The Helen Pitt Gallery Artist Run Centre is pleased to be hosting this exhibition in conjunction with Gallery 101 in Ottawa as part of BC Scene and gratefully acknowledges the participation of Raymond Boisjoly, Karina Bergmans, Jen Cook, Steven Hubert, Roy Lu, Sara Mameni, Isabelle Pauwels, Minh Nguyen, Stephan Thompson and Ron Tran.
In considering the taxonomical impulse implicit in the desire to identify and group artists together according to regional identity, the parameters for this exhibition suspend comparative analysis of works that are exemplary of the participating artists’ practices. Instead of an emphasis on what these artists usually make, this exhibition gives evidence of disparities in the way these artists think.
Restricted to the space of three standard letters sized pieces of paper, the five Vancouver artists and five Ottawa artists in this show were asked to provoke, instruct, direct or lead each other as unknown colleagues in the production of a new work. From the outset, the participating artists were informed that both sets of these instructional documents would be displayed in the concurrent exhibitions. However, the work resultant from the received instructions would be displayed only in the artist’s “home” gallery. In other words, should a viewer see this show at Gallery 101 in Ottawa, they will see facsimiles of both the Ottawa and Vancouver artist’s instructions, but only what an Ottawa artist has made of a Vancouver artist’s ideas.
The instructional documents submitted by each artist vary in their approach and authoritativeness. Some are poetic, setting impossible or loosely defined tasks. Others are almost excessively step-by-step and diagrammatical. It is typical in the working methodologies of many contemporary artists for the idea of an artwork to be sketched out before entering into the production stage. Typically, such instructions are passed on to a craftsperson or labourer who is usually expected to execute them exactingly if not unquestioningly. (Consider the legacy of minimalist sculpture, where in many instances industrial manufacture was absolutely essential to the materialization of an artist’s idea.)
Upsetting this paradigmatic thinker/maker relationship, the artists are free to critically evaluate and in some sense rescue each idea from the unadulterated labour of its execution. Granted the autonomy to reject, salvage, interpret or submit to the received instructions, what is finally produced in either exhibition space is not the result of co-operative collaboration. In fact, these pairings might more accurately be described as a form of criticism. The discrepancy between each set of instructional documents and the works they have spurred is an indication of the points of departure each artist has taken in making the idea align with their individual approaches to the production of art.
We would like to thank all participating artists for generously and perhaps nervously relinquishing some authorial control while simultaneously working so thoughtfully through this project. The complex responses they have contributed help to sustain rather than resolve the questions engendered by the conceptual parameters of this exhibition.
Raymond Boisjoly works in Vancouver, BC. He has participated in recent group exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery (Vancouver), Crawl Space Gallery (Seattle), the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery (Vancouver) and Organ Gallery (Chongqing, China). He has also published visual and written work in Pyramid Power and Woo. Raymond studied at The University of British Columbia and Emily Carr Institute.
Steven Hubert is a Kelowna-born Vancouver-based artist who graduated from Emily Carr Institute in 2007. Bearing the imprint of previous study in English literature, his work in painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and video takes cues from poetics with a backsplash of history that is partly logical, partly mystical, and perforated by alternating bouts of the simple and the complex. It is often absurdly expansionistic and lacks clarity due to its chronic and programmatic mistaking of one idea for another, for example. He has exhibited at CSA Space, Or Gallery, Helen Pitt Gallery, Shudder Gallery, LES gallery, Eyelevel Gallery (Halifax), Jeffrey Boone Gallery, and has upcoming shows at Café for Contemporary Art (North Vancouver), Ministry of Casual Living (Victoria), and 2of2 Gallery (Toronto). His work has appeared in Pyramid Power and The Fillip Review. He was also the recipient of the 2008 Painting on The Edge grand prize.
Sara Mameni Born 29/03/1977; debts $50000 (and growing); 2008 tax return $734.56; debit card # 5872971307****; moving to San Diego in September.
Born in West Flanders, Belgium, Isabelle Pauwels lives and works in Vancouver, BC. She studied sculpture at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, and completed her graduate studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she integrated video into her practice. Recently she has shown at Blackwood Gallery, Mississauga; Artspeak, Vancouver; and Presentation House Gallery in North Vancouver.
Ron Tran was born in Saigon, Vietnam and currently lives and works in Vancouver, BC. He graduated from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2004 and has exhibited at Lawrence Eng Gallery (Vancouver) Neon Gallery (Sweden), Artspeak (Vancouver), the Seattle Art Museum, Western Front (Vancouver), Norwich Gallery (England), Charles H. Scott Gallery (Vancouver), The Power Plant (Toronto) and Saidye Bronfman Centre (Montreal).