Kathleen Ritter

Kathleen Ritter (b. 1974) is an artist and a writer based in Vancouver. Her research and practice investigate institutional structures that surround and mediate the reception of art. Her work has been exhibited at Modern Fuel, Kingston ON (2008); the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa ON (2008); Western Front, Vancouver (2004); Skol, Montreal (2000); and Access, Vancouver (2000). Her writing has been published in the anthology Places and Non-Places of Contemporary Art (2005) and the journals Prefix Photo, ESSE, Open Letter, and Fillip Magazine. She curated Expect Delays (2003) at Artspeak, a series of artist’s interventions that took place throughout Vancouver. She is currently Assistant Curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery.


  • Persistence of Vision

    June 11–July 23, 2011

    Holly Ward, em>Persistence of Vision</em>, 2011

    Holly Ward, em>Persistence of Vision</em>, 2011

    Holly Ward, em>Persistence of Vision</em>, 2011

    Holly Ward, em>Persistence of Vision</em>, 2011

    Holly Ward, em>Persistence of Vision</em>, 2011

    Holly Ward’s interdisciplinary practice is centred on ideas surrounding social progress and political power, and serves to examine the role of art within this. In Persistence of Vision, Ward investigates symbolic strategies of resistance and the use of utopian discourse as a starting point for revolution. The exhibition creates a linkage between contemporary spaces of protest and historical representations of the “utopian” city square. Featuring new sculptural and print work, the exhibition is an extension of Ward’s ongoing interest in social engagement and the utopian imaginary.

    Postscript 43:Jeff Derksen on Holly Ward (PDF)

  • On the Beach

    October 20–November 24, 2007

    This exhibition takes the eerily quiet apocalyptic theme of On the Beach, a 1957 best-selling novel by Nevil Shute, as a starting point. The novel (and the later 1959 film) is set on the coast in Australia where the last global citizens must come to terms with the fact that all life will be destroyed in a matter of months due to the effects of atomic war. Shute’s novel intertwines notions of leisure and hopelessness, and makes simultaneous reference to a strange atmosphere of holiday and the fact that the beach is an edge, a last frontier for an unseen end. Taking this theme as a foundation, the exhibition will bring together works by contemporary artists Kristan Horton and Taras Polataiko, and photographic documents from the Vancouver City Archives of WWII invasion drills and leisure activities on Vancouver beaches by Don Coltman and Jack Lindsay.

    Horton’s banner, Repeating Half-Frame, takes the form and language of comic books. The work uses text that appears to terminate before revelation, evoking an unresolved loop. “To save the world… what is required… rests simply… on the idea… that certain… constraints… exist…” However, the work resists a pessimistic view, leaving the solution open. Polataiko’s photograph, 100 Days to Demobilization, is a gesture of counting down. Based on the artist’s experience in the army in which soldiers would inscribe the number of days left of service in the butter spread on their breakfast bread before eating it, the work reflects an unseen end. Like Horton’s work, Polataiko’s photograph lies between the future and the past, between resolution and failure. Together with the photographs by Don Coltman (Steffens-Colmer Ltd.) and Jack Lindsay, these works offer a way to consider the current global climate in relationship to diversion and catastrophe.

    KRISTAN HORTON is a Toronto based artist whose work is inspired by popular culture, particularly film. He studied at Guelph University and the Ontario College of Art and Design. His work has been shown at Glassbox, Paris; ZKM, Karlsruhe; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Inter Communications Center, Tokyo; Wynick/Tuck Gallery, Toronto; York University Art Gallery; and Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. His work is represented by Jessica Bradley Art + Projects in Toronto.

    TARAS POLATAIKO is a Vancouver based artist, born in Chernivtsi, Ukraine. He studied at Stroganov Museum of Fine and Industrial Arts, Moscow and the University of Saskatchewan. His work–which is conceptually based and often explores political history and memory–has been shown at the Musee d’art Contemporain de Montreal; 25th Sao Paulo Bienale; Soros International Centre for Contemporary Art, Kiev; Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw; Antoni Tapies Foundation, Barcelona; National Museum of Lithuania, Kaunas; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade; Art Gallery of Hamilton; Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon; and Lombard-Freid Fine Arts, New York.

    Artspeak would like to thank the Vancouver Foundation for their support of this project, as well as Ramada Limited Downtown and the Vancouver City Archives.

    Postscript 32: Kathleen Ritter on On The Beach (PDF)

  • Expect Delays

    April 1–May 30, 2003

    Curated by Kathleen Ritter

    The city of Vancouver is characterized by its constantly shifting infrastructure and accelerated development. Pedestrian routes change, pristine parks are developed long before people inhabit them, up-scale residential developments are placed on the periphery of red-light districts that are awaiting gentrification, and buildings are constructed further into the inlets and waterways that divide the city’s regions. Alongside this, one notes that the codes of behaviour in social and urban space in this city are much more restricted and surveilled than in other locales. The ranges of acceptable activities in public space are limited. Private security initiatives (Gastown security guards, Vancouver’s Downtown Ambassadors) are employed to patrol the streets and act as the ‘eyes and ears’ for the police. And unlike other cities, there are few urban spaces where groups of people can gather, protest or create a public forum. In light of these characteristics, artists face a challenge to create work in the streets of Vancouver that successfully negotiates the regulation of public space and yet, not go unnoticed or be too easily dismissed. These challenges, however, create an opportunity for work to hold greater meaning and significance in a city where these issues continue to be relevant.

    Expect Delays is a series of off-site projects organized by Artspeak that take place in locations throughout the city of Vancouver in April and May of 2003. Eight artists from across Canada have been invited to create public infiltration works that use modest engagements in daily life to critically investigate the social conventions, pedestrian movement and regulation of public space. Using strategies of humour, unpredictability and gestures of generosity, these artists propose alternative ways to view the city and negotiate public space. Rooted in the tradition of intervention/performance/infiltration-based practice, Expect Delays is intended to expand our definitions of public art as not simply the act of situating art in public spaces, but the process by which art and ideas enter public consciousness.

    Expect Delays is supported by The Canada Council for the Arts through the Inter Arts Program and the British Columbia Arts Council. Community partners for Expect Delays include the Ramada Limited Downtown Vancouver, the Fine Arts and Music Division of the Vancouver Public Library, the Roundhouse Community Centre, Video In, Blake’s Bistro and Access Artist Run Centre.

  • Boys and Girls Welcome!

    March 25–May 6, 2000

    Just in from the corner of Nanaimo and First sits a deadpan clapboard structure, its windowless facade contradicting the friendly handpainted Boys and Girls Welcome! sign that is tacked where a window ought to be. Photographed in isolation and printed in deeply saturated colour this forgettable building becomes embued with a sinister innocence. This image is one of a series of cibachrome prints presented in a first solo exhibition by Alan Hoffman. His enlargements of vernacular architecture in Vancouver and his hometown Penticton hover between nostalgia and unease. The gas stations, motor motels and churches at first appear to be architectural models or miniatures, perhaps model train environments. In recognizing the Ridge Theatre or Penticton’s giant peach it becomes clear that the curiously distorted sense of scale and euphemized colour are technically accomplished representations of the familiar landmarks and architectural oddities of Vancouver neighbourhoods and Okanagan tourist destinations.

    Hoffman has chosen to photograph the clumsy manifestations of lowbrow aspirations—not the grandiose failures of Vancouver modernism so comprehensively covered by this city’s more senior artists. His work escapes ‘the quaint’ and resists ‘the serious’ simultaneously as it fails to allow easy entry into the ‘reality’ it pictures.

    anarchive 02

    Breukleman, Jim; Laurence, Robin “Hot Properties”, Presentation House Gallery: North Vancouver, 1987.

    Adrian, Robert; Arngn’naaq, Ruby; Butler, Jack; Campbell, Kati; Esch, Deborah; Falk, Lorne; MacInnis, Neil; Miller, Bernie; Moylan, Tom; Robert, Jocelyn; Urban, Colette. “The City Within”. Jeanne Randolf, ed.: The Banff Centre, 1992.

    Graham, Rodney; Kleyn, Robert; Linsley, Robert; Sinclair, Jennifer Oille; Smithson, Robert; Snider, Greg. “Some Detached Houses”. Bill Jeffries, Cur. Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, 1990.

    Haraldsson, Arni; Kleyn, Robert. “Project on Vancouver Architecture and Landscape”. Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver, 1995.

    Sekula, Allan; Dufour, Gary; O’Brian, John. “Geography Lesson: Canadian Notes”. Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, 1997.

    Crewdson, Gregory; Morrow, Bradford; Steinke, Darcey. “Dream of Life”. Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca, Spain, 1999.

    Group Exhibition. “Mois de la Photo à Montréal, 1999”. Organized by VOX, Montréal, 1999.

    Hoffman, Alan. “Fourteen Stories”. Self-published. Vancouver, 1996.

    Whitehead, Gary. “I Can Fix Anything”. Arsenal Pulp Press: Vancouver, 1994.

    Derksen, Jeff. “Until”. Downtime Talonbooks: Vancouver, 1990

    Coady, Lynn. “Nice Place to Visit” Play the Monster Blind. Doubleday: Toronto, 2000

    Speak, Dorothy. “The View From Here” Object of Your Love. Somerville House: Toronto, 1996

    Gom, Leona. excerpt from “Zero Avenue”. Douglas & McIntyre: Vancouver, 1989

    Trujillo Lusk, Dorothy. “Sentimental Intervention” Writing 25. Kootenay School of Writing: Vancouver, 1990.

  • Negotiating Desire

    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

Talks & Events

  • Publication Launch/Video Screening

    April 6, 2001

    Artspeak Gallery will host the launching event for the publication accompanying the exhibition titled A Set of Suspicions, as well as a video screening of one of the show’s artists, Teri Snelgrove, part of Suspects (Performance for the Police).

  • Catalogue Launch/Poetry Reading

    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.


  • Every Force Evolves A Form

    EEFVA front
    EEFVA back

    Title: Every Force Evolves a Form
    Category: Artist Book
    Artist: Holly Ward
    Writers: Kathleen Ritter, Jeff Derksen, Laura Piasta
    Editor: Kim Nguyen
    Design: Post Projects
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Printer: Paper Chase Printing
    Year published: 2012
    Edition: 200
    Pages: 48pp
    Cover: Paper
    Binding: Perfect Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: 26 colour images
    Dimensions: 20.5 x 20.5 x 0.5 cm
    Weight: 159 g
    ISBN: 978 -0-921394-64-8
    Price: $6

    This catalogue is published in conjunction with Holly Ward’s exhibition Persistence of Vision. It features the artist in conversation with Kathleen Ritter, an extended essay by Jeff Derksen and a text on recreating a glass symphony by Laura Piasta.

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  • Retrospect

    Retro backRetro spineRetro front

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

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

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

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  • A Set of Suspicions

    Title: A Set of Suspicions
    Category: Exhibition Catalogue
    Artist: Warren Arcan, Shelley Guhle, Daniel Jolliffe, Janice Kerbel, Jocelyn Robert, Josh Schafer, Teri Snelgrove, Susan Stewart
    Writers: Lorna Brown, Randy Lee Cutler, Denis Gautier, Kathleen Ritter
    Design: Steedman Design
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Printer: Rainbow Press Ltd., Vancouver
    Year published: 2001
    Pages: 64pp
    Cover: Paperback
    Binding: Perfect Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: 3 b&w images, 46 colour images, plastic jacket cover
    Dimensions: 11.5 x 20 x 1.2 cm
    Weight: 153 g
    ISBN: 0-921394-33-0
    Price: $10 CDN

    A Set of Suspicions documents a series of three exhibitions over the Fall 2000 season by artists investigating ideas of threat, security and surveillance. The works used the gallery space to index specific off-locations: the proposed street cameras just beyond our doors; the hyper-watched financial district of London, England; a university biotech lab; and the mobile ‘watching machines’ that orbit the earth. A Set of Suspicions integrates visual art, writing, video, performance, electronics design and music composition to consider the proliferation of technology, privacy and public identities as well as cultural habits of interpretation.

    Designed by Judith Steedman, A Set of Suspicions includes photographic documentation of the three exhibitions, writing by Lorna Brown, Randy Lee Cutler, Denis Gautier and Kathleen Ritter. An artist’s project, Improper Perspectives, by Allyson Clay was produced for A Set of Suspicions.

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  • Boys and Girls Welcome

    BGW front
    BGW spine
    BGW back

    Title: Boys and Girls Welcome
    Category: Exhibition Catalogue
    Artist: Alan Hoffman
    Writers: James Baker, Neil Besner, Lorna Brown, Derek Fairbridge, Adrienne Lai, Henry Lehmann, Jonathan Middleton, Kathleen Ritter, Sharon Romero, Adam Lewis Schroeder, Sam Shem, Reid Shier and John Wertschek
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Year published: 2000
    Pages: 20pp
    Cover: Paper
    Binding: Round Head Brass Fastener
    Process: Offset
    Dimensions: 11.5 x 11 x 0.8 cm
    Weight: 29 g
    Price: Not available

    A special poster/catalogue project featuring the responses of the following artists and writers to Alan Hoffman’s photographs: James Baker, Neil Besner, Lorna Brown, Derek Fairbridge, Adrienne Lai, Henry Lehmann, Jonathan Middleton, Kathleen Ritter, Sharon Romero, Adam Lewis Schroeder, Sam Shem, Reid Shier and John Wertschek. This project is made possible through the generous contribution of James Baker and Stacey Noyes.

  • Negotiating Desire

    ND front
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    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.

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