Marian Penner Bancroft, Kati Campbell, Stan Douglas, Ellie Epp, Arni Runar Haraldsson, Laiwan, Ken Lum, Michelle Normoyle, Elizabeth Vander Zaag, Ian Wallace
Curated by: Helga Pakasaar
Part I: January 28 to March 11, 2012
Please join us for the opening reception on Friday, January 27, at 7 pm. Artists in attendance.
This first of a two-part exhibition looks at how artists in Vancouver worked with camera images during the vital period of the 1980s. The project brings together photographic and media art from two generations, including key innovators of the influential “Vancouver school.” Many of the works will be seen for the first time since they were originally exhibited. “C. 1983” identifies self-reflective and concept driven camera works that points to the significance of photographic images in contemporary art practices at that time.
Part One highlights experimental and conceptualist approaches to image making through collage and appropriation, and sequences of moving and still pictures. The materiality of photographs and the interactions of light and surface are emphasized, drawing attention to modes of perception and visuality itself. The pictorial languages through which we read photographic images are seen as “significant surfaces produced by apparatuses” as Villem Flusser describes. The exhibition considers what is at stake in the realism of photographic depiction. Camera documents are mediated and given new associations that intervene with the legibility of photographic images. It is through the artists’ critiques of representation, rather than direct reportage, that social realities are revealed. Throughout the exhibition are clues to the instabilities arising from economic upheavals in Vancouver during the eighties. The narratives in these works are fragmented and often enigmatic: a slide projection piece will literally disappear over the course of the exhibition; abstract light patterns are recorded on film; and postcard blowups construct a landscape. The artists purloin images from popular culture and make reference to pictorial conventions from the histories of painting, cinema and mass media. They treat photographic images as a language and system of signs with an acute awareness of the social impact of public images in a mediated world. Indicative of that time, the works are informed by critical art theories as well as psychoanalysis, feminism, media politics, semiotics, film and literary theory.
Each part of “C. 1983” stresses different approaches to issues of the photographic that dominated art of the eighties, especially in this context. Many of the artworks in this exhibition were produced for new venues that emerged in the city at that time, including Presentation House Gallery that began to focus on photography in the early eighties. “C. 1983” proposes a framework for considering this zeitgeist from both local and wider perspectives. Public programs and a publication will be produced in conjunction with the project. Save the date of March 23 for the opening of Part Two with a screening of Rodney Graham’s “Two Generators” film.
Presented in honour of Kitty Heller, with generous support from her estate.