other Black American cultural forms, most notably poetry.
Entangled: Two Views of Contemporary Canadian Painting
At the Vancouver Art Gallery from September 30 to January 1
With work by 31 artists from across the country, this big survey exhibition examines the way painting has developed in Canada since the 1970s. For those not alive or aware at the time, the 70s was when painting was declared dead—or at least moribund. The show’s curators contend that two distinct approaches to painting were birthed out of the debate about painting’s relevance, one driven by concepts and ideas and the other by materials and processes. The lineup—well, two lineups, actually—ranges from Arabella Campbell to Claude Tousignant, and from Paterson Ewen to Elizabeth McIntosh.
The Draw: At the heart of a city renowned internationally for its photo-based art, it will be interesting to consider the renewed power of painting to engage and provoke us.