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Althea Thauberger

Althea Thauberger is an artist based in Vancouver. Her internationally produced and exhibited work typically involves collaboration with a group or community that result in performances, films, videos, audio recordings, and books. Thauberger gravitates towards social enclaves—groups of people who exist or develop in some form of seclusion and are often perpetuated by social controls—that are both coercive and voluntary. Her work provides constraints for her subjects to work within which may echo the ones they live within. These may be structural imperatives or conventions of particular film or photographic media, allegory, seriality, or other containers. Thauberger’s performances have involved diverse groups including young Canadian female singer/songwriters, U.S. military wives, Canadian tree planters, Vancouver-based reserve soldiers, and male youth in the German civil service. These amateur performers express concepts of self-definition, alienation, and community through their stories.

Thauberger’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work has been presented at Manifesta 7, Trento, Itlay; the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver, 2008; Vancouver Art Gallery, 2008; BAK, Utrecht, 2007; Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 2006; Kunstverein Wolfsburg, 2006; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, 2006; Singapore History Museum, 2006; Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver, 2005; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp, 2005; Berkeley Art Museum, 2005; Insite, San Diego/Tijuana, 2005; White Columns, New York, 2004; and Seattle Art Museum, 2004. In 2008 she will be traveling to the Canadian Forces Base in Kandahar, Afghanistan to work on a collaborative photograph with military members there. She has upcoming projects with BAK, basis voor aktuele kunst, Utrecht, Netherlands, the Gaungzhou Triennial, China and Artspeak in Vancouver.

Exhibitions

  • No Show

    MELVIN MOTI
    September 8–October 13, 2007

    Melvin’s Moti’s film practice finds a focus in the reconstructions of memories, whether reenacting the perambulating descriptions of surrealist sleep experiments or narrating the content and emotion of absent pictures. Moti’s 2004 No Show is a 24-minute film based on a guided tour given at the Hermitage Museum during the Second World War. Until 1944, the museum removed its collection of paintings and other artworks for safe-keeping, and its galleries were bare save for empty frames hanging on the walls. In 1943 a guide showed a group of soldiers through the vacant rooms, describing from memory the paintings in the Hermitage’s collection including works by Rembrandt and Fra Angelico. Moti presents this historic tour aurally, while the camera is trained on an empty gallery, a backdrop for the imagined works. Speaking to both individual and collective memory, particularly in the face of chaos and adversity, Moti’s film is a beautiful, spare work that evokes a complex subjective response. The film is accompanied by a small artist book of the same name that provides further research insights into the reconstructed event.

    This exhibition has specifically been supported by the Vancouver Foundation and the Ramada Downtown Vancouver.

    Postscript 31: Althea Thauberger on No Show (PDF)

  • Songstress

    ALTHEA THAUBERGER
    October 19–November 23, 2002

    Female Victoria filmmaker seeks female singer/songwriters ages approximately 17–25 to be featured in art film. No experience necessary.

    From this ad placed in a Victoria entertainment weekly, Althea Thauberger auditioned many young women performing original compositions. A group of eight were then recorded individually in a professional recording studio setting and later filmed on 16mm, lip-synching, at a variety of ‘natural’ settings in and around Victoria. The locations in some way epitomize romanticized west-coast motifs, and the lush glade, the rugged clifftop and the bountiful garden assert themselves as characters in the piece. The series of performances are screened on digital video, in a looped sequence.

    Songstress combines references to the screen test and music video and grafts them to the long history of conflating the feminine with nature. The overdetermined form of the folk ballad and the high production values of the work are at odds with one another and with the extremely personal and emotive expression of the young songwriters. The struggle evident in the performances is echoed in the ambiguity of the viewer; both caught between the authenticity of emotional turmoil and the more comfortable and familiar simulations and cliches of pop culture forms.

    Postscript 04: Donato Mancini on Songstress (PDF)

Talks & Events

  • Carrall Street Publication and Edition Launch

    ALTHEA THAUBERGER
    September 30, 2009

    Join us for the launch of Althea Thauberger’s catalogue in conjunction with her Artspeak event Carrall Street.

  • Carrall Street Public Forum

    ALTHEA THAUBERGER
    October 2, 2008

    This public forum will provide an opportunity for further community engagement and critical discussion around the social, political and artistic questions raised by Althea Thauberger’s Carrall Street. An open conversation will be initiated by a diverse body of speakers that include local architect and activist Annabel Vaughan, founding Simon Fraser University faculty member and writer Jerry Zaslove and Miami based writer and curator Ruba Katrib.

    Join us for this compelling discussion at 7pm on Thursday, October 2nd at 33 West Cordova, Vancouver.

  • Carrall Street

    ALTHEA THAUBERGER
    September 30, 2008

    Althea Thauberger, <em>Carrall Street</em>

    Althea Thauberger, <em>Carrall Street</em>

    Althea Thauberger, <em>Carrall Street</em>

    Althea Thauberger, <em>Carrall Street</em>

    Althea Thauberger, <em>Carrall Street</em>

    8-11pm in the 200 block of Carrall Street

    Althea Thauberger’s site-specific performance work will take place on the 200 block of Carrall Street in front of Artspeak. Collaborating with diverse local communities in Artspeak’s neighbourhood of the Downtown Eastside/Gastown, the one-night performance will present the street (brightly lit like a film set at nighttime) as a stage where the roles of participant and spectator blur. The interweaving of organized performers, passersby and audience members will allow for unforeseen interactions to take place, resulting in a destabilized form of community theatre that reveals something of the street’s history, its current successes and stresses, as well as its future.

  • << Rewind

    CANDIE TANAKA, ALTHEA THAUBERGER, KATHY SLADE
    December 14, 2002

    Artspeak Gallery is pleased to present << Rewind: a launching event of two new audio releases. Please join us for mid-afternoon cocktails, some CD listening stations and general holiday cheer.

    1. Candie Tanaka – “No sound is dissonant which tells of life” – CD Bookwork

    In this audio project, Candie Tanaka has layered, manipulated and digitally edited ‘real world’ sounds from an urban environment into discrete soundtracks. These soundtracks are then inserted as unexplained artworks into the voice messaging systems of individuals and a range of cultural institutions. The CD contains both the out-going recorded message of the recipients and the soundtrack messages left behind. Bookwork graphics: Jen Eby.

    2. Althea Thauberger – Songstress / Kathy Slade – Songs for Girls – CD Bookwork

    The CD contains the soundtrack from the exhibition Songstress by Althea Thauberger; the bookwork features portraits of the singer/songwriters and their handwritten lyric sheets. Kathy Slade’s text, Songs for Girls, critically investigates the trope of the west-coast chanteuse and the conflation of femininity and ‘nature’.

Publications

  • Carrall Street

    Carrall front
    Carrall spine
    Carrall back

    Title: Carrall Street
    Category: Artist Book
    Artist: Althea Thauberger
    Writers: Jerry Zaslove, Rob Brownie & Annabel Vaughan, Jonathan Young & Kim Collier, Lani Russwurm, Ruba Katrib, Kate Fowle
    Editor: Melanie O’Brian
    Design: Hodgkinson Design
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Printer: Generation Printers, Canada
    Year published: 2009
    Pages: 50pp
    Cover: Paperback
    Binding: Perfect Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: 87 colour images; 18 b&w images
    Dimensions: 26 x 18 x 1 cm
    Weight: 273 g
    ISBN: 978-0-921394-62-4
    Price: $7 CDN

    The Carrall Street publication documents Althea Thauberger’s site-specific work that took place on the 200-block of Carrall Street in front of Artspeak on September 30, 2008. It considered the specificities of the site as a nexus of social, economic, political, and cultural realities. The block was closed to traffic and illuminated by film lights. Collaborating with local communities, individuals, and organizations, Thauberger invited a diverse group to undertake independent actions or activities within the event’s framework.

    Approximately forty performers worked across and through the delineation provided by the block, extending their activities into alleys and bars. The performances ranged from repeated physical actions, oratories, orchestrated conversations, and scripted performances that often occurred at an intimate scale, to reflected or framed quotidian situations. Because the event encompassed the entire block, the work took on an expanded subject matter that included the attitudes and activities of spectators and passersby, heightened aesthetics and conditions of representation, the street’s physical surroundings and architecture, and transitional moments in the street’s development.

    The publication includes commissioned texts, scripts, a partial transcription of the Carrall Street forum, archival documents, and images.

  • Retrospect

    Retro backRetro spineRetro front

    Title: Retrospect
    Category: Exhibition Catalogue
    Artists: Melvin Moti, Kerry Tribe, Don Coltman, Kristan Horton, Jack Lindsay, Taras Polataiko
    Writers: Melvin Moti, Susan Sontag, Juan A. Gaitán, Kathleen Ritter, Colin Browne, Althea Thauberger
    Editor: Melanie O’Brian
    Design: Courtenay Webber, The Future
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Printer: Hemlock Printers, Vancouver
    Year published: 2008
    Pages: 122pp
    Cover: Paperback
    Binding: Perfect Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: 9 colour images, 3 b&w images
    Dimensions: 18 x 11.5 x 1.2 cm
    Weight: 148 g
    ISBN: 978-0-921394-59-4
    Price: $6 CDN

    Retrospect is an examination of the role of memory and imagination in the consideration of disaster. Memory, like history, is subjective and unfixed; the records of both are dynamically unstable, constantly shifting and informed by the present. Imagination—in this case the imagination of disaster—reflects anxiety and unsettles the present. In its representation, disaster is imagined both retrospectively and prospectively, as a memory and as a fear. However, it has been argued that imagining future catastrophes is impossible in that we can only circle back to what is known; we model these cataclysms on what has already occurred. In this way, disaster is always represented in hindsight, even in the sci-fi realms of the future.

    Retrospect brings together visual reproductions of the work in three Artspeak exhibitions held in 2007, two new texts by artist Melvin Moti and art historian/curator Juan A. Gaitán, as well as a reprinted Susan Sontag essay to address the themes of memory, reenactment and disaster. The images are from exhibitions of work by Melvin Moti, Kerry Tribe, and On the Beach (Don Coltman, Kristan Horton, Jack Lindsay and Taras Polataiko). The publication also includes reprinted Postscript texts for the above exhibitions. Postscript authors are Colin Browne, Kathleen Ritter and Althea Thauberger.

     

  • Songstress

    songstress front
    songstress spine
    songstress back

    Title: Songstress
    Category: Exhibition Catalogue
    Artist: Althea Thauberger
    Writers: Kathy Slade, Althea Thauberger
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Year published: 2002
    Cover: Paperback
    Binding: Staple Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: Audio CD, 10 colour images
    Dimensions: 14 x 13 x 0.8 cm
    Weight: 65 g
    Price: $4 CDN

    Female Victoria filmmaker seeks female singer/songwriters ages approximately 17 – 25 to be featured in art film. No experience necessary.

    From this ad placed in a Victoria entertainment weekly, Thauberger auditioned young women performing original compositions. A group of eight were recorded individually in a professional recording studio setting and later filmed on 16mm, lip-synching, at a variety of ‘natural’ settings in and around Victoria. The locations in some way epitomize romanticized west-coast motifs, and the lush glade, the rugged clifftop and the bountiful garden assert themselves as characters in the piece. The series of performances were screened at Artspeak on digital video in a looped sequence.

    The CD contains the soundtrack from the exhibition Songstress by Althea Thauberger. The bookwork features portraits of the singer/songwriters and their handwritten lyric sheets. Kathy Slade’s text, “Songs for Girls,” critically investigates the trope of the west-coast chanteuse and the conflation of femininity and ‘nature’.