Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pictures From Her(e)



On Tuesday I walked through the VAG's Pictures From Here exhibition. Although I was aware in advance of the artists included in the show, one never knows what one will see until one steps inside.

On that note, hanging outside the VAG's south face is an exhibition banner that uses Rodney Graham's Paddler, Mouth of the Seymour (2012-2013) not as the triptych it is, but the image therein. Could the VAG not have made a three-part banner consistent with the artist's work instead of simply displaying the image the artist worked with?

Something else that bothered me is Paul Wong's Vigil 5.4 (2010). This is the last work in the show (if one proceeds clock-wise), and employs video documentation Paul shot of Rebecca Belmore's 2002 Vigil performance at the Talking Stick Festival (Full Circle First Nations Performance), footage that Rebecca projected in its entirety onto a surface of lightbulbs as a subsequent work entitled The Named and the Unnamed (2002).

Now I know there is nothing wrong with an artist making work from the work of other artists, but there is something troubling about what Paul has made of Rebecca's performance documentation. While I have no doubt that Paul is supportive of Rebecca and her intentions, the means by which he expresses his support does not critique/transcend the gaze that contributes to the conditions that allow women to "go" missing or "get" murdered.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Good Morning, Midnight (1939)



In 1908 E.M. Forster published Room With a View, where the desired view is not of a courtyard but of a free and flowing river. Six years later Gertrude Stein published Tender Buttons (1914), a book that ends with "Rooms".

Another notable "room" writer is Jean Rhys, in particular her novel Good Morning, Midnight (1939). It opens with a room:

"Quite like old times," the rooms says. "Yes? No?"

There are two beds, a big one for madame and a smaller one on the opposite side for monsieur. The wash-basin is shut off by a curtain. It is a larger room, the smell of cheap hotels faint, almost imperceptible. The street outside is narrow, cobblestoned, going sharply uphill and ending in a flight of steps. What they call an impasse.

I have been here five days. I have decided on a place to eat in at midday, a place to eat in at night, a place to have my drink in after dinner. I have arranged my little life.

Monday, May 22, 2017


A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

Sei Shonagon was a 10th century Heian courtesan who kept a diary while serving the Empress Teishi (977-1000). A mix of "vignettes and opinions and anecdotes," according to her translator, Meredith McKinney. English readers know this diary as The Pillow Book (1001).

In 1996 Peter Greenaway made a film of it.

Here's something I fell asleep to last night:

[28] Things that make you feel cheerful -- A well-executed picture done in the female style,* with lots of beautifully written accompanying text around it.

* the female style: A painting done in the softer, sometimes tinted, "Japanese" style, as distinct from the bolder "Chinese" style known as the "male style". Here it is presumably part of an illustrated tale.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

PLAZA Projects



Made my first visit to Richmond's Aberdeen Centre mall last week to attend the opening of the New Collection group show at PLAZA Projects.

Fonder and director Steven Tong was there, of course, as were most of the artists and some of the mall's representatives.

I purchased a cotton abibas bag from Olga Abeleva and Shizen Jambor, saw the permanent installation of the latest version of Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson's The Night Times Press Bar (2016) and poked my head in on 7:30 Assemble's ongoing performance I didn't know the Blue Jays were from Mexico (2017).


But the biggest hit was the mall itself, with its many tiny shops, none of which are franchises. Amazing. Had me returning to the exhibition -- to look again.


Friday, May 19, 2017

History Painting




Allegory is not a problem. It has been with us, carried along with church and state, private and public capital, and the development of industrial processes. It has been readymade for some time. Suspended disbeliefs are fabricated and squeezed into tubular packaging, woven canvas pulled from looms of mass production, thin wood sheet layered, glued and heated together to form a rigid substrate for our pleasure. Allegory has history, a production value and the results are familiar.