The photographic sculpture Three Ginseng Roots is a commissioned artwork for River Park Place in Richmond, BC. Balancing modern materials and processes with natural forms and colours, the three glass panels are installed within the water feature to give the sense that the roots are floating.
Ginseng is a medicinal plant used by many cultures and especially in traditional Chinese medicine. Rare and precious specimens that have been found in the wild can be seen on display at the many herbal stores in Richmond. Ginseng is also grown on farms throughout Canada, including on the Fraser River. The artwork promotes good health, well-being and connection with nature.
It is said that the dried roots resemble human figures. These roots have been enlarged to the size of a person to make them come to life and so that viewers will imagined their own characters and personalities for them them
Patrick Cruz, Gwenessa Lam, Evan Lee, Mehran Modarres, Byron Peters, Tadasu Takamine, Alex Cu Unjieng, and Qahraman Yousif
Opening March 16th, 7pm, 2017
In recent months the world has tipped past a precipice toward a dramatic time of transition. The shift is not necessarily sudden. The political trends of silencing scientists, appealing to nationalism, looking suspiciously on migrants or making hay by regulating religious dress have been fermenting for a while. Anti-diversity, anti-internationalist calls to patriotism have taken the Western world by storm, as though the post-WWII order is crumbling. It is no longer a given that those in power will pay even rhetorical homage to the advancement of democracy and human rights or the value of domestic diversity and international cultural and economic exchange. In such a moment, both the value and the feebleness of our cultural institutions become glaringly apparent and we are challenged to consider the role of art.
In Spring Exhibition we bring together the work of old and new friends to constitute a contemplative space stimulating considerations of the value of diversity and free expression, the struggles of migration and the possibility of cultural exchange.
Preluding this exhibition, on February 24th, on occasion of the 130th year since Vancouver’s first Anti-Chinese riots we held The Unwelcome Dinner. Chefs Wesley Young and Jacob Deacon Evans grounded diners’ palates in Vancouver’s foundational fissures and fusions, and host Henry Tsang, accompanied by various speakers, reflected on the history of racism and white supremacy in this city. Now, we invite Patrick Cruz, Gwenessa Lam, Evan Lee, Mehran Modarres, Byron Peters, Tadasu Takamine, Alex Cu Unjieng, and Qahraman Yousif to set the stage for a season of contemplation.
Qahraman Yousif’s work Lodge 179 is a reflection on the experience of imprisonment and migration and its effects on how language is experienced. Mehran Modarres’ Ma Miaeem, va Miravim/We Come and Go investigates hybridity and language through interventions in an English textbook from her childhood. Tadasu Takamine’s Ask for Trade illuminates moments of transformation during initial cross-oceanic engagement. Alex Cu Unjieng’s I Know Very Well, But Still utilizes décor in response to the gendered inequities of representation. Patrick Cruz’s Luzviminda explores cultural displacement and immigrant identity. Works from Gwenessa Lam’s Mongrel Histories series meditate on the history and value of cultural hybridity. With renderings from his Untitled Migrant Ship Re-Creation Project, Evan Lee examines the dual functions of depiction and construction in the portrayal of migrants. Byron Peters’ talk, Anti-Racist Mathematics and Other Stories, surveys selected communication and control technologies and their historical roots. In ad hoc constellation these artists’ works constitute a space for contemplation of the complexities of contemporary cultural/technological/political climate and the possibility of diversity.
Parallel to Spring Exhibition, Y Vy Truong and Christian Vistan have curated a selection of publications from Centre A’s reading room. At the centre of this gesture is documentation from the 1971 Vancouver Indo-Chinese Women’s Conference. The re-presentation of the literature produced for the Vancouver Indo-Chinese Women’s Conference expands public memory and re-conceptualizes the history of feminist movements in Canada. Truong and Vistan’s reading room challenges the Eurocentric memories, perspectives and tendencies in art, activism and other avenues of culture making in Vancouver, offering an inclusive space for the public to engage in conversations, to sip tea and consider paths forward.
Please join us for the opening of Spring Exhibition, at 7pm on March 16th, at Centre A, 229 East Georgia. The exhibition will be on display until May 13th. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 12pm-5pm. Over the course of the exhibition we will be holding talks, recordings and other events as relevant.
In the Open
January 4 to March 10, 2017
In the Open brings together an international and multigenerational group of artists who have captured images in public spaces, utilizing the invasive potential of the lens gaze to examine these civic regions. The exhibition spans over 40 years of artists looking at ‘open’ space and how it has been defined, surveilled and controlled. Often working from a source image to articulate social inequalities, the works in the exhibition consider how we frequently consent to inequitable though legislated conditions. In this way, the project aims to open questions about what is our right to privacy when we are out in the open and how are these locations monitored and regulated.
Our public spaces have become arenas for unprecedented frenzies of digital media. Surveillance cameras and smartphones are capturing images and uploading them from every street corner. As these photos become instantly transferable, finding themselves in internet, print and cable media, questions about the control of these pictures has become amplified. Over the last few decades, artists have anticipated this fervor and recorded the increasingly slippery boundaries of what constitues public or private use and the increased inability to control the contextualization of these images.
Through the artists’ conceptual picture making, questions are posed about what is being photographed when we are out in the open. What is ‘taken’ in these snap shots and why? Analysis of the motivations behind this compulsive production continues to reveal systems of desire, persuasion and control. Boundaries both official and personal are defined through this manipulation, the artists working to picture how these mediating systems articulate the social realities of their individual subjects.
Black and White Photographs (2007)
Prompted by pervious documentary projects such as Closer than they Appear, Manual Labour, and Old Women, as well as the Portrait of the Artist’s Grandmother taken shortly before her passing, these large-scale black and white near-documentary photographs re-create events from the artist’s life.
Black Panther Coloring Book
Building upon recent projects, which similarly explored media images of events that concern migration, race, identity and protest, the artist has created new works that are based on the images in the Black Panther Coloring Book using a combination of media and forms.
The Black Panther Coloring Book was a document secretly produced and distributed by the FBI’s covert Counter Intelligence Program, which strategically attributed the book’s authorship to the Black Panther Party. This ‘children’s book’ contained graphic ‘anti-white’ and anti-police imagery, and was mailed to prominent civil rights supporters with the hopes that the offensive content would cause them to reconsider their support, thereby undermining the growing movement. This document and the uncanny circumstances of its existence complexly allude to past and present issues of race, authorship, identity, subterfuge and power, and it has renewed significance in the present day.
In Ichiban, the artist mixes paint and instant ramen noodles with other found objects to create experimental sculptures that consider the artificial nature of “instant” food, as well as reflecting on ephemeral form and temporality in the artworks themselves. Like the companion work, Fugazi, Ichiban alludes to the complex relationship between that which is “real” and that which is “artificial” in our contemporary culture and art. Lee’s project reflects on his earlier works, such as the Dollar Store Still Life series (2006), which also examined the economic and cultural values of fake and artificial consumer goods
installation photo by Chris Rollett
Fugazi consists of 5-by-5 foot prints created from digital scans of cubic zirconia, relatively inexpensive but high quality imitations of diamonds. A “Fugazi“ is a slang term used in Mafia films for a counterfeit diamond. The images are captured at a high level of detail and are enlarged fifteen thousand percent to a scale that renders the gems’ internal appearance as mesmerizingly random, distorted and fractured, while the effects of digital image-loss and artifacting emerge to aid in their visual transformation. The patterns of abstract shapes and reflected colours appear kaleidoscopic and at times groundless, an aesthetic that Lee manipulates further by constructing geometric backgrounds in response to the resulting visual space.
Fugazi also continues the artist’s interest in psychedelia, illusion and optics, as explored in such earlier works as Every Part from a Contaflex Camera… (2006); Stain (2003); and Phoropter (2012). Contrary to the reproducible nature of photography, each of the Fugazi prints, made on fine art paper, exists only as a signed unique edition of one.
more coming soon