Elizabeth Zvonar graduated from Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design in 2001. She has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Canada at Artspeak; Western Front; Contemporary Art Gallery; Mercer Union; Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery; Vancouver Art Gallery; Oakville Gallery; Presentation House; among others. Internationally in New York, Australia, Japan and Belgium. In 2008, Zvonar was the inaugural artist at the Malaspina Print Research Residency and was an artist in residence at the Banff Centre for the thematic Cosmic Ray Research. Zvonar received the 2009 City of Vancouver Mayor’s Award for Emerging Visual Artist; in 2011 she was presented with the Emily Award for outstanding achievement by an Emily Carr alumna. From 2012-15 Zvonar held the post of City of Vancouver Artist in Residence. Her work has been seen most recently in Canada in the group show On Stage, Recent Acquisitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery and in her solo presentations, I really do believe the best thing a person can do with themselves is expand their mind at Gallery 295, Vancouver and The Challenge of Abstraction at Daniel Faria Gallery in Toronto. Zvonar was the 2015 recipient of the Shadbolt Foundation’s VIVA Award.
June 6–July 18, 2015
Bear with me here, I am going to make an argument for the middle. Not as a space of mediocrity or stunted progression or where disappointment transitions into bitterness. But the other middle, the insides, the guts, the glue. If the things worth remembering are the highs and the lows, what about the middle that binds it altogether? We are in a moment in which beginnings seem naive and endings are too often depicted as tragic or apocalyptic. Maybe we got it all wrong, the middle is where the good stuff is, where the real things happen but also where real things are dismissed as banal and inconsequential. Where do the things worth forgetting go to grow old?
The original source material of these sculptures is a collection of video recorded moments, real things that occurred in the life of Erica Stocking and her family over the span of six months. The highs and the lows are present—birthdays and dinner parties and tears—but the compilation is mostly comprised of the middle, daily activities routinely left behind. The shapes and sounds that constitute her narrative morph in film, as they do in life and in memory. Stocking lifts patterns and forms that appear throughout, constructing a vocabulary for the collection from the architecture of her house, to her children’s artwork, to the most obvious reference of clothing. In previous work she has created new use value out of discarded materials from her home, and in a similar fashion this collection salvages moments potentially destined to disappear.
“There are so many bodies that request me to be a body. A confused body in the sense that it is a mirror body, a reflective body. A body of the surroundings. How do I be that body but let it be guided by the inner one and the inner conversation?” The presence of bodies (the other other middle) is implied in the structure of the clothes themselves—a stiff bend in a sleeve or underwear resistant to collapse. We define ourselves amongst the bodies around us. They carry the weight of our memories, they construct our lives. But these bodies are moving, each on their own timeline and trajectory. What happens when one body leaves or if not enough stay? When one is lost? When no one that remembers your childhood is left? Do you cease to exist? Or do you exist, but less? You begin to wonder how many things in the world are not discrete, things that are in fact defined by missing bodies, like parked cars and vacant benches.
It is uncertain what happens to bodies in the subtraction of time. Does the body become a vessel for memory? There is no intention of nostalgia in these clothes, nor should they (or bodies) be confused as props. They are not stand-ins or players tasked with telling a specific story. They are a ground to experience nothingness. They are real things that elicit jamais vu, operating in the neighbourhood of our actual experiences and memories but are completely unfamiliar. The intimate life of someone else is not ours to take, and here we are given real things that are replicas of replicas. What connects the real things, the insides, the guts, the glue, cannot be accessed. We grasp at strands of recognition, mining our pasts or our current lives that never feel private enough. We are reminded of a time when beginnings were not yet naive and when failure felt distant, when unrealistic expectations could still take root. When fingers could be extensions of toes.
We are not time, we inhabit it. Living in the middle is a very explicit habitation of time, so much so that we barely mark its passing. We are losing time all around us. But the might of insignificance is almost calming. It means we do not need to find what has been forgotten. It means choosing to participate in the living, the middle, the now.
These objects remember for her but it is possible she is remembering for us.
1 “Is not the experience of the thing and of the world precisely the ground that we need in order to think nothingness in any way whatever? Is not thinking the thing against the ground of nothingness a double error, with regard to the thing and with regard to nothingness, and by silhouetting it against nothingness, do we not completely denature the thing?” – Maurice Merleau-Ponty
The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the BC Arts Council.
August 1–September 1, 2007
Ongoing installation in Artspeak’s windows while the gallery and office are closed for August.
Investigating perception and the abstract aspects of knowledge, Elizabeth Zvonar’s practice is rooted in the experiential. Whether weighing in on the meaning of luck (good and bad), examining utopic and futuristic impulses (in the forms and symbols of yogic practices or within the nostalgia of youth and music cultures), her work troubles the distinctions between belief and so-called truth. Recently, Zvonar has been working with mirrors, glass and reflection in her consideration of perception and experience. Her paired mirrors create infinite reflections that both incite notions of the future as well as a slippage into the past. These reflective works provide a context for her most recent project at Artspeak.
Parallel Dimension approaches the instability of perceptual experience. Working with a glass bender, Zvonar will replace one of Artspeak’s storefront windows with a distorted duplicate. The installation will be on display round-the-clock for the month of August while the gallery is closed. The distortion created by Zvonar’s window will highlight and challenge the audience’s expectations of art-viewing, window-shopping and pedestrian browsing. The bowing of the window and the resulting distortion in both its transparency and reflection (in contrast to the expectation of the window as a stiff and straightforward material) suggests the warping of reality. This warping can be specifically linked to cinema and television and the inevitable caricaturization of “reality,” but can also extend to local social realities. The title evokes a quasi-futuristic universe, yet hinges on an antiquated notion of that future. In its focus on the experience of looking and its disruption of the expected, Zvonar’s Parallel Dimension open-endedly questions perceptual constructions and accepted knowledge.
Elizabeth Zvonar is a Vancouver based artist. Since graduating from Emily Carr Institute in 2001, her work has been shown in local, national and international exhibitions, including at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Cohan and Leslie Gallery, New York; Western Front Gallery; Vancouver; Queensland University of Technology; Brisbane; Geisai, Tokyo; and Consolidated Works, Seattle, amongst others.
The artist would like to thank Doug and Pat Healy of Seabird Bent Glass Ltd. for their assistance with this project.
ERICA STOCKING, ELIZABETH ZVONAR
June 20, 2015
Artists Erica Stocking and Elizabeth Zvonar will discuss Stocking’s solo exhibition at Artspeak, 2pm.