Sydney Vermont

Sydney Vermont is a Vancouver based artist. Since graduating from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2000 her work has been included in exhibitions across Canada and in Tokyo. She has a BA in literature from Dalhousie University (1993) and studied at the Ecole Nationale Superiéure des Beaux-Arts in Paris (1999). She was the Director/Curator of the Or Gallery from 2002 to 2005.


  • L’Human Comedy

    July 22–September 3, 2005

    The work of Vancouver artist Sydney Vermont proceeds by a series of idiosyncratic steps, circling back on references and leaping forward to surprising conclusions. Establishing her work in literary and art historical groundings, Vermont’s research is open-ended and often spawns a series of autonomous projects that can be traced back to a larger investigation. Attempting to maintain a secondariness of auteurship, Vermont unfolds ideas through a variety of processes, including music, sculpture, drawing, performance, video and specifically in the case of L’Human Comedy, dance.

    L’Human Comedy is comprised of a sound piece and video. Both of the works focus on a morality of reduction, in a minimalist and physical sense. Taking Honoré de Balzac’s Eugènie Grandet (1833) as a starting point, Vermont has traced the story through Donald Barthelme’s minimalist short story of the same name from the 1970s, with a particular focus on the block of text that repeats the word butter:




    Butter is a luxury item as well as a final reduction of a substance, and the narrative uses it to speak to rebellion and humiliation. In Barthelme’s story, Eugenie Grandet is making an éclair for her cousin Charles with whom she is in love. Her wealthy, miserly father will not allow her to exceed their allotted amount of butter for the month.

    The video work takes its cue from the butter chorus to be found on Artspeak’s telephone message and applies it to human theatre. In collaboration with Sciencefriction Productions, Vermont created a series of nine short dance pieces with dancers dressed in yellow. Each piece ends in a physical pile not unlike the piling of the butter text in Barthelme’s story. The video can be viewed in Artspeak’s window.

    This exhibition can be viewed from the street and heard on Artspeak’s telephone message while the gallery is closed.

    The artist would like to thank the following for their assistance with this project:

    Choreography: Science Friction Productions, Shannon Moreno and Farley Johansson, in collaboration with Sydney Vermont

    Dancers: Thomas Anfield, Amber Barton, Jo Jo Zolina, Katy Harris-Mcleod, Shannon Moreno, Farley Johansson, Science Friction Productions

    Videography and Post Production: Joshua Olson and Ian Barbour

    Wardrobe: Heidi Nutley

    Sound on telephone: The Von Hermant family singers

    Invitation design: Sarah Edmonds