...we can know more than we can tell...
Exhibition runs June 1 to 6, 2019
Opening: June 1, 4 to 6pm.
The exhibition …we can know more than we can tell… actualizes intuitive dimensions of knowledge that happen through experience and the research and creation of artworks. The title comes from Michael Polanyi’s (1958) acknowledgement of tacit dimensions as a form of knowing. Pedagogically structured, the show reunites alumni and community partners of four past years of experiential learning courses at the University of British Columbia in a process of artistic conversation. By way of artistic work, community partners offer a part of their practices, to which alumni of the course respond through their own work; the resulting streams of artworks reveal covert connections, corresponding impulses, and reciprocal influences. The exhibition of works consists of the threads of inquiry, demonstrating a community of collaboration wherein art thrives.
Curated by Christine D'Onofrio
Featuring work and artist talks in four community partner streams
Capture Photography Festival has been integral to engaged-learning partnerships over the years. Students have worked closely with director Kate Henderson and as artist assistants to photographers featured in the festival. Henderson’s recent work sources images of women’s hands administering overlooked labour motions found in cultural magazines such as Art Forum, National Geographic, and Art in America. Arranging the working hand gestures into a tangled embrace, she shifts them into an act of solidarity by scanning them into a single flattened image. Attempting to enact shadow caricatures from an illustrated children’s book by Hendrik Bursill (the presumed author of Hand Shadows to Be Thrown upon the Wall), Loewen records his attempts at the stereotypical representations in diagrams labelled “boy,” “wild Indian,” and “mike.” Two projected displays cast a double shadow, and the playful gestures become vile reminders of how culture perpetuates systemic oppressions in seemingly innocuous artifacts. Sacrificing naivety, Loewen enacts a critical evaluation of the privileged subject-position as learned and performed. Mackenzie Walker’s often I hold my hands up in the evening sun depicts a habitual movement by the artist’s hands that he was first taught by his father as an index for evaluating the quality of light. As well as a coy nod to Scott Massey’s practice (the artist he was partnered with in the course), Walker captures a moment for which light refraction artifacts expose bare photographic properties of image making that infuse – and touch – our everyday lives. Mindi Chen presents a compilation of four videos in her work, (in)essentials, depicting the artist’s fingers mashing various hair care products: scrub, oil, conditioner, and shampoo. The abject motions playing with the substances become a commercial endeavour when accompanied by text descriptions at the bottom of the screen. Working in unison and as a way to deconstruct the apparatus and specificity of photography, the artists in this cluster use working hands to uncover, interlock, reveal, and enchant the sensorial image of touch.
The Contemporary Art Gallery has partnered with the course from its inception through Holly Schmidt in her role as educational curator. Currently an artist in residence with the Outdoor Art Program at the University of British Columbia, she explores the localized effects of weather. For this exhibition, Schmidt makes durational additions to Forecast, a cut-vinyl text piece with a mirror finish on the windows of the Audain Art Centre. The letters reflect external conditions that spell out poetic weather forecasts shaped into abstracted and internalized formations. Patrick O’Neill’s precariously balanced assemblage something more than is actually present resembles experimental weather probes, instruments, and measuring devices turned to aestheticized apparatuses for different stages of a sculpture’s evolution. Pushing found objects beyond their banal existence, the work enacts the personal space of studio practice as unsettled potential. Holly Clarke’s work engages the simplest of weather shelters as she collects and assembles umbrellas of different patterns and forms into a cloudlike structure hanging above our heads. Reminiscent of amateur and DIY weather-altering contraptions, the mystic of human control over ecological determinations is visualized into a carnivalesque apparatus. As glorious as it is defunct, the work is indicative of our anthropogenic age, wherein human activity dominantly influences climate and the environment. Lola Storey’s bookwork presents juxtapositions of quotes and archival images that impose connections as much as they diffuse. Sometimes playful, other times sentimental, and always exploratory, the specificity of language unravels and changes state to deconstruct the chronological pages into a diffusion of time. Negotiating weather as hybrid, shifting, mythical, and affective, the works in the Contemporary Art Gallery cluster tangle real-world patterns into poetic nuance, offering us the potential to think abstractly.
Other Sights for Artists’ Projects has exposed students to ways of working collectively on artistic projects that materialize in temporary spaces and public outlets rather than in conventional gallery spaces. In recent years, the partnership included work on The Foreshore, a series of discussion-focused events that considered aesthetic, economic, and regulatory conditions of public place and life hosted by various artists and thinkers. This resulted in archived and recorded sessions that were turned into new works in the form of audio zines titled The Foreshore Listens, which were led by Jen Weih, who is a member of the Other Sights production team. These works, by Stacey Ho, Vanessa Campbell, Dan Pon, and Sarah Moore, are featured in the exhibition using and expanding on existing material from the events. The outcome of the sound works “draw out complex constellations of thought and insight otherwise latent in the series and crystalizes their depth and urgency” (othersights.ca). Alumni of the engaged-learning class created new artworks that respond to the audio zines in an effort to further materialize the active grasps we make to keep in touch with what is fleeting. Tung Yi works with familial lineages and public spaces of communication and connection in her sound work Situating with Context. Josephine Lee’s delicate glass work, Stone’s throw from the old country, depicts the hybridity of mind as one circulates transient spaces we once or currently call home. In Alexandra Rodriguez’s work Papel Picado, the festively crafted tissue paper cut-out designs are connected to those of tear-off tab flyers found in public spaces. The Mexican folk-art format shifts into a commercial enterprise that can also be seen as poetically sustaining. In response to the Other Sights for Artists’ Projects, the artists activate transient spaces in both form and content, offered by The Foreshore Listens audio works to uncover layers of institutionalized coercion and effacement.
VIVO Media Arts is emblematic of artist-run culture in Canada and a long-standing partner in the engaged learning course. Over the years, many students have taken up various projects, from working with VIVO’s vast archives, to programming screenings, to facilitating events. Much like the activities in which students were engaged, KC Wei’s practice crosses communities and disciplines, from art, to music, to film essays, and beyond. Her work, Sun Song, is a video of track 2 from her band Kamikaze Nurse’s debut album, Bucky Fleur. Wei used a glitched DVD-rip of Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind combined with live-rehearsal footage. The inclusion of tablet drawings was inspired by Barbara Hammer’s techniques in No No Nooky TV, which is distributed by Video Out. In None of the trees look like home, Teresa Chu indexes textures of the floors outside monumental spaces in London, UK, where she currently resides. The drawn impressions gained by rubbings on paper over a surface embody the sensation of a space while yearning for place. They are then mailed to Vancouver with sentimental longing for a moment locked in time and memory. Matthew Ballantyne’s ornithological interests continue in his work Tantalus, in which a hummingbird is seduced with orange soda in a bottle neck just small enough to be an impasse and an ullage too great to reach the drink. The work engages with the notion that what we desire can lead us to make fatal decisions; or further, as the title refers to the Greek mythological figure eternally punished in part for stealing nectar from the table of the gods. In its failure we empathize as we see the sustaining inaccessibility of what we desire. In her work Overtone, Makiko Hamaguchi reassembles the keys of a piano severed from their ability to produce sound. Certain keys are altered and frozen in motion; in common is their overtone frequency, which gives the listener the sensation of hearing other frequencies when these specific notes are played. The extended vibrations attest to the complex dimension of visceral sensations. The haunted and ghostly presence in the machine, on the ground, of ill-fated desire and overtone sensations bear witness to the perfectly measured wounds and failures that make us feel alive.