Jenni Pace is a doctoral candidate in Art History at UBC. Her research interests include the visualization of social housing within urban expansion schemes, and relational practices that challenge end-solution planning.
The Weight of Lives I’m Not Living
GUY BEN-NER, FABIOLA CARRANZA, NAUFUS RAMIREZ-FIGUEROA
March 31–May 12, 2012
This exhibition brings together the work of three artists who investigate how art can be at the service of life, raising ethical questions of where the distinguishing line is between art-making and personal and professional relations. Referencing language, tropicalism, and informal economies, the works examine the intimacy of familial relationships while constructing narratives on personal and geographic displacement. Included in the exhibition are video by Israeli artist Guy Ben-Ner (Tel Aviv); a large-scale sculpture by Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa (Vancouver/Guatemala City); and a pop-up jewellery consignment shop by Fabiola Carranza (Vancouver/Costa Rica).
Beginning in the early nineties, Guy Ben-Ner has produced a series of videos starring himself and his family, occasionally using the intimate spaces of their home as a makeshift set or, in his well known work Stealing Beauty (2007), having a domestic drama unfold in the showrooms at IKEA. With his children grown into adolescence and his divorce finalized, Ben-Ner’s more recent work expresses a life of wandering and the loss of a sense of belonging. Drop the Monkey (2009) expounds the difficulties of starting a new relationship and was made shot-by-shot in camera without external editing during twenty-five trips between Tel Aviv and Berlin over the course of a year. Shot in Hebrew and dubbed in English, Drop the Monkey presents a conversation in rhyme while overtly questioning the divide between art and personal relations. A screening of his works Second Nature (2008) and Wild Boy (2004) will take place on May 5th.
Two recurring concerns in Fabiola Carranza’s practice are the investigation of language and appropriation as an aesthetic strategy. Her work often focuses on the historical and cultural specificities of her source materials, exploring the tensions between privilege and impoverishment and between her adopted home of Vancouver and her home country of Costa Rica. For this exhibition, Carranza has constructed a modest consignment shop in the gallery to sell used wedding rings. The rings—remnants of relationships whose reasons for dissolution are not disclosed—are available for purchase for the duration of the exhibition.
The son of a former guerrilla fighter in the Guatemalan Civil War, Ramirez-Figueroa’s work delves into political violence, his experience as a refugee in Canada, and his personal difficulties with being a descendant of wealthy landowners. Despite the serious subject matter, his works are often tinged with absurdity and humour. In Bitch on a Bent Palm Tree (2011), Ramirez-Figueroa presents a horizontal tree with a dog perched on the trunk. The dog bears the face of Lynndie England, the former American soldier who was convicted in 2005 for her participation in the abuse and torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. The work pairs ideas of excess as they relate to empathy, while simultaneously acknowledging the tropics as a trope—a place of leisure, sex, luscious fruit, and endless natural resources.
Postscript 46:Jenni Pace on The Weight of Lives I’m Not Living (PDF)