What is Pressure? What is Temperature?
MARISA KRIANGWIWAT HOLMES
Opening reception: Thurs, Aug 3, 6-8 PM
Thurs, Aug 3 - Sat, Sept 2, 2017
The August group show at WAAP features artists whose works imply a range of social interactions and engagements in response to the contemporary moment. In thinking about how art could respond to this moment, this Shakespeare quote seems apt: “How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea?” In our current political climate, borders are highly politicized spaces; BRODY ALBERT’s small sculpture of keys, a symbol of domesticity and access, with its bumpy edge a representation of the US coastline, asks: what if we all had access?
The exhibition also speaks to the need for artists to sometimes step outside of their normal practice and stand as citizens. PAUL CHAN’s corrugated plastic poster work, New Proverbs, documents a progression of activism from its premiere at the Million Women’s March earlier this year into a continuing effort to protest, and progress. The work, which has been allowed to be disseminated widely online through Chan’s press, Badlands Unlimited, ensures there will be enduring images that will allow the public to keep on the task of planting a sign post and pointing a finger to those responsible. The New Proverbs sign was inspired in part by the posters of the Westboro Baptist Church; by co-opting its colour combinations and typographic treatments, it flips the intended audience to be demonized.
In contrast, the subtle imagery of DYLAN TOWNLEY-SMITH’s paintings attempt to fix memories and to mark time, representing two important events in the past year: the day that Donald Trump was elected to be president of the United States, and the day of Barack Obama’s last speech as president.
Bertholt Brecht wrote in 1938: “In the dark times/ Will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing./ About the dark times.” In a portfolio work reminiscent of Walker Evans’ museological work around African masks in the 1920s, DAN STARLING’s Barack Obama Masks was initiated by the artist’s fascination with the diversity of representations of the ex-president, as found on eBay as rubber masks, their potential uses and symbolism evocative of perceptions around race at the present.
Art`s ensuing narratives rely upon individual and personal responses to contemporary events. With the 20th anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong back to China, 2017 Lind Prize-winner, MARISA KRIANGWIWAT HOLMES, has taken the charged symbol, the Bauhinia flower, of Beijing’s promise to Hong Kong of “one country, two systems”. The flower has been leaked of its colour to reduce its potency.
As the rage burns, it moves into our spaces and urgently appeals to our bodies and emotions. The exhibition title, What is Pressure? What is Temperature?, is derived by ZOE KREYE from a text by Karen Barad which discusses ineffable ideas around the sense of touch or connection. Meanwhile, MARINA ROY’s painting, which combines Berlin`s backdrops with the figural dynamics of Kohei Yoshiyuki infrared flash photographic series, The Park, is an imaginary projection of the freedom of bodies in contrast to the restraint and surveillance one internalizes corporeally in cities like Vancouver. In a possible allegory about the birth and transformation of consciousness, SCOTT BILLINGS’ Dawn of Man is a 3D printed sculpture inspired by the hominid sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Looking down at the ground, STEVEN COTTINGHAM’s Infinite ullage (2017) comprises a selection of coins that have been stripped of fiat value, defaced to the point of becoming mirrors. Precluded from circulating themselves, the emptied coins now contain temporary reflections of the circulating bodies that pass around them.
In Untitled (2017), a second-hand jacket is draped across a chair made of copper piping. Sourced via eBay, the jacket was one of many garments produced at a factory in Gazipur where production was interrupted as a result of mass hallucinations and ghost attacks. Rather than contradicting the supernatural claims of the exploited workers, here copper provides material precedent for the unseen exchange of energy in the form of electricity, gas, labour-power, or spectral vitality.
MATTHEW SHIELDS’ charged audio work, Concert Riot (1830-1973) captures the spirit of rebellion and revolution and serves as a kind of soundtrack to the exhibition. Twenty classical music concerts that incited riots when first performed are overlaid to create intricate composition, including famous works such as Daniel Auber’s La muette de Portici (1830) which sparked the Belgian Revolution and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (1913). Dadaist in its aggressive polyphony, at some points the work sounds like a riot itself. The effect of giving the riot back to these now classical scores is spectral; a noisy ghost of past avant-garde transgressions returned to the beyond transgressed now.
Wil Aballe Art Projects | WAAP
688 East Hastings St. (lower level)
Vancouver, BC Canada V6A 1R1
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