Marina Roy is Vancouver-based artist and writer whose work explores the intersection between language and visual art. She received her BA in French Literature at Université Laval, a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and her MFA from the University of British Columbia. She has shown nationally and internationally, including the Vancouver Art Gallery, Contemporary Art Gallery, the Or Gallery Berlin, Gallery Sumukha, Chennai & Bengaluru, India, and Chisenhale Gallery, London. Roy was recipient of the VIVA award in 2010. In 2001 she published sign after the x (Artspeak/Arsenal Pulp Press), a book that revolves around the letter X and its multiple meanings. She is currently working on the next book, titled Queuejumping. She is Associate Professor of Visual Art at the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia.
A curator and writer based in San Francisco, where she is Curator and Head of Programs at the CCA Wattis Institute. Nguyen was formerly Director/Curator of Artspeak from 2011-2016. Her writing has appeared in exhibition catalogues and periodicals nationally and internationally, with recent texts in catalogues published by Pied-à-Terre (San Francisco), Gluck 50/Mousse (Milan), and the Herning Museum of Art (Denmark). Nguyen is the recipient of the 2015 Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for Emerging Curators in Contemporary Canadian Art and the 2016 Joan Lowndes Award from the Canada Council for the Arts for excellence in critical and curatorial writing.
Once things are reduced to nothing…
August 1–August 31, 2013
Ongoing installation in Artspeak’s windows while the gallery and office are closed for August.
“ONCE THINGS ARE REDUCED TO NOTHING THEY BEG YOU TO BE CONSCIOUS OF THEM AND ASK YOU TO COLONIZE THEM. THEIR LIFE HANGS BY NOTHING MORE THAN THE THREAD OF YOUR ATTENTION.”
—Bruno Latour, The Pasteurization of France (1988)
Marina Roy’s new work brings Bruno Latour’s words into relation with a new site of viewing. Two sentences escape their original context within a book to collide with subjects who would not encounter the words otherwise. The words take on new meaning through their placement on the window, but also through imagery collaged on the reverse of the vinyl text, resulting in alternate networks of relations. The letters and words become hybrid creatures. This gesture is one of supplementing, but also of the aide-memoire. To memorize an author’s words by inserting them into an unfamiliar visual frame, associating them with a new picture, translating and materializing them within a lived situation.
Why “things”? Things are not just things as we have come to objectify them. For Latour they have agency. Things refer to a more ancient meaning of “assembly” or “gathering.” It relates to things of concern; that which brings people together to discuss what binds and divides them. Roy’s work is no exception—it is a gathering of particular things with public issues in mind. There are the actual materials used: vinyl film, window glass, temporary wall, and mirror; then there is the formation of the text and representational imagery from vinyl material, and how the text and imagery reveal themselves. The things represented on the underside of the text illustrate a procession of “colonized” objects and humans, subservient to the forces of consumerist culture. This procession of things is floating on an abstract amalgam of “leftovers”—the pieces of vinyl left over once the process and application of cutout imagery is complete.
In aspiring to a democratization of relations between human and non-human entities, Latour outlines how things can enter into complex new relations. In his book We Have Never Been Modern (1991), Latour claims that, under the purview of a symmetrical anthropology, the destruction and repression of nature and other cultures are no longer the aim, as it was under the modernist project. Nature and culture are no longer separated by the Great Divide. They all become part of the Middle Kingdom of quasi-objects and quasi-subjects. “It is time, perhaps, to speak of democracy again, but of a democracy extended to things.”