"On this day in…"
March 5th 1996 -
Juicy, Cultivating Queer Culture: Emily Carr Group Show
"Juicy, Cultivating Queer Culture pulled a mini-coup by escaping the tiny orbit of ECIAD into the mega-universe of the Vancouver parallel gallery scene. i.e. a week at the grunt. But this upscale venue only exacerbates the nagging and oft-asked question, why a queer show - or why a show of work by queers - or why a show of queer work? To stick to the theme, what’s the value of a show on, around, about dykes, fags, bithings, trannies, and loser straights?
Well plenty, fuck face. ‘Cause it is interesting to ask, over and over, what defines this queer thing. I go to queer shows, and participate in them, because I want to see what a bunch of sexual miscreants can get up to , or down for, or on about. I’m interested for the same reason that I’m interested in what’s happening with the whole I-P scam. Basically, Juicy tempts you to believe that there may be something to queer (self) identity that actually links it up across individual expression. The short answer is, of course, that queerness is just as varied (and just as voluntary) in art as in life. So the value of the show, to belabour the point, is its unintentional detooling of the assumed inevitability of explicitly ‘sexual’ and/or victim imagery in so-called queer work. For some the revelation came off a bit flat. I heard more than one practiced scenester bemoan the loss of queerness as evidenced by the absence of sex. If the lesson of Juicy is, finally, that there ain’t much of a diff between breeders and their betters (at least in terms of art making), then what we’re left with is something of a minor crisis in identity politics - that institutionalized difference is maybe more like institutionalized privilege. A dangerous argument in the wrong hands.” (Andrew Power, Planet of the Arts, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design,Volume HI, issue 3+1= May/June 1996)
Artists who contributed: Diane Barbarash, Carla St. Pierre, Michael Bell, Carmen Schwartz, Damon Crain, Christopher Sheldon, Jacques Gaudet, Constanza Silva, Kine Gullberg, Teri Snelgrove, Chris Hamilton, Penny Treen, Krista Lee Hanson, Jonathan Wells, Robert Harper Jones, Robert H. Lawrence, Brain Langlands, Selena Liss, Karla Martinez, Allison MacFarlane, Allana Murray, Chris Nash, Andrew Powers
For more articles on this subject check out our (queer)intersections: vancouver performance in the 1990s site!
"On this day in…"
February 22nd 2008 - Rolande Souliere’s Materiality and Otherness
“Basic values and traditions of the Anishinaabe people continue to fuel my thinking and behaviour and this comes through visually in my artistic practice; through the material selection, through the various processes such as binding, weaving, knotting, threading, felting, etc. and lastly through the aesthetic. For example, aesthetically the traditional teaching of the Heyokah is made visual through the play of the inside outside relationship of the objects and reflects through the processes enlightened states of understanding.” (Rolande Souliere)
Upon closer inspection of Materiality, we see on two walls Souliere’s installation of feathered cones. A cluster of pieces on the left and a couple to the right, they are intricately fashioned to display like horny peacocks, those elaborate feathers in perfect rows. Inside are deeply colorful weavings of seemingly seamless proportions. They draw you in to see them closer and examine the pieces. However, a need to stand further back registers as if they would curiously retract if advanced upon. When confronted with her pieces, it’s as though you are forced to participate in a meditative chant. It pushes and pulls and breathes, finding your rhythm until you lose track of your breath. Perhaps the language she is using requires more context. (Skeena Reece - Brunt 2008)
Check out the full Skeena Reece article, page 29 here
Thoughts on Hannah Claus’s ‘Interface’, cultural identity, and colonization
While sorting, through, organizing, and attempting to make sense of grunt’s massive archive today, a particular exhibition captured my interest.
Hannah Claus’s ‘Interface’ explored the rise in popularity of decorative surfaces with the newly expanding middle class during the Victorian era - that period of time which represents the explosion of colonialism and the Industrial Revolution.
Claus explored this concept by using mud to create a Victorian wallpaper-style design on the wall of the gallery, and creating a small enclosure, comprised of rolls of paper silkscreened with the same design, encircling a pair of moccasins.
While actual photos of the installation were limited, I found myself fascinated by the installation’s central concept - how the other cultures, which in fact inspired many of the designs the era is famous for, were essentially decimated by the colonizing culture itself.
It got me thinking about, and questioning, the hidden histories behind the seemingly innocuous cultural symbols we encounter everywhere. For what, on the surface, could seem more commonplace, more European and bland, than the Victorian style florals and patterns that are so familiar to us? It surprised me in much the same way that the knowledge about where the signature points and curves of the Gothic period came from did; for they came from contact with the East.
It’s easy, for me at least, to forget just how mutable and fluid the standards, cultural and otherwise, that we take for granted are. It really is only through understanding the past that we can make sense of the world of today, in all its messiness and complexity.
"On this day in…"
February 14th 1989 - Julie A. Valenti’s Drawers of Life
"An avid recycler, her works form narratives that poke and pull fun from popular culture and institutions. They are insightful, witty and clever."
"Valenti says of her work ‘I look at my art as a natural outgrowth from my life long interest pattern and design, my almost compulsive sense of order and symmetry and my philosophical belief in recycling.’ This exhibition entitled Drawers of Life, features a series of drawers containing scenes and tableaus of imaginary settings that take jabs, reflect and speculate about our lives and concerns."
Happy Valentine’s Day from grunt! <3
"On this day in…"
February 9, 2001
On this day in 2001, artist Alberto Friggo staged a performance in which the audience interacted with a recording he had previously made, which was in turn recorded, to be exhibited alongside the original at a later date.
As the title, Gnocchi, suggests, Friggo made a video recording of himself preparing a pot of the potato-based Italian specialty. Then, as the audience consumes what he produced, they watch the recording of the pasta being prepared. This reaction is itself recorded, thus forming the work’s final iteration: the two videos being played alongside each other.
Exploring consumption, spectatorship, and the reaction of the subject to being observed, this work is a continuation of Friggo’s exploration of performance art, video art, and the possible interactions between the two.
"On this day in…"
February 9, 2001 - Tomoyo Ihaya’s Garden of Life/Chart of Animism
“Because of my deep desire to explore the origins and co-existence of all living things, I have a long lasting interest in such subjects as the philosophy of animism, folklore, mythology, and the natural environment. Through daily contemplation, fascinating symbols of cosmos, natural objects, and old artifacts occur repeatedly in my mind. I communicated with them and interpret them visually on paper. Then, each symbol starts relating to the others through channels that together create a chart of wholeness.” (Tomoya Ihaya)
This exhibition features long patch paper murals combining mixed media techniques of papermaking, painting, staining, printmaking and collage and explores animist imagery from folklore and mythologies. Ihaya’s work is based in printmaking techniques of etching and chine colle. Her work evokes the natural world and uses archetypal images in a new and exciting way.
"On this day in…"
January 31st 1989 - Phil Switzer’s Creations in Vitro
”Technology constantly creates new materials for industry and artists often adapt these products for artistic expression. The creation of silicone as a caulking for bathroom sinks has become a popular medium for a number of British Columbia artists. Styrofoam has a number of uses in industry, including insulation, packaging and display materials. Film and television companies have used styrofoam in set design for several decades. As a lightweight, workable material that can easily imitate wood, stone and other materials it’s advantage in temporary applications are obvious. It’s fragility makes long term application more difficult.
Switzer has worked in set design for television, film and theatre since the late 50s. Over this period he has had extensive workings with styrofoam and has developed a proficiency in realizing the material’s limits. These sculptures he has encased in plastic plexiglass that protects the figure and furthers the use of high tech materials aesthetic. His combination of elemental form and manmade materials is useful in expressing the human condition in the late 20th Century. That he uses the temporary material to produce sculptures of pregnant women furthers it’s symbolisms.” (grunt)
"On this day in…"
January 25th 2007 - ATSA Attack #15
"Attack #15 consisted of a Sports Utility Vehicle, which had been installed on a city street, still fuming from its destruction. Inside, an audio-visual manifesto played continuously. This hyper-realistic scene and the accompanying video incriminated-all at once- the automobile industry, consumers and governments. The audience-passerby were engaged in a ‘destabilizing and unequivocal experience whose graphic violence will heighten the public’s awareness of the perverse effects of the veneration of these gas-guzzling, power-hungry vehicles.’ Since Attentat #10, the Attacks have been accompanied by the distribution of Citizen’s Statement of Offence." (brunt magazine)
"ATSA (Action Terroriste Socialement Acceptable) is an organization founded in 1997 by artists Pierre Allard and Annie Roy to create urban interventions: installations, performances and realistic stagings bearing witness to the various social and environmental aberrations which preoccupy the two artists. Their works investigate and transform the urban landscape and restore the citizen’s place in the public realm, depicting it as a political space open to discussion and societal debates. ATSA promotes sustainable development of their society." (brunt magazine)
"On this day in…"
January 18th 2002 - Different/Diverse - Paolo Ravalico Scerri
"Difference is closely associated with being an outsider, and attached to individuals or groups that do not conform to the norm. There are many negative aspects that usually posit difference, as ‘wrong’ or as a threat to society. But art has always celebrated difference as something good, innovative and diverse. Difference is basically something good: what is different fruit in the market, a different suit in a shop window, a different lover in your bed can be - at varying levels of excitement - good things. Difference initiated the powerful trick of Evolution: the natural selection, mindless but powerfully has succeeded thanks to the wealth provided by the multitudinous differences in nature. We are ‘naturally’ attracted by what we perceive as different, although judgement of it is suspended until our senses and our brains have assessed and dismissed possible hazards." (grunt)
Different/Divers was curated by Vittorio Urbani and Terry Smith and brought together European video artists from the UK, Finland, Estonia and Italy. The program explored the notions of normalcy and the abnormal. The screenings were co-hosted by grunt and the Western Front and gave a strong look at the what was happening in European video practice at the time.
Different/Divers brings together European video artist from the UK, The screening and exhibitions give a strong look at current European video practice.
"On this day in…"
January 12th 1993 - Polly Bak’s “A Good Hearted White Girl’s Search for Identity”
"If we are to proceed and not keep repeating old patterns, we must all make ourselves uncomfortable and question whether any of our assumptions are true. What I assume is normal or ordinary is not normal or ordinary for those who have less mobility than I.
Because I am the same colour as the powerful, some people will (consciously or unconsciously) act on their perception of me as the more powerful. This has nothing to do with how I perceive myself.
And, sometimes I will take this privilege for granted and use it.
I do not feel the pain of racism. I cannot help heal a pain I do not feel unless I follow the lead of those who do feel it. Yes, I feel the pain of living in a distorted society, but if I choose I can live with this pain permanently on some back burner. Some do not have this choice.” (Polly Bak - A Good-Hearted White Girl’s Search for Identity - pg.13)
Spotted this sign “Development Abomination No.6” while at the Rainbow Connection this past weekend. It instantly brought to mind Kathryn Walter’s “Redevelopment: An Intervention”, exhibited at grunt in 1989.
Walter’s work used language from romance novels as a way of emphasizing the domination of city space by real estate developers.
"From the Archives…"
Mix - The Magazine of Artist-Run Culture
Sorel Cohen’s Todesfuge (above photo)
slide projections over photos
Photo: courtesy of the artist
Found Missing: Archival Photographs and the New Historicity
February 9 through March 9, 1996
"This is an exhibition of portraits of women by Sorel Cohen, Moira Egan, Nina Levitt and Cheryl Simon. The works in Found Missing: Archival Photographs and the New Historicity participate in a feminist critique that is transforming social readings of women. The work commands a respectful attention that stands in stark contradistinction to the lived experiences of the women represented in the photos. Originally, the pictures were intended to represent the likenesses of particular individuals, but they are not so much personal portraits as photographs of women who have been punitively assigned one-dimensional status: sexualized women, lesbian women, Jewish women, missing women. Seen through a larger frame they may be understood as women who have a sexuality, or women who choose same- sex partners, women who are Jewish, or women who have gone missing and are missed. Through recontextualization the photos become more than documentary evidence of particular people, exceeding biography. They also inquire into the very processes of stigmatization and oppression. This readmission into legitimate regard creates and sustains an enlarged social frame. Like contemporary identity discourses these works recuperate suppressed and denigrated aspects of women’s experience, and rein scribe the subject positions of historically marginalized lives.” - Cheryl Sourkes
"On this day in…"
December 6 1988 - Gary Ross’ Animate Objects
”Garry Ross’ objects are easy to dismiss. As objects of contemplation each piece waits quietly for the discovery that effects transformation in both viewer and object. Many of the pieces start as objects culled from industrial sites. Often they are machine parts, patters or hardware with a function originating in urban industrial sites. Most wear the scars of their former life prominently. Often they are machine parts, patterns or hardware with a function originating in urban industrial culture. They are old and for the most part obsolete.
By changing the context in which the object is seen, the former use is nullified, and takes on a transformed meaning. The manipulation of meaning through contextual change and the use of the found manufactured object has been a major direction of consumer and manmade elements into the realm of art. Ross subtly alters these elements by transforming the mechanical into a pastoral where they become like a river or a mountain and the contemplation of which brings forth a multiplicity of meanings which speak to the metaphysical.” (grunt)
"From the archives…"
"POSITIVE+ was an initiative that looked at the changing face of HIV a the time when the new drug cocktails were giving people an extended lease on life. The project, which ran in the fall of 1997, consisted of a series of exhibitions, and a series of performances and events - many allowing full public participation. The project began in the spring of 1997 with a series of roundtables discussing readings Brice Canyon had put together for the group. The readings gave a theoretical and activist history of the AIDS crisis since its advent ten years before. These roundtables focused on many issues and were instrumental in defining the works that were shown in the fall.
Grunt partnered with the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre, Video In, the Helen Pitt Gallery and Gulf Islands Film and Television School for this initiative. POSITIVE+ came on the heels of HALFBRED in 1995, which focused on miscgenated, bisexual and transgendered artists, though the earlier project didn’t have the public engagement elements that defined POSITIVE+” (grunt) - Live in Public: The Art of Engagement
"On this day in…"
July 8th 2011 - Immony Men’s “Taking Care of Business”
"Taking Care of Business" was a performance/installation that lasted the run of the exhibition from July 8th to July 26th. Immony Men created a multi-wall, floor-to-ceiling mural of an office space made entirely out of post-it notes. Immony Men spent each day working 9-5, printing out a view of an office, one post-it note at a time, until the main walls of grunt were filled.
"I am mesmerized by the drudgery of daily office routine. The pattern I have established in the creation of these kinds of murals attempts to replicate this drudgery. The performance aspect of my work is the actual construction of the mural. I want the raw elements behind the creation of the project to be in the forefront: the physical space taken up, the artist’s repetitive movements, the materials used in full evidence. By subjecting myself to a mind-numbing process, I will also create and exhibit the mental state fallen into in performing iterative tasks" (Immony Men)