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Artspeak,

Artspeak

Susan Edelstein

Director/Curator of Artspeak
1995-1999.

Exhibitions

  • rapture : rupture

    LAIWAN, SAM SHEM
    December 11–January 29, 2000

    This exhibition is a culmination of a collaborative process between Laiwan, an established interdisciplinary artist and writer, and Sam Shem, an emerging artist working in installation. Taking the form of on-going discussions and shared readings over the past year this collaboration has informed their respective new works.

    Sam Shem’s work will be installed in the gallery space. This new installation work uses small circular mirrors, painted walls, lighting and bubbles produced by a bubble machine: ephemeral materials that are contingent upon the bodies of viewers to craft the experience and atmosphere of the work as they move through it, while reflections appear and disappear, bubbles fall and break. The work draws attention to its own impermanence and the transitory nature of experience through the immediacy and indeterminate approach to materials and space.

    Laiwan’s new text work will be presented in the publication centre and will take two forms: an ‘installed’ poetic text will be present when the exhibition opens and a theoretical text which will be added for the final half of the exhibition period.

  • Cop Puppet

    CLINT BURNHAM, MARK LABA
    October 23–November 20, 1999

    ‘Clint Burnham and Mark Laba are Vancouver artists whose practice includes cutting open, stuffing, and sewing up toy animals in the context of political allegory.’

    As part of the city-wide performance festival Live at the End of the Century Artspeak is pleased to present a performance and installation by Clint Burnham and Mark Laba. Cop Puppet will begin with an opening night performance in the gallery, in which puppets stand in for local political figures and ‘spokespersons’. The performance props—surgically altered stuffed animal toys, freezers, obselete televisions and other ‘millennial signs’ found in thrift shops—will remain installed throughout the exhibition period along with pulp fiction paperbacks, and production stills from their video. The tape features Laba, the ‘Top Jewish Cop’ taking down Burnham in a basement suite drug bust using only accelerated invective and a set of hair clippers.

    Their Collaborative Crime Puppet Shows have included ‘Casey and Finnegan’s Drug Deal Goes Bad’ at LaQuena in 1997 and the ‘Molson Indy Princess Di Memorial Landmine & Syringe Race’ for Kootenay School of Writing in 1998. Real crime shows, kids’ programming, the local news and CNN overlap and merge in a hyped delivery of text and image.

    In addition to their performance work, Burnham and Laba are well known for their diverse range of writing practices. Laba’s Mack Bolen Poems was awarded the bpNichol chapbook award in 1996 and his food writing, such as ‘Who’s Who at Hooters’ have been published in CityFood Magazine. Burnham has been a frequent contributor to Boo Magazine and his most recent book is Airborne Photo, a collection of short stories.

    Copies of the screenplay will be available in the gallery.

  • inc

    LIZA VISAGIE
    September 11–October 16, 1999

    Deserts are transitory landscapes—sand shifts, drifts, and migrates. Take a photograph of such a non-place, crop out the horizon and mirror it horizontally—an evelope of an impossible space is fabricated; no up, no down, no ground.

    Visagie’s new work is a series of constructed landscapes, contrived by fixing images of spectacular Southern African desert scenes at right angles to mirrors and placing miniscule scale model figures upon the reflective surface. These tiny dioramas are then rephotographed and enlarged. Architectural ‘dolls’ are used within model-making as a scale reference; as representations of the body they are held in a mutually defining relation to the model space. In inc, the figures and their ‘doubles’ interrupt the perfect seam where image meets its relection to create yet another disturbing and unsettling placelessness.

    “Visagie’s mirrored escapes and their doubled figures pose these following problems: whiteness, or the specificity of the body as represented, disappears into the doubled toys, the doulbed architects’s dolls; then their place on the crack in the mirror, on the seam or edge of the mirror to itself, demands the viewer’s demand, the viewer who, looking at the image, says, just, just photoshop that up a bit, fix it, place the figures where they should be (perhaps more centred? or less de-centred); the dolls fuck the mirror so we want to un-fuck it, make the landscapse regular, less of a threat, less of a surface and more of a race.”
    —Clint Burnham

  • Happy Friday Night

    KARIN BUBAS
    July 3–July 31, 1999

    In Happy Friday Night, Karin Bubas’ photographic depiction of a recent trip to Japan investigates the neglected sites of a city. Whether you have been to Japan or not, most everyone is aware that this site is teeming with people and adheres to strict behavioural protocol. Bubas’ carefully chosen subject matter is the common site; the place that is usually passed over without remark. As in her previous work, her images consitently remain devoid of people; empty, yet charged. The viewer enters into her world, becoming the voyeur, filling in the blanks of what must have been or what might occur

    An under ground subway station, a street sign, a food cooler, the unkempt bedroom of a twenty-something “girl” are all her subjects. The titles of the works, Two Chairs and an Ashtray, Green Trees, Cloud Lockers and Plastic Food Menu are equally banal, becoming the signifiers that encode the images and echo the sociological reading of the work. Viewed in the context of this exhibition, Bubas’ photographs are far from being commonplace.
    —Susan Edelstein

  • Soft Architecture: A Manifesto

    JOSÉE BERNARD, SHARYN YUEN, LISA ROBERTSON
    March 27–May 8, 1999

    Memory’s architecture is neither palatial nor theatrical but soft. — Lisa Robertson

    The project Soft Architecture: A Manifesto was realized through the collaborative efforts of Artspeak Gallery and Dazibao Gallery in Montréal, bringing together the work of artists Josée Bernard and Sharyn Yuen with writer/poet Lisa Robertson. Despite cultural difference and geographical distance, all three artists have used childhood and the notion of memory to discuss the discomforts of displacement. The intention of this project was to provoke ideas and forge links between different practices that would extend the parameters of both photography and writing. Inspired by a child’s quilt found in the house in which she grew up, Josée Bernard uses images and themes from Après les étoiles filantes that explore perceptions of comfort and the passing of time. The installation is meant as a symbol of fecundity and equilibrium in which memory and labour are juxtaposed. In Once Here, Sharyn Yuen addresses issues of displacement and dislocation. The departure point for this installation was inspired by stories of young Chinese girls sold overseas in the early 1900’s. Handmade shoes and images of childhood games become visual metaphors for vulnerability and innocence.

    A bilingual publication with prose by Lisa Robertson accompanies the exhibition.

  • Negotiating Desire

    HADLEY HOWES, MAXWELL STEPHENS
    February 6–March 20, 1999

    A collaboration is an effective space to explore the movement of desire. We are searching for an understanding of the flow, the stoppage and slippage of desire in an autopoetic system. This searching becomes our process and the work itself, a serious play of possibilities.

    We are exploring the boundaries of the contract between lovers (and between strangers) which designates the limitations of penetration and acceptance.

    “Now we turn on the lights, and lean over to see the work born. Then, surprise before what, passing through us, was drawn; and if it is I who drew this unknown child then who are I?” (Helene Cixous, “Without End”)

    —Hadley Howes and Maxwell Stephens, 1998



    Organs say touch me

    I will touch you

    rubber says fondle

    says skin

    layers those layers of every memory

    of fetish

    that play

    that I will do

    so you can be.

    —Sarah Wakefield, 1998

  • PaintinggnitniaP

    CHARLES REA
    December 11–January 30, 1999

    PaintinggnitniaP features an installation of new work by Vancouver artist Charles Rea, exploring the social and psychological implications of different institutional interiors. The mirroring and optical aspects in his paintings recall binary systems of vision and perception and the psychological uses of Rorschach images (mirrored ink blots). The institutional interiors he represents are perspectival and suggest spaces of science, knowledge and capitalism. These spaces include, amongst others, hospitals, libraries, schools and banks; spaces traditionally built, controlled and occupied by men. Although, the architectural spaces Rea represents are absent of people, they allude to the presence of a male body.

    PaintinggnitniaP is the last in a series of three exhibitions dealing with architectural space and the body. The work in these solo exhibitions explore domestic and institutional space, revealing aspects of social organization and control found within these genedered systems. A publication discussing the work in this series, with essays by Lucy Hogg and Sharla Sava, will be released on the opening night of this exhibition.

  • Felt Histories

    THECLA SCHIPHORST
    October 24–December 5, 1998

    Felt Histories features a computer interactive sound and video installation by Thecla Schiphorst. The proximity and touch of the viewer directs the interaction of the piece, disturbing the viewer/object relationship that is traditionally experienced in a gallery space. The site of interaction is a door frame, situated at the far end of the gallery. Within the frame, the image of a mature woman waits silently, her back to the gallery visitor. The silence in the room is echoed in the stillness of the image, and can be broken only through the visitor’s interaction at the threshold of the door frame. The door frame serves as an architectural device and reference by which our bodies are measured and contained, while the proximity and touch sensitive surface operates as a boundary and portal between public and private spaces. Schiphorst employs new technologies and architectural devices to critique ideas of embodiment and to examine spaces which have been historically determined as private and feminine.

    Felt Histories is the second in a series of three exhibitions dealing with architectural space and the body. Using computer-based technology and representations of the body, the works in these solo exhibitions will explore domestic and institutional space, revealing aspects of social organization and control found within these gendered systems. A publication discussing these works will be released in December 1998, with essays by Lucy Hogg and Sharla Sava.

  • Built To Code

    KATI CAMPBELL, LAIWAN, RUTH SCHEUING
    June 19–July 31, 1998

    Customized Island (three motile versions towards a train-of-thought, including a prototype for utopian upholstery)

    (We are only as crafty as the secrets we keep.)

    I think Proust would be amused at the idea that your own work should seem like an interesting game about other people, rather than something terrifyingly banal about the self.

    Nature hides: Heraclitus said it 2700 years ago (it was an oral culture then). You have to have a sense of humour if you’re going to go after the unconscious. Now we might add that it is also nomadic, it takes its baggage with it, plus it squirrels away things in different places, it makes memory devices of the visceral, it has its own time clock and keeps its own anniversaries, itâs capable of endless displacement, and it practically invented economics.

    The Titans are the prime residents of the unconscious, whose forms have nothing resolute about them, so that there is constant drama in trying to distinguish these figures from the ground they’re made of. (We tend to think of the relation between figure and ground in adversarial terms, of the ground as something against which we see figures. Tsk, tsk, say the Titans. A tisket, a tasket.)

    —Kati Campbell, 1998

    Thanks to: Susan Edelstein, Warren Murfitt, Robert McNealy, and Irma McInnis.

    REMOTELY IN TOUCH explores images created by remote digital signals sent via satellite or robotic camera found on the internet or from other sources. I have chosen this process of imaging as a framework for my curiosity into how digital visualization, and its attendant technologies, alter our codes of signification. By this I include questions of how these digitized, visualized and informational processes alter the way we perceive the world, the way we perceive ourselves and the act of perception in general. Within perception we learn to move in the world. Perception and movement evolve in a symbiotic interplay, where skills are gained and skills are lost, many times without our choice or knowledge.

    Juxtaposed with these digital images are analog video images that encapsulate a “visceral moment” or an “embodied movement”. By contrasting the binary of digital/information and analog/body,

    I intend to challenge my investigation to raise issues of what is ‘real’? what is ‘body’? how is ‘representation’ inadequate? what is constructed or ‘science fiction’? what are the implications of “pattern” over “presence”, “randomness” over “absence” within information systems.

    I have included images of my blood cells ‘captured’ by an electronic microscope; NASA’s Pathfinder mission to Mars; ultrasound imaging; an underwater volcano; exploratory surgery using a robotic camera; wing chun martial arts, the Human Genome Project and satellite imagery of the earth’s surface. The audio also continues my exploration within digital, musical and narrative possibilities.

    The process of making this first videowork has shown me the strengths and weaknesses of the medium. By choosing images sent by satellite or robotic camera, particularly those from the internet, I found myself embracing the low-resolution, highly pixelated quality of the digital and of video media in general. During this installation study, for the purpose of particularly focusing on issues concerning ‘duration’ and ‘real time’, these analog, magnetic tapes will not be replaced as they degrade with drop-out caused from repeated over play. Thus, near the end of this exhibition, the images on these video loops may possibly not be as clear nor as recognizable as during opening night. The tapes will only be replaced if they break or get tangled in the machine.

    For more notes on REMOTELY IN TOUCH please ask for the folder in the office.

    —Laiwan, 1998

    Thanks to: Wendy Oberlander Susan Edelstein E. Centime Zeleke Jennifer Abbott Warren Arcan Michelle Frey Winston Xin John Fukushima Steve Chow Louie Ettling Chris Welsby Donna Zapf Ellie Epp Roberto Ruiz and the world wide web SFU, School for Contemporary Arts Artspeak Gallery Grunt Gallery Semperviva (blood imaging) my family Video In the Canada Council for past and present BC Arts Council support and resources.

    “The analytical engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.” (A. A. L. (Ada Lovelace))

    This quote initiated my interest in the connection between Jacquard weaving and the beginnings of the computer in the mid 19th century. It also provided an excellent forum for reinvesting patterning, composed of flowers and leaves with new meaning, interwoven between language, imagery and pattern.

    Ada Lovelace/Byron was educated in mathematics and collaborated with Charles Babbage, who invented the Analytical Engine in 1843. Ada translated a text about the Analytical Engine by Manabrea and her notes took up more space than the original text. This engine never really worked, but it contained the operating principles of the computer. The process was derived from the Jacquard loom which uses punched cards to store and process information. The Jacquard loom was developed to produce elaborately patterned weavings with representational imagery, based on fabrics brought back to Europe from Asia during the 18th century.

    Donna Haraway’s notion of the ‘Cyborg’ bridges opposites against a simplistic reading of divisions between nature/culture and many other categories. By embracing seemingly contradictory concepts, possiblities open up for new dialogues in well established territories, in this case computer technology, the hand-made, domestic and functional design, women’s work etc. Lastly, weaving often uses complex equipment and requires an efficiency of movements, which causes the weaver to become an integrated part of the process and blurring the boundaries between human and machine—a Cyborg is born.

    “We are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short we are cyborg”. “The cyborg is a condensed image of both imagination and material reality, the two joined centers structuring any possible historical transformation”. “This is an argument for pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and for responsibility in their construction”. “Nature and culture are reworked; the one can no longer be the resource for appropriation or incorporation by the other”. “The cyborg would not recognize the garden of Eden: it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust”. “Cyborg are not reverent; they do not remember the cosmos”. “The main trouble with Cyborgs, of course, is that they are the illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism, not to mention state socialism. But illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers, after all, are inessential”. “The cyborg myth subverts myriad organic wholes, in short, the certainty of what counts as nature—as a source of insight and promise of innocence—is undermined, probably fatally”. “Cyborgs are floating signifiers moving in pick up trucks across Europe”. (Donna Haraway from ‘Cyborg Manifesto’)

    I have long been interested in myths about weavings of the past and the future. Ada died of cancer at 32 and was ill most of her life, she might enjoy her new seat and virtual life in order to take the tradition of the Fates into the future and create a new mythology composed of cyborgs, weavers and computers.

    Cyborg women weave translucent thought into sturdy cloth and with Arachne still defy the gods. The Fates still weave with Ada’s help on ancient looms and computers. Nature weaves a digital dream into the text and Philomela has her own web page now.

    —Ruth Scheuing, 1998

    Thanks to: Susan Edelstein for her interest in pushing these ideas forward; to Marianne Danylchuck for her professional upholstery of the chair; to Louise Bérubé at the Centre des Métiers d’Art en Construction Textile in Montréal for help with computer and the Jacquard loom and to the Canada Council for Financial Support.

    Sources: Sadie Plant in ‘Clicking-In’ and ‘Zeros and Ones'; Donna Haraway in ‘Cyborg Manifesto’

    Titles: Flowers and Leaves #1: Ada: Enchantress of Numbers – Queen of the Engines upholstered chair with computer assisted handwoven Jacquard cotton fabric,

    Flowers and Leaves #2: Cyborg women weave translucent thought…. computer assisted handwoven Jacquard cotton fabric

    Flowers and leaves #3: The Fates still weave…. computer assisted handwoven Jacquard cotton fabric

    Web links: Ada Lovelace Site listing several webpages on Ada Lovelace: http://www.cs.yale.edu/homes/tap/ada-lovelace.html

    Ruth’s web page entitled: ‘to weave a virtual web: textiles as metaphor’ http://www.capcollege.bc.ca/dept/textile/ (creates a context for Ada, the Fates and Philolema and etc. mentioned in my text)

  • Amazon

    CAROL SAWYER
    May 2–June 6, 1998

    This playful multi-media installation, reflects Carol Sawyer’s continuing investigation of female characters found in literature, popular culture and opera. Amazon is a photographic installation inspired by the evil femme fatales of 60’s and 70’s mythic fantasy movies. In Sawyer’s exhibition the Amazon serves as a humourous and critical model of bitchy autonomy and self-assertion; it is an identity or fiction that enables women to transcend expected roles of femininity. With its overlapping texts of gender, sexuality and power, the Amazon pushes beyond the limits of mortal and terrestrial boundaries.

  • You And I

    GU XIONG
    March 21–April 25, 1998

    Gu Xiong’s multi-media installation You and I continues to address the conflicts he has experienced between the culture he was born into in China and the culture he now lives in, in Canada. His work is both personal and political in its exploration of the fragmentation which occurs between the self and the family as a result of displacement. In this particular work he uses the colour red, plaster cast salmons and socks to examine the complexity of displaced identities and migration. These elements hold historical, cultural and personal significance for the artist and his family as immigrants in a new culture. Gu Xiong’s new work explores the process of displacement through a metaphorical and philosophical installation with symbolic references to waters and rivers. This installation is part of a larger city-wide exhibition entitled Jiang Nan: Modern and Contemporary Art from South of the Yangtze River.

    Artist Statement: The Yangzi River flows out of the mountains of the Qinghai Plateau, rushing through valleys and plains, coalescing with the vast Pacific Ocean. A river dashes out of the cosmic order of ancient Chinese philosophy. The red wall of the gallery, though embodying multiple connotations, reminds one of lifeblood and magnifies the immeasurable energy in the cosmos, whose outpouring rhythm and impulse create life and enliven the earth. White socks and plaster casts of salmon are suspended from the ceiling of the gallery to further discharge senses of flux, circulation, and voyage.

    Rivers ÷ like the Indus, the Tigris, the Euphrates, the Yellow River, the Yangzi, the Amazon ÷ are the seeds and life sources of human civilizations. Perhaps that’s why rivers have special meanings for the artist Gu Xiong. As an immigrant, Gu’s life is like a river full with the torrents of anguish, trial, and rapture. The struggle has been so vividly documented in the images of his previous works ÷ the bicycles crushed on Tiananmen Square, the cafeteria, the garbage bag, the basement, and the yellow pear tree. From the Yangzi River to the Fraser Valley, Gu Xiong has found, in rivers, an enduring source of energy. An immigrant artist unfolds like a river in its eternal labour for regeneration. But where is he to anchor in the infinite course of border-crossing? What is the constant in the eternal motion of the universe and human existence?

    The installation, You and I, focuses on the “river culture” of Jiangnan, China, the region located on the south side of the Yangzi River before it reaches the sea. Noted for its significance in both historical and contemporary times, the region offers plenty of cultural splendour for celebration. Yet Gu does not intend to extol the cultural glory, nor to expose the despotism, decadence, and excess in the history. No longer culturally coherent and pure, Gu speaks in You and I of cultural transgression carried out by the immigrant artist: the meeting of the Yangzi River and the Fraser River bridged by the Pacific Ocean, and the intermesh of two different cultural geologies through the artist’s migration. The rich symbolism embodied in socks and salmon discerns a journey which is both existential and spiritual. It accentuates a dialectical model of travelling between global and local geocultural currents and, more, carving out an interstitial space.

    You and I is then profoundly philosophical. Both its succinct visual speech and philosophical underpinnings issue a rejection of the excessive appetite for materialistic expansion at the age of late capitalism and an unyielding assertion of the spiritual aspect of human existence. The assertion is grounded as much in the artist’s life journey as in ancient Eastern philosophies, which comparative philosophers have noted is essentially postmodern. Stylistically, the work visualizes the fundamentals of the philosophies. As the artist recalls, the process in which this work came into being can be summed up in a single word: reduction. The fundamentals of Zen Buddhism and Buddhist art have eventually come to prevail. The abundance in Nothingness. The polyphony in Simplicity. Less is More. Gu Xiong, as we’ve heard from his previous articulations, has always closely engaged himself in the materiality of immigrant life. Now, in the spiritual realm, the artist has found a way of extending his current practice.

    —Xiaoping Li, 1998
    You and I

    You are born in a small stream

    You grow up in the river

    And you gather strength in the ocean

    When you return

    You become red

    And give birth to your children

    Finally you lay on the bottom of the stream

    Waiting until next spring comes

    You watch as those red eggs

    Turn into baby salmon

    A smile appears on your face

    The tide that takes your newborn salmon

    To the river and then the ocean

    I see you in the small stream

    I see you in the river

    I see you in the ocean

    I see you everywhere

    I follow you

    I become you

    —Gu Xiong, 1998

  • Particles

    PHILLIPE RAPHANEL
    February 7–March 14, 1998

    In previous work, Vancouver-based artist Philippe Raphanel explored the poisonous and medicinal properties of plants and their use in experiments to find a cure for illnesses, such as the HIV virus. In his recent exhibition Particles, he similarly draws from the Canadian West Coast, its landscapes and its indigenous flora and fauna to construct a suggestively interior landscape. This particular installation consisted of two large, multi-paneled paintings, one with a light background and the other dark, which were positioned opposite each other in the gallery. These formal devices were integral to the installation aspect of the work and to the conceptual exploration of the cultural construction of binaries. In Particles, Raphanel offers a complicated and troubled look at nature and the natural which is informed by a subtext of the human body. Through aesthetics and allusions, Raphanel presents an abstract microcosm of the beautiful and the abject, blurring the use of nature and the body as sites of cultural inscription. Canadian writer/poet Peter Culley presented a reading of his work in conjunction with this exhibition.

    FRUIT DOTS
    PETER CULLEY

    2000

    in May. As it unfolds

    spores are discharged.

    Tuft of rust wool

    above the fruiting pinae,

    shallow vase formed, flood

    the woods with golden light.

    Other osmundas, absence of the

    fertile fronds. Erect,

    curving outward,

    oblong – lanceolate; obtuse divisions

    taller than the sterile

    entire or toothed.

    Of the midrib, indusium delicate— —

    little fronds, ecstatic presence

    of the deeper woods.

    Arched across the rock – broken

    stream, carpeted with low;

    where precious red – cupped mosses

    stretch basswood overhead

    cliff which forms.

    Early meadow rue- —

    lobed and rounded leaflet

    crowds to the roadside

    moist hollows: fronds

    tremulous on their black

    chance to be driving

    by a bank overgrown,

    possessed by a tormenting love

    sadly state but firm;

    aloofness which adds

    haunts are dim.

    Summit of the slender,

    under margin of a lobe

    dotted with fragrant heaps.

    Entered the cool

    shade, beauty and luxuriance,

    rich green arched above

    rigid fruit clusters.

    Crown firmed rigid;

    by means of underground runners

    crawled under

    a tight board fence -—

    free veins with simple veinlets

    do not reach

    the midvein. Reflexed marginal

    rows of bright brown sporangia

    wedged in neighbouring

    crannies, sprang from limestone cliffs;

    so blended, with their rocky

    self – assurance at variance.

    Prostrate among the rocks

    rise the firm

    graceful crowns:

    conspicuously marginal

    fruit – dots, caudex covered by the bases —

    apex and the tips

    of its pinnules, plumes

    of departing summer,

    of the greenhouse.

    above the black leaf – mould

    immortal in the swamp herbage,

    centre shades away

    less chaffy stalks; mossy ledges

    above star – like stumps of decaying.

    A projecting shelf

    of bluish green;

    leathery, tapering,

    decayed at its tip

    a flower yet unnamed.

    Day count.

    Columbine flings out

    just uncurled

    roots of some great

    nodding blossom,

    among which the streams forces,

    flavoured with the essence

    once more.

    Fastened underneath

    into jagged, spreading —

    were it not for the difference

    twice to thrice – pinnate

    finally appear naked,

    early withering and exposing

    beneath a reflexed portion.

    Green takes on

    a dark heraldic eagle

    in a cross – section of the young stalk:

    does not wither away,

    grown by reason of the licking.

    Shall shellfish

    in the Andes at fourteen feet

    widely spreading at the summit?

    Reflexed edge, somewhat open

    borne in a continuous line;

    stout stalk, from the trunks

    somewhat lustrous —

    upward turning

    on their upper

    through the winter

    In the rocky woods

    having shiny scales

    convex; persistent

    along the roadside

    and in the wet,

    found in the tiniest

    its creeping rootstock rise.

    At times wear very light,

    standing brown and dry

    from early frosts —

    form midway

    in masses — in wet meadows

    inappropriateness, wavy – toothed

    divisions; berry – like bodies

    usually heart – shaped.

    Scattered on the lower surface

    shale, and conglomerate

    near limestone cliffs

    sprays of the bulblet

    turreted summits.

    Rigid grace, slim in crowded ranks,

    into moist ravines

    necessitates the twisting

    of its stalk. Shelves of shaded rocks:

    surprise — combination of delicacy,

    black stemmed

    under groups of red, with blackish

    and shining, silvery till maturity,

    base auricled;

    the tangle of wild

    close to the roadside fence.

    Of some amber – coloured brook

    the wild bergamot

    its swift noiseless flow.

    Uncurl in May —

    present a rather blotched

    delicacy, scarlet cluster,

    background. Of grain shine

    between umbrella – like Brakes:

    so recently unfolded texture

    seems a trifle.

    Close against the rails;

    as the curves and dimples,

    little undulations

    of the August wood’s border —

  • French Kiss

    GHADA AHMER, JEAN-SYLVAIN BIETH, BERNARD LALLEMAND, DANY LERICHE, PATRICK RAYNAUD
    December 13–January 31, 1998

    The Contemporary Art Gallery and Artspeak Gallery are pleased to present an exhibition that brings five artists from France to Vancouver. In their artwork these artists move between the terrain of aesthetics and sexual content. While researching this exhibition, it became evident that sexual content in visual art is not widely promoted, addressed or even accepted by many French critics and curators. This is somewhat of a paradox in light of the ubiquity of sexual references in imagery in French film and advertising.

    The artists in this exhibition are each clearly concerned with the aesthetic and material aspects of their work; however, underlying these considerations is an exploration in representing sexuality on a psycho/social level. Ghada Amer makes what appear to be lyrical abstract patterns delicately embroidered onto canvas; but these patterns are in reality representations or women in graphic sexual acts that confuse the relationship between high and low culture, between women’s work and pleasure. Jean-Sylvain Bieth presents a multi-media installation with references to sexual desire; but it is also a place of solitude and suffering. Bernard Lallemand employs the materials and surfaces of the hospital to make pristine minimalist objects; but their shapes, often erogenous yet devoid of a body, refer to service and constraint, like strange objects of bondage or ritual. Dany Leriche meticulously re-stages famous paintings to create large allegorical photographs; but the central figures are all women whose nudity is confrontational and challenges the role of the viewer’s gaze. Patrick Raynaud presents nude figures illuminated by the seductive surface of back-lit transparencies; framed in various coffin-like casings, these bodies hover at the edge of eroticism and death.

    At Artspeak Gallery: Dany Leriche and Patrick Raynaud.

    At the Contemporary Art Gallery: Ghada Amer, Jean-Sylvain Bieth and Bernard Lallemand.

    This exhibition has been funded by the Canada Council Dissemination Assistance Program and Association Française d’Action Artistique, and the Consulate General of France in Vancouver.

  • dissection

    JJ LEE
    October 24–December 6, 1997

    The work represented in dissection, continues to address Chinese-Canadian identity through aspects of Western painting traditions. Lee’s new work considers the physical presence of the Asian body, dissected, analyzed and categorized in terms of both gender and race.

    Lee’s interest is to explore aspects of fragmentation found in popular culture and language, in order to destabilize the construction of identity and the self. With references to both Western and Asian medical practices, her paintings are layered with representations that include x-rays, organ diagrams and accupuncture charts. Integral to the new work represented in dissection, is JJ Lee’s desire to understand her relationship to Chinese culture and ideas of “authenticity” by questioning the desire to know the self and the desire to form a possible whole.

  • Travelogue

    SOPHIA LO, ALISON MACTAGGART, DANIEL VOGEL
    September 6–October 18, 1997

    “Travelogue” presents the work of three, young, emerging artists who like so many of us, are from some place else — and have made Vancouver a stop over destination at some point in their life. Adhering to the curatorial premise of travel and movement the installation works by Sophia Lo, Alison MacTaggart and Daniel Vogel, are outspokenly process oriented, playing with (non) traditional means of travel, communication and documentation. These new works also relate to history and the process of time, past and future, present and pragmatic. In addressing a variety of locations and methods of communication, “Travelogue” is consciously situated within an exchange of information and movement, using various methods of communication to produce results that range from electronic exchange to more traditional and metaphorical means of recording the passage of time.

  • Under The Skin

    WARREN MURFITT, KATHY SLADE
    June 13–July 26, 1997

    At the beginning of no words, one of the artists delivers a small package. The box says “Airwalk” on it and I’m pumped to receive what’s inside: a scroll of thin white cotton wrapped with a purple ribbon. Unfurled, four ghostly messages appear one after the other, each one embroidered white on white:

    She sways. Muscles tensed in delirious anticipation. her Vision blurs as she begins to shake in rapturous spasms. The smooth moist surface brushes against her swollen red lips. Creases form where her sweat and the force of her movements converge.
    Pretty transformative stuff [1] wonders what it all might lead to.

    The first two lines might describe my “feminate” excitement as I open the package. Mere slips of material, delicately presented, are usually guaranteed a kindly reception [2] like examining the layette of an expected child.

    Kathy Slade’s gift, artist to artist/writer to writer, is an hors dâoeuvre, presage of things to come. In the gallery, it’s curtains. Whitework: She sways moves exponentially across the entire front of the gallery, embroidered both street and room sides, with a palest lilac interslip of some clever faux silk charmeuse, lending its characteristic cast to the hand. The messages silently repeat themselves, over and over, whispering white on white. Veiling the gallery with language, the verbs in the lines animate the curtains like impulses, echoes: readers and curtains alike sway in the comings and goings. The entrance is nestled into the centre the curtain, where the voluminous folds are clasped back to allow your passage. Someone can’t help herself, and brushes her skin against the fabric. The material drifts onto the floor and lies in waves and crests, so that unless you pay a tension, creases might form where you step, hardening the curves, your passing dirtying the virginal folds. Movements blur, your vision of the outside fades. In soft, urban daylight, the lilac interlining provides a subtlest colour bath to the inside of the gallery.

    At the opposite end of the gallery is a giant Fall, a vertical river of hair photo screened in blue ink on sumptuous red velvet. If the curtains enunciate an historical drift (the writings of female medieval mystics secularized into the macabre of gothic tales, then the final full-blown, serialized traceries of Harlequin romances)[3], this Fall is complete, the implicit swoon gone wild, and the wild woman of surrealism resurgent. That is, she is updated and self-authored, a tousled parody of the Lacanian woman who brims with speech but canât be held by language. She struts right up to the surface of representation, re-configuring Rauol Ubac’s Portrait in a Mirror (1938). Without the solipsism of speechless narcissism, of vanity, there is no masochistic (that is, internalized) sacrifice to representation; instead, what is produced is an uncanny reversal of spectation. Presumably staring right at us, this she (so presently absent) gives no chance for the visitorâs peeping tom-like, scopophilic return. Rendered in good humor, the high-Gothics of the velvet drape, drippingly crimson.

    Since there is nothing natural about the accomplishment of femininity (maintained chiefly through masquerade) the slippage from human hair to the nap of velvet, from hand embroidery to the accelerated industriousness of the machine makes good commentary about the normative divisions between nature and artifice, about how the law functions to produce order at the cost of “nature’s wildness”. Fredric Jameson interprets the postmodern as that moment when capitalism penetrates into the unconscious and nature. What nature has been, and what allowances might be made for it in the future concerns, first of all, the possibilities for interpretation.

    Reading over the lines of Slade’s text, she sways… muscles tensed in delirious anticipation… vision blurs as she begins to shake in rapturous spasms… where her sweat and the force of her movements converge + I have a diabolical suggestion. Suppose we could overhear the cellular chatter of parthenogenesis and gene-trading bacterial omnisexuality,[4] could this be how those transmutating Geronimos describe themselves??

    Warren Murfitt’s Signature is a giant thumb print÷sign of the primate ö married to the subdermal print of a tree. In a collusion of science, fiction and nature, the skin of the tree is scaled 10:1 and flagrantly purple, looking sultry and elegant in the precise way of nature (because it is for itself, and not for us). The thumb print, with enough liquid slippage in its articulation to sign bloodied, is even more deliciously overblown, so that we sink into its phenomenal over-mediation. We recognize it, of course, as the indexical pop culture sign for the war between good and evil (the prime-time narratives of cops and criminals): it’s an old fashioned icon. Visible traceable without the criminal’s permission, it prevails as the cruder, hardier and much more serviceable sign of the telltale trace than that of the high-tech subcutanean DNA. Nostalgia for the recognizable is a main ingredient of the iconic.[5]

    Given the immense transformations in techniques of knowledge since the collapse of the mechanical model of explanation in the nineteenth century, fiction seems an increasingly appropriate method of commentary—if only because, in the hands of artists, it offers itself as a concrete symptom. Slade and Murfitt seem to press up against two routines favoured by the Enlightenment: that of standardization, which is designed to simplify basic models and spare parts, to unify standards of measurements and quality, and Kant’s striking of extreme categories to distinguish between things—for instance human or animal, organic or technical. It is but a small step from these to make rigid divisions between the mythic and political, or the phenomenal and textual.[6] If Slade uses words to form a text which seems at first to float, unlocatable in time, but in fact contains a history of the prefab feminine utterance,[7] Murfitt’s Signature fudges the line between science and fiction in order to show up the normal status quo capabilities of representation (that is, the I am real aspects of representation). Whatever histories of avant-garde logic are involved in the contemporary artistâs substitution of mechanical for handworked processes, The wistfulness of the thumb print and the flayed tree print, the faked hand-writing/hand-embroidery, still register as romantic gestures.

    In the art world, the subject’s unique mark is not only a guarantee of authenticity, it establishes value. We presume, given the title “Signature”, that the thumb print is the artist’s own inimitable mark, but there is no way for the viewer to determine if it is in fact Murfitt’s print (sic). Even if the proffered authenticity could be ascertained, the case is moot—it’s a photographic rendition. The signature is no more unique in this case than Slade’s feminine utterances. Nevertheless, the ability to render remains the means of establishing—if not value in the usual artistic sense—at least pedigree, since it is “tool use” which supposedly separates us from animals.

    To “make one’s mark” on such a scale is a grandiose assertion. If it’s meant to function as a kind of I was here, the gesture is synthetic, the authentic possibility becoming another version of mass produced sentiment (and involving something upon which capitalism depends: the illusion that uniqueness can be bought). The thumb print’s unverifiable origin makes the artist’s mark generic; more sinisterly, it could be the mark of a murderer as easily as Murfitt’s. Beyond conflating the genres of portraiture and landscape (in landscape tradition, the tree is a stand-in for the lone [male] individual), this kind of skin-to-skin coupling really messes around with heroics.

    Take Me is a large cube made of plywood, three feet square, its surface dyed psychedelic purple. One hundred and fifty handles cover the surface of the cube on all sides. Ostensibly, they serve as visual invitations, “easy access” to picking up the minimalist cube, but—red and soft and rounded off—they remind me of blood worms. Hand-carved by the artist, they are also copies, patterned off the handgrip on a concrete floating tool. This mimetic relation between the individual and the industrial production line seems absurd until you consider whether first or third world workers produced the “original” template; if the latter, then they’re probably hand-finished anyway. The object seems downright silly: here’s the quintessential minimalist object not proclaiming HANDLE WITH CARE. Puffed up like a blow fish or like bristles on a brush, its very non-theoretical handles do a fine job of protecting the central core, of making a display of minimalism and excess, of blowing the wad (The Handle) on minimalism, of lampooning lost innocence (take me!). Some kind of preciousness has become impure, gone over to the other side.

    Depending on whether your organizational impulse is to identify with interiors or exteriors, Murfitt’s minimalist cube seems impregnated, or contaminated all over with the “bloody handles”; it’s a kind of jockey, flogged dead horse. And yet the cube is imperious. It forces out from itself what comes from within. The consummate sign of readiness (“getting a handle”) becomes superfluous in numbers—abject failures rather than triumphant borers. Does the conscious register ever really get a handle on the unconscious, or is material practice its brute cousin?

    Skin, hair, blood—these stubbornly fragile parts of the body mark the seductive, at times dangerously abject boundaries between one body and that of an other. Both Slaenoncede essential aspects of representation and subjectivity forcefully into play: screen prints and thumb prints; the displaced enonce of the printed word and the phenomenal magic of the photographic print, where the one echoes the other to hover in the interstices between light and shadow; machine embroidery (the marriage of speech and hand, gone tertiary, gone anonymous) and the elemental print of a tree (the flat out, reified aesthetic mutation of something shadowed byomniscient industrial uses, and hence made newly, nostalgically precious); methods of industry, both personal and social, and their ideological imports. The print is a reliquary, pure and never simple.

    —Kati Campbell, 1997

    NOTES

    1 stuff: raw material or fabric; to fill (an animal’s skin) with material so as to restore the shape of the live animal; to have sexual intercourse with (a woman). Collins English Dictionary.

    (return to essay)

    2 except maybe when peevish with one’s period.

    3 Slade co-wrote the text with Cate Rimmer. The reader is most likely to connect the writing style with that of romance novels typified by Harlequin Publishing, where sex is banned and innuendo is all. But I want to draw the reader’s attention to how much such prose has been cleaned up from a much older form of feminine ecriture. Caroline Walker Bynum, in “The Female Body and Religious Practice in the Later Middle Ages” relates that medieval women regularly spoke of, “tasting God, of kissing Him deeply, of going into His heart or entrails, of being covered by His blood. Their descriptions…blur the line between spiritual or psychological, on the one hand, and bodily or even sexual, on the other. Lidwina of Schiedam and Gertrude of Delft, for example, felt such maternal desire for the Christ child that milk flowed from their breasts…The thirteenth-century poet and mystic Hadewijch spoke of Christ penetrating her until she lost herself in the ecstasy of love.” Bynum, in ed. M. Feher with Ramona Naddaff and Nadia Tazi, Fragments for a History of the Human Body, Part One (New York:Urzone,1989), p. 168.

    4 Omnisexuality is the oldest form of sex on the planet. While some insects and plants are capable of reproduction without fertilization, bacteria perform genetic exchanges without regard for species barriers. See Dorian Sagan, “Metametezoa: Biology and Multiplicity – eds. J. Crary and S. Kwinter, Incorporations(New York: Urzone, 1992), pp. 376-378.

    5 The nostalgic turn here is more insidious that you might expect, given that “[M]odern biology, informed by cellular ultra structure through electron microscopy and detailed knowledge of gene sequences, has supplemented or even negated the long-standing division between plant and animal kingdoms.” Sagan, op. cit., p. 362.

    6 Bruno Latour argues that, “Kant’s Critique, which set off at extreme poles Things-in-Themselves from the Transcendental Ego, is what made us believe ourselves to be ‘modem’,” effectively (re)structuring, the political Constitution of Truth. What Latour calls “modern” is a separation of the object and subject poles, “the complete separation of the representation of things—science and technology—from there presentation of humans—politics and justice.” (I would note that Latour’s outlay of representational modes does not include art.) See Donna Haraway, “The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others,” eds. L. Grossberg, C. Nelson and P. Treichler, Cultural Studies (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 329-30. Haraway herself describes postmodern cyborgs as being provocative compounds of the organic, technical, mythic, textual and political. See “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century (1985),” reprinted in Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature (London: Free Association Books, 1991).

    7 That the female mystic kept faith with bodily experience, and hence bodily metaphor during the medieval period, is not accounted for simply by stating that the speech acts of women did not otherwise register authoritatively.. Bynum’s reminder, that “we must not forget the educational context,” concerns womenâs practice, of course, whatever period of activity is being considered. Medieval women, “usually wrote… in the vernaculars—that is, in the languages they grew up speaking. The major literary genres available in these languages were various kinds of love poetry and romantic stories… [which used] a vocabulary of feelings.” “[W]omen’s works, especially their accounts of visions, were often dictated (that is, spoken) rather than penned;” exhibiting traits, “characteristic of oral thought and expression,” the prose “tends to circle around its point, evoking a state of being.” (172) “[M]en write of the mystical experience, giving a general description which may be used as a theory or yardstick, whereas women write of ‘my’ mystical experience speaking directly of something that may have occurred to them alone. This is true even when, as in the case of Hildegard of Bingen or Julian of Norwich, a highly sophisticated theology is elaborated over many years as a gloss on visionary experiences.” Bynum, op. cit., p. 168.1 10

  • Women of Allah

    SHIRIN NESHAT
    April 25–June 7, 1997

    Questioning issues related to fundamentalism, religion and a women’s role in the Middle East, Shirin Neshat’s photographs attempt to intersect the merging position of culture and politics of the state.

    Artspeak Gallery is pleased to present the work of New York based photographer Shirin Neshat. The Women of Allah series will be exhibited at the Artspeak Gallery until June 7. This series of work has been an on-going project that started in 1993. Various components from this series have been exhibited at different international venues—1995 Venice Biennale, 1996 the Istanbul Biennial, and the “Jurassic Technologies Revenant” the 10th Biennial of Sydney, Australia. Shirin Neshat was born in Qazvin, Iran in 1957. She left Iran in 1974 to pursue Fine Arts at the University of California where she received her MFA in 1982. In 1990 Neshat visited Iran for the first time in 16 years. Afterward, returning to the United States, her work took on a dramatic shift as she began a formal exploration of the complex role negotiated by Iranian women throughout history. As a young adult Neshat left Iran before the Revolution that took place under the Khomenini regime in 1978/79. She made photographs which discussed these issues, using herself as the subject.

    Examining the paradoxical position of Iranian women she reflected on personal memories of the homeland. Memories that included wearing a chador to Mosque and the influence of Iranian feminist poets. Many of these past experiences figure prominently in her work, resulting in highly charged, confrontational images, that represent a hybrid cultural construction of the self. Questioning issues related to fundamentalism, religion and a women’s role in the Middle East, Neshat attempts to intersect the merging position of culture and politics of the state. Excerpts of Farsi poems from contemporary writers like Forough Farokhzad and Tahereh Saffarazdeh have been applied directly onto the surfaces of the photographs in black and red ink. These poets figure prominently in Shirin Neshat’s work – they were women who addressed issues of sexuality and desire at a time when no else had dared to engage with such subjects. In addressing these issues Neshat not only tries to reconcile her past, but simultaneously provokes her audience into furthering the discussion.

    A catalogue publication, “Women of Allah” will be released on Friday May 16. Copies may be ordered through the gallery. This 33 page publication contains black and white and colour illustrations of the artist’s work, an essay by Jacqueline Larson and Ahmad T. The cost is $15. Add $2. additional for postage and handling. Cheques are made payable to Artspeak Gallery. Shirin Neshat will be in attendance for the book launch, and to present short, informal talk which begins at 8pm.

  • (de)constructing utopias

    MANUEL PIÑA
    March 22–April 19, 1997

    Interview with Manuel Piña by Peter Hudson and Susan Edelstein
    March 19, 1997

    PH: (de)constructing utopias involves a form of documentation of the Microbrigadas. Could you spend some time describing them?

    MP: The Microbrigadas are one of the many projects organized by the Cuban government that have been happening for years in Cuba. The Cuban government would call upon people to help them solve major social problems. For example, when we had food shortages, we decided that we would attempt a record production of sugar so we could get through the crisis. For many years the government didn’t pay attention to living spaces, so we had a major housing shortage. It was impossible to find housing in Cuba. You would often have four generations of people living in the same house. The government proposed to provide people with materials and they could build there own living spaces-under the condition that they would first build a kindergarten, a small school, a small hospital, or some other kind of social facility. For many reasons the Microbrigadas never worked. There are people who have been working for fifteen years to get an apartment that still hasn’t been built. The Microbrigadas were an example of the utopia ideals that people believe in- although they know that somehow they wouldn’t work. For me, the Microbrigadas are important because they were the last time that people really believed in these ideals. They were the last utopias of the Cuban Revolution before the social crisis we experienced with the fall of the Soviet Union.

    PH: How does this come through in the Artspeak show?

    MP: I’m not talking exactly about the crisis in the show, I’m talking about the mechanisms at work behind utopian movements. I suggest it has to do with an almost religious hope. It has to do with the necessity for people to believe in something and to imagine an ideal future that you are willing to do whatever is necessary to build. Your actual needs or feelings are then delayed; everything is postponed to build this future. You don’t cease to become a person; you become something that is important only in so far as you are able to help to build the future.

    PH: Do you feel there was almost a psychic shift, a shift in consciousness, when people who had dedicated their lives to this movement became fed up with or betrayed by this utopian prospect? Was it somehow manifest on the streets of Cuba?

    MP: Yes. The Cuban nation went through a kind of trauma. We’ve never realized our ideals of freedom. As we were about to gain our independence from Spain, the States took over and we became a colony of the US. We went straight from the hands of Spain to the hands of the States. This feeling of frustration is something that the nation has always remembered. In the first decade of this century, we had a revolution that was never realized; then we had another revolution in the thirties that was stymied again. When Castro came to power it was as if all our ideals were realized. And besides that, it was a very important moment, not only for Cubans, but for left-leaning people all over the world. Cuba was a dream come true for the left. This created a shift in Cuban consciousness: we became not only free, but we also became an important nation in the world. People came from all over the world to see this dream. Intellectuals and scientists from Europe came to Cuba to work. It was an amazing moment in Cuban history, and of course it shifted the ways that Cuban people viewed themselves.

    SE: So now you’re attempting to recreate history—or making a fictional history—from the photographs mounted in the gallery. You’re asserting the notion that historical documentation is not accurate. How does this make feel about the future? Do you feel like you have inserted the possibility of hope or change by altering the viewers perspective?
    I guess I wonder if Cuba’s future seems futile to you?

    MP: Again, talking about this crisis, there was a sensation that there was nowhere to go. People—like my father—who had devoted all of their lives to the Revolution all of a sudden found out that it had failed. They got some information on what was happening in Russia and they realized that they had idealized the revolution. We became suspect about what was happening. You felt hopelessness. You didn’t believe in anything, it’s as if everything was a lie. I think the saddest part of all of it was that, morally, people decayed. In a previous piece, Manipulations, Truths and some other Illusions (1995), I emphasized the nature of photography as a means of constructing history, but in de/constructing utopias,I was trying to focus on how this beautiful idea of utopias and equality—of sacrificing your life just to get something better for your future or for future generations—is something that will never work because it becomes oppressive.

    PH: We spoke earlier about criticism and the possibility or impossibility of finding a place to critique from. Could you speak about this in regards to the function of artists in this sense?

    MP: I wouldn’t say that artists were critical of the Revolution. They were making political statements, but many times they were on the side of the Revolution. The government, the nature of photography as a means of constructing history, but in de/constructing utopias,I was trying to focus on how this beautiful idea of utopias and equality-of sacrificing your life just to get something better for your future or for future generations-is something that will never work because it becomes oppressive.

    PH: We spoke earlier about criticism and the possibility or impossibility of finding a place to critique from. Could you speak about this in regards to the function of artists in this sense?

    MP: I wouldn’t say that artists were critical of the Revolution. They were making political statements, but many times they were on the side of the Revolution. The government, however, didn’t always understand that and artist were regarded with suspicion. Now, of course, many artists are using this “critical” position to create a market for themselves and attract collectors. This kind of political art which apparently showed the Cuban situation is attractive to collectors and gets very good prices. But it’s not political any more of course: it’s just a cliché. Looking at all of that, I don’t think that art, in this society, is in a position to criticize anything as we are part of that. I am trying to focus more on the personal responses to this situation. I would say I’m talking about ethics more than anything else.

    PH: So in a sense, the utopian project shifts from being about social processes on a macro scale, to ethical process on a micro scale.

    MP: I would say so. I would say that its hard for someone to decide what’s right for others, whether you are an artist or a political leader, but I think if you took an ethical position, questioning yourself first, it would help things. That’s the kind of position I’m trying to suggest that people take.

    PH: I was a little surprised at the scale of the work when I first saw it. I was expecting a more spectacular, polished work that would really take over the gallery space. But the understated nature of the show is a subtle but extremely effective comment on this utopian project. Could you talk about the original installation of the work and some of the problems you’ve had in transferring it to a Canadian context?

    MP: Originally, this piece was designed for a much larger space, whose walls were very rich in detail. Thick plaster walls that had aged over time and acquired a patina composed of various paints. The pieces are so small that they would become a natural part of the space. The images acted as traces of a utopian project that was attempted in the room. I was trying to convey the sensation of looseness and hallucination that you feel when you are in this crazy, but at the same time blissful, moment of utopia. I wanted to pass on to the viewer a feeling of disorientation. I did get this, but it was very unpleasant to viewers and many people did not like the piece. Some of this reaction was because the work was a part of a bigger show where many of the other artists were creating very strong installations with powerful images; after looking at the rest of this show, it was a strange experience entering this almost empty room. Many people loved the piece, but many people hated it. Nevertheless, because of the images of construction, it was very clear to Cubans what it was all about. I don’t really know how it will be read by Canadians. Although, of course, the connections between building materials and fragments of the human body are very suggestive.

    PH: Because of your play with the photos of Eduardo Muñoz, an article I recently read on your work discussed how it became kind of ambiguous as to who the author of these photos was, and hence, of the entire installation. It seems related, there’s a connection between the ego of someone who positions themselves as an architect of utopias and the desire of an artist to assert an ownership over images or a vision. In a sense, your name becomes almost loosely attached to (de)constructing utopias.

    MP: The negatives were shot by Eduardo Muñoz, a brilliant Cuban photographer who was trying to document the Microbrigadas. I was trying to critically manipulate the images by juxtaposing things that were not supposed to be juxtaposed. I was trying to ideologically manipulate them so that they would give you a completely different version-my own version-of what happened there.

    I was trying to show the similarity between this and the way history is constructed. Historians take facts and they manipulate them into their own version. Also, because they are not my images, I am questioning notions of authorship and originality. By doing this—and this is something that I had done already in Manipulations, Truths and some other Illusions-I was trying to examine the possibility of originality and authorship in this cultural context.

    PH: It seems like a risky venture to take because it undermines your own position as someone who is trying to survive in the art world.

    MP: Actually, no. The fact is, in Cuba we don’t have an art market so my art tends not to sell. This gives me a freedom to do whatever I want. For example, artists who are part of the New York art scene have to be very careful about what they create

    because of the surveillance of the art market. Selling my art is not a big issue for me. In this sense we are in an advantageous position as we have a freedom that allows us to do things that others, elsewhere, would hesitate to do.

    SE: This installation seems to be such a radical departure

    from your previous work. The small scale and deteriorating photo paper suggests an anti-aesthetic

    freedom that retreats from the photographic norm of “pristine” or archival documentation.

    MP: Each one of my pieces is somehow different from what I’ve done before, even though there are common points-like the idea of photography as a base for the construction of history, and the ethical concerns I’ve discussed. Formally and conceptually the pieces are still quite different from each other. I thrive on the challenge of experimentation, and though I’m always nervous about how new work will be received, the freedom that I mentioned allows me to be faithful to my ideas.

    SEE MANUEL PIÑA ONLINEWORK

  • Foodscape

    LEE KA-SING, P.K. LEUNG
    February 14–March 15, 1997

    Artspeak Gallery is pleased to support the Pomelo Project and provide website access for

    CITY AT THE END OF TIME: HONG KONG 1997

    This multi-faceted venue will run from February 11–March 15, 1997. Events will include a series of art exhibitions, readings, and public talks engaged with Hong Kong culture. Artists and writers from Hong Kong, Canada and the United States will be in Vancouver from February 11 to 16, 1997 to present their work on the theme of Hong Kong as a place defined by the movement of people, goods, and culture, in and out of this vital port city. Accompanying the events will be a special issue of the journal “West Coast Line”, an artist’s book, and this World Wide Web site. All Art exhibits run until March 15, 1997.

    Artists, writers and cultural critics: Ackbar Abbas, Choi Yan-Chi, Rey Chow, Jamelie Hassan, Rosa Ho, jamila ismail, Kum Chi-Keung, Lee Ka-sing, P.K. Leung, K.C. Lo, Mary Sui-Yee Wong and Jim Wong- Chu will all be participating.

    CITY AT THE END OF TIME: HONG KONG 1997 is organized by the Pomelo Project, a Vancouver, Canada-based collective of Asian Canadian artists, writers and critics. Co-sponsoring venues for the events are all located in downtown Vancouver: Access Gallery, Artspeak Gallery, FotoBase Gallery, Helen Pitt Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery and Simon Fraser University, Harbour Centre.

    VIEW THE PROJECT

  • Re-Collect

    WAYNE ARSENAULT
    January 11–February 8, 1997

    Wayne Arsenault is fascinated with exploring the nuances of his own Acadian culture and has produced a painterly narrative that explores the internalized landscape of familial history and the external physical landscape of Acadia. His exhibition at Artspeak Gallery consists of a series of painted juxtapositions in which the artist stitched together fragments of family memories with archival imagery of his Acadian heritage. This visual splicing of images (both real and imagined) functioned to tell another version of the social history of Acadian everyday life.

    In mapping the traces of personal experience onto the “official” canvas of Acadia, the artist reminds us of the contingency of historical representations and the deliberate means by which histories are edited and re-written. “What is presented [as history] is in fact always selective: an intentionally selective version of a shaping past and a preshaped present which is powerfully operative in the process of social and cultural definitions and identifications.”

    —Raymond Williams

    Moreover, in acknowledging the personal—his mother’s floral china patterns, family snap-shots and recollections from childhood vacations in the Maritimes—the artist was able to identify and reclaim subjective memories in order to construct a larger collective history of place.

    —Susan Schuppli

  • The Science of Swimming

    MONIQUE GENTON
    November 15–December 14, 1996

    Artspeak Gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Vancouver based artist Monique Genton.

    The Science of Swimming is a photo-based painting and video projection installation. The video work was produced on a Macintosh computer using the Adobe Premiere application program and was later transferred onto video tape. Using still images and text found in a 1929 swimming manual the artist re-presents the fractured female subject, silenced by the scientific gaze.

    “When I encountered my source images in a 1929 swimming manual, I was struck with how they fail miserably to describe swimming’s multi-faceted experience—meanwhile, asserting legitimacy through an import of scientific rhetorical strategies. In response, my photo-based paintings attempt to symbolically reinvest absent human experience through the introduction of human scale, poetic gestures, tactile surfaces, and subject—based narratives. Many layers of glazed paint form a sensual membrane rehumanizing these stagnant photographs. Titles are derived by augmenting text from the original swimming manual with my interpretation of what the subject may have heard, felt, thought, or seen, e.g. Over a longer distance, the breathing intervals become too lengthy and this puts a great strain on the organism/I think of you often.”
    —MONIQUE GENTON

    In the video the artist employs additional narratives to extend the metaphor of swimming. The original didactic text from the manual is used in conjunction with Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, which describes a turn-of-the-century woman’s experience of discovering her body and asserting her independence through the rituals of swimming. The other narrative structure is the voice of the artist, who describes in the first person, experiences that elude to violence and sexuality. As the text pans slowly across the surface of the screen the subject is intermittently caressed by the sounds of moving water and overlapping images. It is through the metaphor of swimming that the subject re-claims her female identity.

    VIEW THE PROJECT

  • Bolster

    BARBARA COLE
    September 6–October 5, 1996

    Artspeak Gallery is pleased to announce our fall exhibition series commencing September 6th, 1996, exhibiting work that will continue to critique the use of new technologies in convergence with contemporary art practice.

    Our first exhibit, entitled ‘Bolster’, is a mixed media installation by Vancouver artist Barbara Cole. The actual web site piece is currently under construction and will be up on our site as of September 6th in time for the opening. The Bolster web component will remain on the Artspeak web site for several months after the exhibit has ended.

    Barbara Cole investigates desire through an erotics of engagement. Through explorations of the fetish, conventional objects and materials provide the means of bolstering sexual desire, personal confidence and physical presence. Cole’s inquiry into the impact of intimacy has led to this current body of work which explores the space between personal experience and the construction of sexualized identity. With seemingly innocuous materials like rubber latex, plumbing chain and surgical hose Cole pushes the viewer’s response in a subtle manner that encourages the viewer to examine sexual fantasy. Manipulating the constructed response to various objects and mediums a natural shift occurs in our public and private perception of the installation. Stirring up memories with associative meanings Cole allows the impact of intimacy to resonate with our experience.

  • Misc. People

    LINDA CHINFEN
    July 6–August 3, 1996

    Artspeak Gallery is pleased to present “Misc. People”, the first solo exhibition produced by Vancouver artist Linda Chinfen. Using previous investigations surrounding stereotypes as her departure point Chinfen creates a dialogue between commonly used art supplies and prepackaged computer clip art.

    By illustrating the limitations of manufactured goods the artist calls attention to the inherent racist and gendered inequalities present in commonly used art materials and certain computer programs. Using an overt strategy, akin to mass marketing techniques, Chinfen points out the identification coding language used to seduce a particular consuming public.

    Individual identity is reduced to computer files such as, Disk 1, Subdirectory: People 1, FACE 18. Skin tones become designer tints, with names like Africano, Orientale and Dresden Flesh. These manufactured art mediums become the vehicle for western constructions of race and gender. Juxtaposing these readymade materials with computer clipart Chinfen reminds us of the cultural constrictions being imposed upon us in supposedly innocuous manners.

    These imposed identities are responsible for the classification and perpetuation of stereotyping. Repeated exposure to these commonly used materials and computer programs serves to build another layer of disparity and reinforce the existing categories that prescribe race, class and gender inequality.

  • Imagining Communities

    JIN-ME YOON
    May 31–June 29, 1996

    Artspeak Gallery is pleased to present the work of Vancouver artist Jin-me Yoon. Imagining communities (bojagi), is part of an ongoing exploration which examines the relationship between the experience of cultural displacement and the construction of cultural identity. This gallery installation and internet project is an extension of the work, Screens (byongpung) which was especially made for the 1993 exhibition at the Queens Museum in New York entitled Across the Pacific: Contemporary Korean and Korean American Art. Across the Pacific then travelled to the Kumho Museum of Art in Seoul, Korea.

    Originally proposed by the artist/activist group SEORO Korean Cultural Network, the exhibition had the potential to address the 150,000 Koreans who call Flushing, New York “home”. Given the specific exhibition context, Yoon privileges the mother-daughter relationship, that is her relationship to her mother by weaving together personal and social histories (from the Korean War to the 1990’s). Using everyday archival images such as the passport photograph and those found in family albums, Yoon questions the supposed realism of photographic images and points instead to the polysemic quality of photographic meaning.

    Imagining communities uses the “bojagi” as an organising metaphor to address questions of audiences and communities while focusing on Korean diasporic women. A “bojagi” is a square piece of cloth, often made from scraps, used traditionally to cover food or wrap objects such as clothing, books and blankets. Unlike a suitcase, the bojagi changes shape depending on the object to be wrapped or carried. In the gallery installation, the folded screens are covered with delicate brightly coloured silk limiting the viewer’s access to the photographic images and written text in Korean. The lightboxes, which are similarly wrapped in silk, will be unwrapped displaying some of the on-line comments collected during the project at the closing reception Friday, June 28 at 8pm.

    On the web site, photographs and text contained within the folded screens in the gallery are presented digitally as to privilege fragmentation and to suggest the complex non-linear process of memory. Yoon asks whether it is possible to create a provisional community of sorts on the internet when an audience, with a shared history of dispersal from a country dominated and partitioned by external powers, is geographically absent. By creating an on-line component, she expresses a yearning to tentatively gather a virtual audience and to project the possibilities of creating a community of Korean diasporic women.

    Despite the implications of using the English language as well as the limitations concerning the issue of access to communication technology for different communities, Yoon desires through the words of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha: “to extract each fragment by each fragment from the word from the image another word another image the reply that will not repeat history in oblivion”. (Dictee)

    Jin-me Yoon’s photographically based work centers around preoccupations with history,memory, language and cultural identity. Born in 1960 in Seoul, Korea, she immigrated to Vancouver, B.C. Canada in 1968. She has exhibited widely in Canada as well as internationally in the U.S., Korea, Japan, and Turkey. Yoon continues to live and work in Vancouver where she is Assistant Professor in the Visual Arts Area at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts.

    VIEW THE PROJECT

  • W.

    LORNA BROWN
    April 26–May 25, 1996

    Artspeak Gallery is pleased to announce W., a installation work in the gallery space with an internet component by Vancouver artist Lorna Brown.

    ‘W.’ is a ‘mirror’ work to ‘M.’ from 1990 which was installed at Cathedral Place, using the history and recent controversy about the Woodward’s Building in downtown Vancouver. Brown’s studio has been in this neighborhood for the last ten years and she was, until its recent closure, a Woodward’s hardware department ‘regular’. Its basement food floor was an established hangout for local residents in the middle hours of the day. The building has been described as an anchor to the surrounding businesses, residential hotels, missions and soup kitchens. The neighborhood and its longtime residents are feeling the effect of upscale development in Gastown to the north and the Expo lands to the south.

    Over the past six years Brown has been making installation works that combine two sets of ideas: the social history of several Vancouver area buildings under dispute, and the structural use of the initial (I.) in creating a contingent place or temporary identity from which women can safely speak. These works are loosely titled ‘Anomalies’.

    “I am interested in investigating further the relationship between the structures of our built environment and the social structures of gender, class and history. The temporary, strategic positioning of the female subject in urban spaces is evident in the title of this body of work”.

    This new work refers in part to large scale ‘fictional’ pictures used to revamp and renovate the identities of neighbourhoods in the form of banners, hoardings and the like, a field for the free play of fantasy in the revisioning of the city, the imaginings of various interests or ‘stakeholders’. The work intersects with the use of imaging technology in the construction of identities and takes advantage of technology’s potential to suggest fictional identities while pointing out the illusion.

    VIEW THE PROJECT

  • Virtually Queer

    PAUL PERCHAL
    March 22–April 20, 1996

    Artspeak Gallery is pleased to announce the commencement of our spring 1996 exhibition series that will critique the use of new technologies in convergence with contemporary art practice.

    Our first exhibit, entitled Virtually Queer, is an computer interactive/ photographic installation by Vancouver artist Paul Perchal.

    Perchal posits the viewer into a virtual place by challenging our use of language and our socially constructed understanding of images / gendered objects and sound. By presenting a re-evaluation of the way we express our thoughts and experiences we are able to go beyond conventional meaning.

    In challenging our perception of words like Queer and Virtual the artist has created a provocative type of post-humanity, one which Foucault refers to as the “reverse discourse”. In attempting to present a wider range of possibilities the artist is no longer just speaking out on his behalf, as a gay, white, middle class, male. By offering this challenge to the viewer the”reverse discourse” disrupts the terms we have come to understand in our definition of the self. Virtually Queer presents a necessary space for new articulations not only in technology but in how we experience everyday life.

    Our special thanks to Axel Mulder, developer of the iCube System used in this exhibit. This event is also in conjunction with the electronic festival being held at the Western Front.

  • Domicile

    SUSAN SCHUPPLI
    February 16–March 16, 1996

    An important current within contemporary feminist discourse is concerned with interrogating the binarism that constructs domesticity as a private feminine space and the city as a public masculine one. That interrogation acknowledges that while the public world refuses complete and safe access to women, the home cannot as a result be assumed a ‘safe zone’ where women are enabled as fully mobile subjects. The work of Susan Schuppli problematizes essentialist gender oppositions that lead to such reductivism; initially this was demonstrated through works that advanced the city as a site of both pleasure and danger for women. A project entitled Nightwalker presented an independent female protagonist—one who took to the streets—the virtual flaneuse whose movements ranged between self-abandonment and retreat. In that project Schuppli posited an important paradigm shift that allowed a re-embodied feminine subject to emerge within a public space, and affirmed Elizabeth Grosz’s assertion that “there is nothing intrinsically alienating or unnatural about the city.”

    __

    “Bodies*Cities”, Space, Time, Perversion, 1995

    Glass Houses

    “Modernity has been haunted, as we know very well, by a myth of transparency: transparency of the self to nature, of the self to the other, of all selves to society—and all this represented, if not constructed, from Jeremy Bentham to Le Corbusier, by a universal transparency of building materials, spacial penetration, and the flow of air, light, and physical movement…”

    __

    Anthony Vidler, The Architectural Uncanny, 1992

    The gesture within modernist architecture which attempts to base the construction of housing upon Le Corbusier’s notion of the ‘prism pure’—that geometric form which allows the passage of light from all directions—is clearly at odds with a social assumption that links concealment with safety. The experience of life in a modernist ‘glass house’ would, according to that assumption, be one of anxiety that proceeds not from an undomesticated sense of taste but because what is safe is presumably enclosed and what threatens is exposed. By contrast, houses designed in the ‘contemporary suburban aesthetic’ are usually sheathed in cedar or brick in an attempt to provide dwellers with protection from the ‘dangers’ that prey upon them from the outside world. An architecture of ‘cozy’ concealment that aims, by extension, to foster ‘good’ family dynamics.

    Surrey, BC – Heavily armed police kicked in the doors of a suburban Vancouver home yesterday, yanked the occupants from their beds, hand cuffed them and forced them to the floor with guns pointed at their heads. “I couldn’t believe it,” said Hank B., a middle-aged resident of a middle-class neighbourhood who says he has never had trouble with the police…”I was told not to move (and) he had a gun pointed at the back of my head,” Mr. B. said later. “He cuffed me and he had my wife on the floor with a machine gun on her.”

    __

    Globe and Mail, Saturday Jan. 20, 1996.

    Driveby

    With DOMICILE the embodied ambulation of the flaneuse is not the means by which viewers are transported through an imagined social space; instead we meander—in a manner befitting the suburb—by car. Here we are not voyaging voyeurs who remain locked within a roving cocoon: viewing, judging, but never emerging. Instead we roam suburban streets powered by a need to uncover. This is a drive to eviscerate: to flay a model home of its vinyl siding or peel the skin of stucco from a seemingly chaste townhouse. Not from mere architectural bloodlust though, but out of the desire to expose the interiors of domestic settings to counter those readings of ‘home’ that are written, opaquely, across so many homogenous exteriors.

    Susan Schuppli engages a feminist critique of the domestic realm by positing the home as the place which has historically been viewed as ‘proper’ to women. Constructing a hybrid space where photographic representations of domestic signifiers intersect with visual references to architectural discourse, she turns what is inside the home out in order to destabilize the equivication of hiddenness and security. Schuppli advances a range of materials and spaces that at first appear benign—and even act as signifiers of the ‘good’ home—and decodes them in order to recognize the condition whereby women have traditionally provided space without truly occupying any. Thus the subtext of this work reads that while the home has historically been gendered as feminine, it has been sexed as male—a narrative which reproduces both the logic of patriarchy and the conditions whereby violence is domesticated and internalized to that discourse.

    An important essay by Mark Wigley, “Untitled: The Housing of Gender”, Sexuality and Space, 1992, elucidates the role played by certain architectural traditions in defining a relationship between spatial order and a gendered system of social organization. At the same time he argues for a thoughtful feminist re-engagement of domestic space:

    “The implied familial narrative of feminism growing up and leaving the secure private domain of the house for the public sphere exempts the house from analysis. While the new space of feminist theory is seen to be simply beyond the distinction between private and public, that distinction is restored inasmuch as that space is seen to be simply ‘beyond’ that of the house… The house is (then) literally left behind, intact as if innocent of the violence it appears to frame.”

    For Schuppli the home is a structure where the gendered binarisms that inscribe forms of social control demand to be problematized. One such binary notion aligns ‘woman’ with the corporeal rather than the intellectual. This positioning refuses women the kind of rationality whichis considered necessary to participating in public life and consequently re-inserts her within the private or domestic sphere. In response, DOMICILE juxtaposes a pair of images which depict a row of identical townhouses with a carefully arranged closet of women’s clothing. In the latter image a black leather jacket which would easily blend within the hetenomy of urban attire disrupts a repetitive line of floral prints and dresses. What this overwrought piece of leather outerwear displaces is inevitably the set of signs and codes that traditonally inscribe femininity, domesticity, and suburbanism—and link them as terms that oppose masculinity and urbanism.

    Break-in

    In DOMICILE all is not as it seems on the banal surfaces of the places imagined: violence is as much a part of the local currency as are trimmed hedges and wooden paneling. What is even more evident here is the notion that when the inside of the home is turned out, the binaries that have historically overdetemined domestic paradigms are shattered.

    —Patrick Mahon

    VIEW THE PROJECT

  • Just Off-White

    HELEN GEDDES
    January 12–February 10, 1996

    Artspeak Gallery is pleased to present the work of Vancouver artist Helen Geddes. This new body of work is part of an ongoing exploration of theoretical issues surrounding painting and how they intersect with the construction of identity. Narrative text is used to discuss ideas surrounding miscegenation as she resurrects memories of feeling…

  • The Celtic-Nevada Passageway

    RUTH MACLAURIN
    November 17–December 10, 1995

    The exhibition recreates the Celtic cemetery of Austin, Nevada, by juxtaposing delineation of the cemetery plots (filled with natural debris from trees, which figure so prominently in Celtic lore and myth) with the shadows of markers that MacLaurin recorded at the cemetery.

    The installation is a powerful metaphor of memorial. The pathway between the two rows of graves through which the viewer is invited to walk, is the passage from life to death. A path down which, according to Celtic mythology, the soul is carried by Celtic hounds.

    An art professor at Okanagan University College in British Columbia, Canada, MacLaurin visited Austin while working on her masters at Washington State University.

    “The town’s cemetery was crowded with the imported Celtic cross, marking both the passage of a people and a culture, as well as the transplanted memory of that culture,” MacLaurin explains. She adds that she was drawn to the “sense of exile that was felt among these gravestones…the self-exile of the immigrant or displaced person, like the pilgrim of old.”

  • Altered Terrain

    JENNIFER WALTON
    September 9–October 7, 1995

    Recently completed paintings by Montreal artist Jennifer Walton have examined institutions of male dominance, using “as metaphor the quintessentially male activity of sport hunting” to address issues of the patriachal history in painting and image making in general.

    Inherent to the work is the allusion to the male gaze. White North American males decked in full hunting regalia, are portrayed gazing at maps or through binoculars—searching for something. Walton uses these images to flip the historical tradition of men objectifying women through the painted image.

    The paintings displayed at Artspeak titled “Altered Terrain” inject another layer of disruption to the male gaze. Walton, clad in blue jeans and t-shirt, challenges the agency of the gaze by portraying herself simultaneously as subject and object—thereby questioning the authority of constructed power systems.

  • Annie Get Your Gun

    LYNNE MARSH
    May 19–June 16, 1995

    X Press Article
    Gone hunting for the iconology of firearms by Kirk Finken of X Press: Ottawa 1994

    When a woman poses for the camera while holding a gun, what goes through her mind? And what power does the image hold? Lynne Marsh brings these questions to light, gives them a studio frame, and clicks the shutter. With eight life-size color prints, Marsh provides us with a fascinating analysis of gesture, symbol, and culture.

    Marsh handled a gun for the first time last year while pheasant hunting with a group of men. When presented with photos of the hunting party, she was struck by her image, ” as powerful as those of the men, yet foreign.” She then invited some women friends to take part in her photographic experiment, allowing them to dress and pose with the guns as they pleased.

    The result is a complex dialogue which is as much iconoloy of firearms as it is iconography of female personae. In the faces of the subjects we read personal malaise, cultural self-hatred, and urges to be violent. One woman’s pose reads defiance and anger, her eyes and facial tension telling of a difficuly life. With the handgun tucked in her waistband, there is fantasy to fulfill her anger. Another feels discomfort holding the gun at her side, her eyes tell us she is disinterested and disdainful of the object of violence. In this sense the props force a projection of ego that wouldn’t occur without.

    “Foreign” or inappropriate, is the idea that stays with us after leaving the photos. Juxtaposed are objects signifying destruction with humans who embody creation. The guns become our cultural absurdity, not because they’re used for pheasant hunting, but because they are designed and used for killing other humans.

    Annie Get Your Gun: Notes about the Exhibition: 1995

    In November of 1992, I went on a hunting trip on which I was the only woman in the group. I did not do much hunting in the sense of stalking the prey, instead I was completely preoccupied by the gun I carried. I was handling and using a gun for the first time. I studied how they positioned themselves with the gun, how they hung it loosely over their arm, pointing it downward, how they gripped it tightly across their chests and how they pulled it towards their bodies to aim. It was a language of gestures I mimicked.

    Afterwards, when I saw a photograph of myself taken on the trip, I was struck to see that the image was powerful—yet foreign. The work is a response to the experience of seeing myself hodling a gun and attempts to reconstruct an exploration of the self when a desire for empowerment is aroused.

    Annie Get Your Gun was a project in which 12 women (myself and other artists also concerned with concepts of identity and representation) came to my studio, one at a time to be photographed with guns. We identified ourselves in the way that we wanted to be represented by choosing our guns, clothing, accessories and poses.

    My intention through this work is not to glorify the gun or its users but to observe how identity can be constructed through relationships we maintin with certain archetypes of authority.

  • Even Onto China

    JAMELIE HASSAN
    April 13–May 13, 1995

    Even onto China is connected to a souvenir project I did for the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, Sept. 1993.

    Inspired by a miniature, the installation in the gallery space connects the ephemera of a circulating multiple, the hairpin souvenir, to the images around the seller/worker, street/market in Hong Kong, the site of transaction of the hairpin. A historical photo of the same site circa 1890’s is juxtaposed with my photos from 1993.

    Arabic Script

    The Arabic saying: ‘Seek Knowledge Even Onto China’ creates a geographical trajectory of philosophical orientation.

    The stairwell market of Hong Kong is very prominent physically in these images and links up with the stairwell character of Artspeak. Along the gallery’s stairway, glazed tiles with hand painted images are embedded into the plaster wall. These images reference details and fragments from Arabic manuscripts of the same period as the hairpin, 15th century.

Talks & Events

  • Catalogue Launch/Poetry Reading

    HADLEY HOWES, STEPHEN MAXWELL, SARAH WAKEFIELD
    March 18, 1999

    Artspeak Gallery will be hosting a catalogue launch for the exhibition Negotiating Desire with artists Hadley Howes and Stephen Maxwell, and poetry reading by Sarah Wakefield. This exhibition runs until March 20, 1999.

  • Performance and Publication launch

    CAROL SAWYER
    June 6, 1998

    Performance by Carol Sawyer, and the launching event of her publication “Amazonia”: both accompanying her exhibition “Amazon” at Artspeak Gallery.

  • Performance Series

    WARREN ARCAN
    February 26–March 5, 1998

    Warren will present three micro performances that may serve as demonstrations of his practice, an introduction to the possibilities of performance in general, and a jumping off point for potential dialogue with the students attending.

    The first will demonstrate a compositional approach to performance where, like a musician, a score is conceived and scored, but rather than a melody for guitar, the raw material will be the speech patterns of Vancouver street characters. This will show the possibilities of taking working methods from one medium and applying them to another.

    The second will be about the power of voice, and the limits of language in relation to sound making. In this piece, a short text will be repeated, broken down, taken apart and reconstructed to show what lies on the other side of it. Consider that whenever we say anything, it connects in innumerable ways to that which was said, will be said, and remains unsaid. To use a metaphor, any statement we make is like the front of a house. What’s in the alley? what’s in the basement? what’s buried in the foundations? There’s so much one needs to hide and put away and forget about in order to make any sense. And never mind about the operations language performs on us as we speak. Some hold that language is an organism. A virus. A virus from outer space.

    The third will be a short story describing an episode in the spiritual education of an urban aboriginal. In this piece, an attempt will be made to forge direct links with the members of the audience, or to determine the width of the gulf. This will demonstrate another aspect of performance, often called spoken word, and is perhaps one of the first places an emerging performance artist will begin.

    At this point, Warren will segue into further discussion performance by pointing out that although his work emerges from writing and theatre, other artists might come to performance as painters, sculptors, dancers, musicians, or architects. In this way, performance art might be seen as all the work an artist does that is not easily described or accounted within the framework of traditional media.

    At this point, time permitting, the open ended dialogue portion of the program will be underway, where the students may be dismissed, and an informal greet and chat session will be undertaken.

  • Artist Talk

    GHADA AMER
    January 13, 1998

    Ghada Amer is participating in French Kiss, an exhibition of five artists from France presented at the Contemporary Art Gallery and Artspeak Gallery. The talk will take place at the Contemporary Art Gallery space on January 13th, 1998.

  • Book Launch/Artist Talk

    SHIRIN NESHAT
    May 16, 1997

    Exhibition publication launch and artist talk in conjunction to Shirin Neshat’s “Women of Allah” show at Artspeak Gallery.

Publications

  • Negotiating Desire

    ND front
    ND back

    Title: Negotiating Desire
    Category: Exhibition Catalogue
    Artist: Hadley Howes, Stephen Maxwell
    Writers: Susan Edelstein, Kathleen Ritter, Sarah Wakefield
    Design: Roberta Batchelor, R-house
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Printer: A. J. Graphics Ltd.
    Year published: 1999
    Pages: 16pp
    Cover: Paper
    Binding: Staple Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: 7 duotone images
    Dimensions: 19.5 x 14 x 0.3 cm
    Weight: 57 g
    ISBN: 0-921394-32-2
    Price: $4 CDN

    Negotiating Desire combines the intimate collaborative work of emerging artists Hadley Howes and Stephen Maxwell with the poetry of Sarah Wakefield. All three practitioners have used the imagery of rubber, wood and fetish objects as a departure point to investigate the nature of desire. Foreword by Susan Edelstein, essay by Kathleen Ritter.

  • Amazonia

    Title: Amazonia
    Category: Artist Book
    Artist: Carol Sawyer
    Writers: Lorna Brown, Susan Edelstein, Carol Sawyer
    Editor: Jacqueline Larson
    Design: Roberta Batchelor
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Printer: S&T Stereo Printing, Chromatech Group
    Year published: 1998
    Pages: 28pp
    Cover: Paper
    Binding: Staple Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: 8 colour images
    Dimensions: 23 x 18 x 0.2 cm
    Weight: 77 g
    ISBN: 0-921394-28-4
    Price: $6 CDN

    The collaborative writing efforts of Lorna Brown, Susan Edelstein, and Carol Sawyer critically and humorously investigate femme fatale characters in popular culture.

  • French Kiss

    Title: French Kiss
    Category: Exhibition Catalogue
    Artist: Ghada Amer, Jean-Sylvain Bieth, Bernard Lallemand, Dany Leriche, Patrick Raynaud
    Writers: Michel Gaillot, Susan Edelstein, Keith Wallace
    Design: Alexandra Hass
    Publisher: Artspeak, Contemporary Art Gallery of Vancouver
    Printer: Hemlock Printers
    Year published: 1998
    Pages: 64pp
    Cover: Paper
    Binding: Perfect Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: 14 colour images, text in French and English
    Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 0.8 cm
    Weight: 185 g
    ISBN: 0-920751-67-9
    Price: $4 CDN

    A Bilingual catalogue produced in conjunction with the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver. Essays by Keith Wallace, Susan Edelstein and Michel Galliot critically examine each of the artists’ works in relation to the themes of sexuality, eroticism and perceptions of French culture.

  • Under The Skin

    Under front
    Under back

    Title: Under The Skin
    Category: Exhibition Catalogue
    Artist: Warren Murfitt, Kathy Slade
    Writers: Kati Campbell
    Editor: Susan Edelstein
    Design: Roberta Batchelor
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Printer: Electric Zoo
    Year published: 1997
    Pages: 11pp
    Cover: Paper
    Binding: Staple Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: 5 b&w images, 2 colour images
    Dimensions: 22 x 18 x 0.3 cm
    Weight: 45 g
    ISBN: 0-921394-27-7
    Price: $4 CDN

    Campbell’s essay investigates the work of Murfitt and Slade, identifying aspects of the body through signifiers of sexuality, femininity, and the architectural impact of sculpture.

  • Women of Allah

    Title: Women of Allah
    Category: Exhibition Catalogue
    Artist: Shirin Neshat
    Writers: Jacqueline Larson, Ahmad T.
    Editor: Susan Edelstein
    Design: Roberta Batchelor
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Printer: Stereo Printers
    Year published: 1997
    Pages: 31pp
    Cover: Paper
    Binding: Staple Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: 4 b&w images, 4 colour images
    Dimensions: 25 x 19 x 0.3 cm
    Weight: 160 g
    ISBN: 0-921394-27-6
    Price: $15 CDN

    Larson’s text gives a feminist analysis of Neshat’s work, while the voice of Ahmad T., an Iranian political dissident who lived through the Iranian revolution, counters the essay with personal experience.