Evan Lee's image-based practice takes up interdisciplinary considerations of vision and
constructions of value through photography, painting and sculpture. In particular, Lees work
examines the aesthetic and social consequences that occur in the evolution of images and
imaging technology. His yearlong photo-based installation, Fugazi at the Teck Gallery,
considers methods of image capture as they effect ways of seeing and how value is socially
Fugazi begins from photographic scans of cubic zirconia, a relatively inexpensive crystalline
form of synthesized material that often stands in for diamonds. The images are captured
in detail and enlarged to a scale that transforms the gemstones internal appearance to one
that magnifies the distortion and fracture of light. Capturing is integral to photography and
Lees image capture opens up space for the questioning of optic purity, of the cubic zirconia
and of the image itself (as the act of enlargement results in a loss detail). The resulting
abstract patterns and refracted colours in Fugazi present a destabilizing kaleidoscopic
effect, similar to sunlit stained-glass windows.
Because of low cost, durability, purity, and visual likeness, cubic zirconia has been seen as a potential solution to the controversy surrounding the rarity and valuation of diamonds.
However, the diamond monopoly persists in perpetuating and fabricating worth through
other cultural measures. Fugazi is a fictionalized slang term for a counterfeit gemstone.
The captures of the tiny gemstones are scaled up and bisected for the Teck Gallery to
fenestral proportions, and in their installation begin to share a language of architecture,
landscape and development. In dialogue with the Teck Gallerys view overlooking Burrard
Inlet and North Vancouvers coastal mountains, Fugazi is an intervention in the edifice,
mimicking and making strange aspects of building and its design, akin to a faceted window
illuminated from behind. Conjuring spaces of worship, the installation speaks to economies
of belief including religion, education and capitalism. Rising like mineral suns, Fugazi
positions the images along a horizon line that connects with our daily planetary rotations
while also drawing lines to the extraction industries and the appetite for development that
Vancouver is built on.
Fugazi carries an open-ended resonance in relation to value and land. Extraction economies
are increasingly being challenged in this moment of late capitalism where climate change is
an oppressive force and a turn to renewal and alternate solutions are called for. Our relation
to land as a site of colonization is showing its irreversible damage to cultural and
environmental ecologies. In its consideration of the complexity of vision, Fugazi asks us to
unpack how we understand value in the image and its referents.
Lee is a Vancouver based artist whose work has been exhibited nationally and
internationally. He received his MFA from the University of British Columbia. Exhibitions
include Libby Leshgold Gallery; Winnipeg Art Gallery; Richmond Art Gallery; Kamloops Art
Gallery; Vancouver Art Gallery; Capture Festival; SFU Gallery; Contemporary Art Gallery;
Presentation House Gallery; Contact Photography Festival; Le Mois de la Photo Montreal;
Liu Hai Su Museum; and Confederation Centre. Lees work has been featured in Border
Crossings, Flash Art International, Lapiz International Art Magazine, Yishu Journal of
Contemporary Chinese Art, Canadian Art, and Art on Paper. He was shortlisted for the
Sobey Art Prize in 2014 and has undertaken public art commissions. His work is
represented by Monte Clark Gallery.