Disgruntled: Other Art – Conversation between Diana Zapata and Jessica Mach

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Online Messaging Conversation occurred on September 2015 –

grunt gallery has had the pleasure of meeting and working with a great number of fantastic volunteers who have contributed their time to various projects at our space – and who have subsequently become important members of grunt gallery’s community.

We’re happy to share a conversation between two of grunt gallery’s archive volunteers, Diana Zapata and Jessica Mach, about DISGRUNTLED: Other Art, grunt’s first eBook that commemorates the 30th anniversary.

Diana calls Bogotá, Medellín, Mexico City, Vancouver and Toronto home. She has a BA in Art History from The University of British Columbia and was an Archival Intern at grunt. She currently lives in Toronto, where she makes lattes for the city’s coffee fiends. She is also the Gallery Administrator and Outreach Coordinator at Sur Gallery.

Jessica was an ATA archival and curatorial intern. She received her MA from the Dept. of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University, and now resides in Toronto.

Online Messaging Conversation occurred on September 2015 –

Jessica: So maybe we can begin by discussing why we decided on this particular combination of texts.

Diana: Ok well from my end, something about the deeply personal nature of the texts spoke to me. It wasn’t until after we each went over our shortlist that we found the overlapping themes. And these topics have been on my mind recently. The topics of family and diaspora and identity, that is. Something about the amount of time I’ve spent living on my own away from family has led me to wanting to reflect on that a lot.

J: Yeah these texts were incredibly personal but each one spoke to broader structural dynamics as well. And as was the case with you, there were definitely parts that personally resonated with me — like when Larissa Lai rehearses the line “We didn’t come here so you could be like this (i.e. queer),” she is accurate in her contention that it is one that “so many of us have heard” before (“us” being, of course, the progeny of first-generation immigrants). I’ve heard it, maybe you’ve heard it, and it wasn’t necessarily always being directed at us.

I think what most interested me about this particular combination of texts is also encapsulated by that line. Lai, Susan Stewart, and Peter Morin are all trying to negotiate their conflicting and often irreconcilable fidelities to various traditions, familial structures, sexual practices, etc.

D: Yes, there is a tension there that they are trying to work through between their familial duties, staying true to themselves and working within a world that excludes them. And the artists that Lai writes about, as well as Lai herself, Stewart and Morin seem to be, in one way or another, outsiders. Or trying to live outside what bell hooks called the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

J: Oh the WSCP definitely sucks in a big ass way: even once you’ve given a name to it and recognized the incredible extent to which it structures even the most banal parts of your life, that doesn’t necessarily fortify you against its reach. It was sad, though definitely not surprising, to read for instance in Susan’s essay that Suzo Hickey, an artist whose work explicitly takes as its subject of critique patriarchal standards of motherhood, nevertheless feels like a failure for not being able to meet those standards: “she doesn’t feel like she is doing anything right.”

D: It’s designed to make everybody feel like they are not good enough for it — of course — everybody except those who were actually born fitting its narrow parameters of what it is to be normal or right. And it kills me how families, the people who are supposed to love you and support you, can fail so spectacularly at this because they are more concerned with upholding these damaging values than they are with raising strong, kind individuals who can think for themselves. And it’s not like we are obsessed with the WSCP, but it’s everywhere! And people will go out of their way to deny deny deny rather than just stop and think of how they may be complicit.

And like in Hickey’s case, the lack of support for certain lifestyles is so damaging to all of us. Just because we didn’t all choose to be engineers or IT specialists doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to be there for our families and provide them with the best life we can.

J: The proposition that alternative familial structures can facilitate well-being for their members just as well as — or possibly even better than — say, the nuclear family, can seem like such a “well, duh” thing. But it also often isn’t. These three essays are so instructive for thinking through the lived complexities (and often pain) of navigating alternative avenues in a WSCP, because they all direct attention to the negative affects that can circulate around such an enterprise, and the extent to which these affects can burden or even outright prevent its realization.

Again, I found Lai’s rehearsal of the line “We didn’t come here so you could be like this” fascinating, not least because I’ve also been the object of its address. It is an accusation of betrayal, and the accusation isn’t actually completely inappropriate or inaccurate.

D: As much as parents want their children to live their best lives, I can see how it can be difficult for them to understand their child’s choices, especially if they spent so much of their adult lives sacrificing parts of themselves to raise them. But when you’re a child, it’s painful to stick out because of who your parents are (if you only have one parent, if you have two moms or if you are being raised by a struggling artist) and all you might want to do is be normal. So it feels like a lose-lose situation. Families are still families, no matter how unconventional and they are all composed of separate humans experiencing life in a parallel, not identical way. And these humans might all be broken in their own ways throughout their lives.

“We didn’t come here so you could be like this,” in the eyes of the person speaking it, might be meant to be interpreted as “we didn’t want you to suffer how we’ve suffered” but it’s hard to take it like that when you know you can’t be any other way and still be happy. So that delicate balance fascinates me, which is why I am interested in finding out about how other people experience it and live through it.

J: Yeah, and I think the Peter Morin essay provides an illuminating (and incredibly lovely) counterpoint to the Lai and Stewart essays, which meditate on the frustrations, pain, and awkwardness of disentangling oneself from various traditions — traditions structured, in both cases, by localized iterations of patriarchy. Here is an individual whose relation to Family is defined by longing — for real people who are either rarely proximate or no longer around, and for a facility with a heritage that may not have been so well-documented and thus easily recovered.

D: The part that I related to the most in that essay was the part where he talks about how his family took turns housing his grandmother. I remember my mom telling me that this or that uncle or aunt were taking them to their house for a certain period of time before it was somebody else’s turn. They would pool money to pay for medicine and other expenses, and since it would have been too expensive to hire a nurse to take care of them this was the solution. They spent their time living with each of their children and with their grandchildren. I missed out on a lot of that because my family lived in a different country, so we would only visit during the summers.

It was also refreshing to be reminded that not all aspects of family can be damaging, and that there are traditions which are useful and important to pass on. I also enjoyed the parts that talk specifically about the photo and its frame. When you belong to a community or family that has spent so long moving around, certain objects will hold so much power over your memory. I particularly loved this: “So, I too am responsible for stories” because I don’t think he sees it as a burden, but an honour. To have a history and to pass it on to the next generation.

J: There are definitely traditions that are useful and important to pass on! This is perhaps particularly the case for Morin, who is Tahltan — to preserve and sustain specific traditions is to refuse and to fortify against an historically institutionalized project of colonial erasure.

D: Yassss.

It seems like we have all taken up the job of attempting to dismantle the damage done by hundreds of years of destruction, in our own ways. I’m thankful to grunt for informing so much of my thinking in this respect. Working with the archives was an amazing educational experience, especially when it came to contemporary First Nations art and Performance art. So it wasn’t just the people I met along the way.

J: Yes! Although I met you, Olga, Kendra, Venge, and Dan at grunt, and you’re all still my besties.

D: 5ever.

Download the 30th Anniversary eBook here.


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AGM 2015


Please join us for a fun, fast, pizza and beer-filled AGM.  Those that join us will be treated to a talk by Glenn Alteen on his latest whirlwind trip to the Istanbul biennale.

We will be meeting for the following purposes:

  1. To receive the March 31, 2015 Audited Financial Statements.
  2. To receive the annual reports.
  3. To elect the society’s officers.

All members of the Visible Art Society are invited to attend.

If you are not already a member, please visit our website (grunt.ca) by September 29, 2015 to sign up for a free membership. A pop-up screen will appear on the home page with a check box to opt-in.

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Job Posting: Communications Director

| grunt gallery | #116-350 E. 2nd Ave | Vancouver, BC | V5T 4R8 | grunt.ca |

Job Description

Position Title: Communications Director
Location: grunt gallery
Reporting to: Program Director

Hours: 32 hours per week; some evening and weekend work; flexible schedule

Start date: Tuesday, October 20, 2015

General Description of the Position:

The Communications Director is responsible for all communications with the grunt community, the marketing of grunt programs and the coordination of fundraising. The Communications Director reports directly to the Program Director and is responsible for creating and managing marketing initiatives such as newsletters, advertisements, social media, web 2.0 and press releases, as well as working with grunt staff to coordinate, research, develop and implement various fundraising initiatives. The CD oversees the production of brochures catalogues and other publications for the society, including the annual report. The CD is also responsible for coordinating exhibition openings with other staff and board, website management and updates, and basic customer service while at the gallery.

Required Competencies:

Marketing Collaboration Commitment Communication Flexibility Creativity
Computer Skills Resourcefulness Reliability
Fundraising Tolerance
Written Communication

General Responsibilities:

• Promoting programming through press releases, mass emails, website, social media, web 2.0 and newsletters;
• Participation in and support of various committees and project groups as required;
• Working with the Program Director to get a good understanding of program requirements for marketing and communications;
• Coordinating, researching, developing and implementing various fundraising and donor cultivation initiatives;
• Coordinating and hosting exhibition openings;
• Website management and updates;
• Volunteer coordination and supervision;
• Assisting with customer service;
• Other duties as required.

Required Skills and Education:

• Excellent understanding of artist-run centres;
• Post-secondary education in an arts related program is an asset;
• Previous experience (work or volunteer) with arts organizations;
• Advanced writing skills and an ability to develop marketing around programming and fundraising;
• Fundraising and donor cultivation experience is highly recommended;
• Working knowledge of Web 2.0/ Social Media, e.g. Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram;
• Working knowledge of MS Office, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, MailChimp, WordPress and GiftWorks, an asset;
• Strong time management skills;
• Strong technical skills;
• Resourceful, hands-on and pro-active.

Other Job Requirements:

• Must be highly organized, detail oriented, committed to quality and able to work independently, with minimal supervision;
• Outgoing, social and comfortable with public speaking;
• Ability to work flexible hours.

Business Ethics and the Workplace:

• The Communications Director must promote and set the example for ensuring a friendly, courteous, respectful and professional workplace;
• The Communications Director must maintain the confidentiality of all personal, private and professional information obtained within the course of their employment, in accordance with the grunt Privacy Policy;
• The Communications Director must act in accordance with the grunt Workplace Relationship Policy, which prohibits the acceptance of gifts, loans or anything of value from any individuals with whom contact is had during the course of employment.

About grunt

Formed in 1984, grunt Gallery has built a reputation on innovative and cutting edge programs, exhibitions, performances, artist talks, publications and special projects that showcase current and past work by contemporary Canadian and international artists. We focus on work that would otherwise not be seen in Vancouver and are proud of our ability to act as an intersection between various cultural groups based on aesthetics, medium or identity. We consider our programming as a work in progress that is always changing and is always interesting.

grunt gallery offers a competitive salary and benefits package, along with a flexible work schedule, opportunities for education and development, and a very comfortable, creative, harmonious and positive work environment.

PDF Download: grunt Communications Director ad Sept15-15

To apply: Please send your resume and cover letter by email to Meagan Kus at meagan@grunt.ca

Application deadline: Monday, September 28th at 5:00pm

grunt is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes all applicants.

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Disgruntled: Other Art – Conversation between Venge Dixon and Olga Alexandru

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grunt gallery has had the pleasure of meeting and working with a great number of fantastic volunteers who have contributed their time to various projects at our space – and who have subsequently become important members of grunt gallery’s community.

We’re happy to share a conversation between two of grunt gallery’s archive volunteers, Olga Alexandru and Venge Dixon, about DISGRUNTLED: Other Art, grunt’s first eBook that commemorates the 30th anniversary.

Venge has worked with grunt gallery for many years – volunteering, editing and establishing the very tiny base of what was to become grunt’s extensive, wonderfully well-staffed project, Activating the Archives (ATA). Venge Dixon is a visual artist, musician and occasional composer. These days she is working on the first book of a long planned comic book series.

Olga first started as an archival intern for the ATA project and went on to become the database manager. She co-created educational study guides for high school students using material from the archives. She has also sat on the curatorial committee. She is a poet & zine-maker who now resides in Bristol, UK.

Online Messaging Conversation occurred on July 15, 2015 –
Venge:  Would you like to begin with Polly Bak, or would you like to begin with a less dense text (and by that I mean wordy, not excessive)?

Olga:  We can start with Polly Bak. It’s the first essay I read and I was so glad that I did because it definitely helped frame the conversation in my head.

Venge:  Sounds good. How did it help you frame the conversation? I seem to be still without one—[a] frame, that is.

Olga:  Well, for me everything related to grunt has to do with identity: the identity of who I was as a woman starting my art career, the cultural identity of the artists shown at grunt, and the implications of how we create identity or how it’s created for us. And reading Polly’s essay seemed to confirm a lot of those themes.

Venge:  I admit to finding this piece both hectoring and yet full of content with which I do or have identified within myself. She asks questions and provides answers.

Venge:  One of my favourite things about grunt is that it provides many, many questions in its exhibitions but does not define an absolute answer, if any answer at all.

Olga:  Yes! I agree completely. It presents ideas and makes you think of the implications of certain things but it stops short of telling you what you should think or do as a result. And that, I think, is the making of a great institution. I think it’s a place where things never feel clichéd or like some lesson is being taught.

Venge:  Yes. I do think that this is intentional. grunt is open to ideas – many, many ideas. Shows happen because a diverse group of people decide that they suit the space, often because the voice of that particular artist on that particular subject has not been heard. The decision isn’t necessarily that a voice must [be heard], only that it has not been and is therefore worth discussing.

Olga:  Exactly. I think they probably pick artists who kind of align with that way of thinking. Showing rather than telling. I feel like Polly does that in her essay. She talks so forthrightly about having White privilege. I like how she makes fun of herself and other “well-meaning” White people, especially by choosing the tongue-in-cheek title “A Good-Hearted White Girl’s Search for Identity.” The section she talks about guilt leading people to hate and fear the thing that makes us feel guilty was so on point. I had to stop for a long time and think about that. It was so simple but it’s so true.

Venge:  I had difficulty with some of that “tongue-in-cheekness” – perhaps it is there to lessen the blow, [but] to me it seemed more defensive than matter-of-fact. That does not lessen its impact. The damage done by white shame is real and pervasive. Many of us, including my younger self, sometimes this older one, would rather swallow fire ants than acknowledge that this guilt has/does haunt us and therefore the society in which we live.

Venge:  I used to say “but I am only first-and-a-half generation Canadian” or “I didn’t grow up here” or some other “Not My Fault” silliness. This was fueled by fear and a sense that the rage native people might feel towards Whites was somehow mine to shoulder.

Venge:  When she speaks about listening being the way to understanding, about her responsibility towards other Whites – in terms of educating them – I am both drawn to the ideas and yet feel, at the same time, that ‘something’ is missing and too much decided.

Olga:  Going back to the first thing you said, I only read some parts of the essay as tongue-in-cheek, I think because her tone was difficult to categorize. But what you say makes a lot of sense. At times it does seem quite defensive. But I think that’s probably the point. Because she includes herself as one of the problematic people. Her line “I am one with the murderers and the slaughtered” was very striking. I agree with you though: it’s only part of the solution. I think the narrative around issues of race now is to let POC speak for themselves and not to interrupt with our opinions, which I think it one of the ways forward. I think this segueways nicely into Kamala Todd’s essay about Jeff Thomas’s “A Study of Indian-ness.” His exhibition is a way of reclaiming the representation of Aboriginal people by self-made images. It’s a way to create a more realistic narrative than the fantasy of the empty land and dying Indian that the dominant culture has created.

Venge:  Agreed! Not attempting to speak for others does seem to be one of the ways forward. Kamala Todd’s essay speaks of a visible/visibility, presenting a truth about colonial separation within its dominant culture (of which I am a privileged member), between its version of history and the reality that stands before it, clear and no longer silent.

Venge:  I think that Jeff Thomas’s work provides us with a clear place from which to watch, listen and not insert our White/ colonial/thieving sense of things into the frame.

Olga:  Yeah. I remember while working on ATA I came across the photo of his exhibition that showed all the cheesy romance novels with the really chiseled Native Warrior characters on the cover and I thought “Man! I wish I had seen that exhibition”. Here’s the photo.

Olga:  It was just such a jarring thing because you can see it from an outsider’s point of view. It looks super cheesy and stereotypical. And then you realize, well so are things like the Edward Curtis photos Kamala references, yet somehow one has become way more acceptable as reality.

Venge:  Wow, these are great; thanks for the link, Olga! And yes, that moment it takes to realize that you have seen the “joke” in high school history books, public art galleries, train stations, court houses presented with great serious… and, oh, crap! Did I understand those ‘jokes’? Probably not. Do I understand Thomas’s? Probably not.

That’s “seriousness.”

Olga:  Yeah, like it’s kind of crazy that kids are still being taught some bullshit colonial reworking of history. There’s an amazing part of Polly Bak’s essay that talks about 1492 and how the land was in fact not empty: “By 1492 this land had been transformed by many, many generations of settlers and builders, mounds, temples, towns, cities, dams, farming, hunting, logging, fishing; the land was lived on, fought over, buried in. There were parents and children. Places had names. Full, the land was full.” When you see that it’s so hard to listen to any justification for why history is still taught through colonial lenses.

Venge:  It has become increasingly deliberate, the Colonial ‘lie as history’. Does anyone still believe it? Is there a reason to? Yes. We are living on land that does not belong to us, creating an overlay of impossible steel and glass structures, hoping that by our excess our thievery will go unnoticed.

Olga:  Yeah, I’m not really sure how the lies are still believed to be true. I think it’s really similar to what’s happening in the US with the treatment of Black people, especially young, Black men. The country has been in denial for a long time as to the treatment towards Black people. And now only through self-made movements like #BlackLivesMatter is the truth being exposed. And it is making everyone super uncomfortable. Because they’d rather not know. Because then they have to do something about it or be complacent. And if they’re complacent and still allowing systemic injustices to occur then they don’t know what that says about them as human beings.

Venge:  I think that #BlackLivesMatter and the increased public awareness of Black lives not seeming to matter is the truth being re-exposed. The dominant culture opens one eye, closes the other, and then, over a decade or so/or less, closes the other. This is not the first time African Americans have had to yell very loudly to make us White people listen, this is not the first time native peoples of the world have had their lives paid lip service to. Will we go beyond half sight/ half hearing? Will we be hearing and seeing the very same outrages committed in the names of Whites everywhere and acting surprised all over again? I do not have much faith in us… I listen, see, and I haven’t actually done a damn thing.

Venge:  Or is that, perhaps, what I need to do?

Olga:  Yeah, I’m definitely not trying to say I have answers, because I sure as hell don’t. I think you’re right. It comes and goes out of season for the dominant culture to care about POC. It’s fucked up that their fights get picked up and dropped according to the flavour du jour. I mean not to be cheesy but I think this is the role of art. To bring these issues to the forefront, to make people uncomfortable in an environment they didn’t expect it. Maybe people are tired of politics. Maybe the fight needs to move into a different arena.

Venge:  I think you’re right, not cheesy: art has the ability to challenge, to bring up the well-hidden, obvious failings of the society in which it persists. Persists despite funding losses, proscription, mockery, derision. Art is powerful, and its power belongs equally to all who participate. I don’t mean that all galleries are open to all artists… I mean that art and artists have a voice outside of absolutes, outside of societal ‘truths’. It is sometimes possible to hear another better when you are silent in the presence of their creation.

Venge:  This seems like a very good time to talk about Paul Wong’s poem from 1999. He is speaking of a time of great creative upheaval and willingness on the parts of artists and audiences alike to leap into the unknown.

Olga:  Yeah, I love the poem; that’s why I wanted to talk about it. I think I first saw it in one of the other publications grunt did and I remembering chuckling to myself. I didn’t know anything about performance art before I started working at grunt, so it was amazing to learn about the performance scene in the ‘90s. I think the poem is kind of what people say about performance art, either against it or as a way to defend it.

Venge:  Yes. It a celebration of the form, the adventure, the confusion and, oh yeah, heavy drinking and the cigarette break!

Venge:  There was also this sense that anyone might be a part of the experience. That maybe our purpose one the planet was to make art – with our bodies, our stamina, our loud and quiet voices and our outrageous chutzpah!

Olga:  Yeah, looking back at the photos and seeing the footage of the performances and even hearing people’s stories made me wish I had been there. You know, like people say they wish they’d been in New York in the ‘80s or whatever. But I think grunt managed to channel that feeling into the gallery as a whole. From the first time I went there, to a solstice party, everyone was so friendly and welcoming. We kind of created this family out of that place. I know it’s been around for 30 years, so I’ve seen the different iterations of the family, but man! it feels great to have been a part of it. To still be a part of it even though I live far away now. I feel like grunt will always be a place I can go home to, you know?

Venge:  What is on the walls or installed in the room, the people who come for a while and stay forever: it all feels like a part of a wonderous spiral, ever-changing and yet always moving back towards itself and away again. It has been a privilege for me to be a small part of that and a thrill to have met so many amazing people. I’m with you: near or far, I will be there.

Olga:  Wow. That’s so beautiful Venge. That place opened up so many things in me. Not to get all existential, but it really changed the way I thought about myself. I think working there finally gave me the confidence I needed to pursue the things I loved. The people I met there definitely changed my perception of what normal is. I think it allowed me to be myself and to grow into myself as well.

Venge:  I think there is more to be said about everything we have spoken about – way more. But I do have to shave my head sometime this afternoon and am wondering: are there things we left unsaid which we should have mentioned? Are there points you really wanted to make that you have left unstated? Where are you in this process now?

Olga:  I think it’s mostly been said, to be honest. I thought we could maybe share a couple of our favourite moments from our time there to end it?

Venge:  Sounds good. I’ll leave out the crying. You start.

Olga:  Haha! Oh, there were definitely tears of frustration! There’s no denying that. But somehow it was all worth it. So, one of my favourite things was the first solstice party I went to. There was a photo of me standing next to Lawrence Paul and I totally freaked out when he got tagged in it because I had learned about him in school and there I was just casually standing next to him, not knowing. Everyone thought it was hilarious that I didn’t know it was him and that I was freaking out about it. It was a crazy experience. And probably every time after I talked to him I was like, “OMG. I’m talking to Lawrence Paul. Why am I saying all these stupid things?”

Olga:  My other favourite thing was probably standing in the corner at the openings talking to you, Jessica, or Diana. It became such a running joke between me and Jessica that “the corner” was our thing.

Venge:  One of my early memories of grunt was standing in the gallery at Fiona Mowatt’s opening of her Giant Condoms exhibition: all these exquisitely drawn representations of the ordinary made extraordinary by context. That was a long time ago and, at the time, was taken by many as feminist and political statement.

Venge:  When I went to Glenn Alteen in the early thousands, after many visits to the gallery and some actual participation, very much in need – as a crazy woman on disability – of a volunteer position, he was completely non-judgemental. He made it so easy and so ordinary. I will always love him for that.

Olga:  I agree. Glenn is the most unpretentious art dude ever!

Venge:  grunt has been a home for me, a hiding place, a meeting ground, an argument, a celebration of life and continues ever to be a place of profound learning. I feel very lucky to have worked there, to share connections with the people there and to have met you, Jessica, Diana, Kendra, Steven and so many great people, including Lawrence Yuxweluptun!

Olga:  Hear hear! Also I loved talking to Demian about robots. Let’s not forget that.

Venge:  Oh those robots! They are here, Demian, you were so right: they are taking over!

Olga:  Haha! Well, Venge, it has been lovely taking this stroll down memory lane with you. And getting fired up about social justice. I feel like the conversation doesn’t really end here, does it? We’ll always be talking.

Venge:  That’s very true and also cool: we’ll be talking ‘til we can’t.


Download the 30th Anniversary eBook here.

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Announcement! Inaugural Vancouver Independent Archives Week in 2015

July 24, 2015 (Vancouver, BC) – 

grunt gallery, Western Front, and VIVO Media Arts Centre are excited to announce that they have received funding from the Vancouver Foundation to host an inaugural Vancouver Independent Archives Week in November of 2015.

This initiative will build direct community awareness and interaction with artist-run centre (ARC) archives in the City of Vancouver. grunt gallery, Western Front and VIVO Media Arts Centre will collaborate in hosting and organizing a series of free community education and engagement activities and events. Participants can expect programming such as archive tours, performances, public talks, screenings, and hands-on art and archive activities for families and youth. Vancouver Independent Archives Week will showcase how non-institutionalized archives operate as a community memory for cultural histories.

“This funding announcement for Archives Week is fantastic news and we’re excited to collaborate with Western Front and VIVO – two organizations that share an invested interest towards their archives. This partnership will bring a needed focus from the public to see the greater value of arts-based archives and the vibrant history they contain.”
– Glenn Alteen, programming director and co-founder for grunt gallery.

We greatly appreciate the support from Vancouver Foundation and look forward to releasing more information regarding this event in the Fall of 2015.

grunt gallery | Western Front | VIVO Media Arts

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grunt gallery Announcement! Performance Videos released for 30th Anniversary

Still from Neil Eustache’s, Indian Art for Sale. 

grunt gallery releases newly digitized Performance Videos – Curated by Alex Pimm for grunt’s 30th Anniversary.

July 21, 2015 (Vancouver, BC) –

grunt gallery is excited to release six never-before-seen Performance Art Videos curated by Alex Pimm. The first video to be released is Indian Art For Sale, a performance by poet Neil Eustache.

Over the past three years, Alex Pimm has been overseeing the maintenance and archiving of grunt’s collection of video documentation – recordings of performances, installations and various accompanying material that date back to grunt’s first days. Pimm’s selections emphasize grunt’s extensive history of creating relationships between diverse communities – including local and international artists, First Nations artists and LGBTQ artists.

grunt gallery will release a new video every Tuesday from July 21 – August 18, you can find it at the 30th Anniversary Tumblr, or through our social media.
>> Watch the full video for Neil Eustache’s, Indian Art for Sale.

30th Anniversary Performance Art Videos Tumblr
About the 30th Anniversary

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Upcoming Exhibition: ARCTICNOISE

URL: http://grunt.ca/exhibitions/arctic-noise/


Exhibition Title: ARCTICNOISE
Artist: Geronimo Inutiq
Curators: Guest curated by Yasmin Nurming-Por and Britt Gallpen, produced in conjunction with International Symposium of Electronic Arts (ISEA); Glenn Alteen and Tarah Hogue (grunt gallery); and Kate Hennessy and Trudi Lynn Smith (Ethnographic Terminalia)
Exhibition Dates: Aug 5 – Aug 22, 2015
Reception: Monday, August 17 (7–10pm)
July 20, 2015 (Vancouver, BC) – grunt gallery, Ethnographic Terminalia and the 21st International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA) are excited to present anexhibitionpanelworkshop and a performance for ARCTICNOISE. The exhibition is located at grunt gallery and runs from August 5 to August 22, 2015 with an reception on Monday, August 17 (7–10pm).

ARCTICNOISE is a media installation by Geronimo Inutiq (madeskimo) that draws on archival film footage and sound materials sourced from the Isuma Archive at the National Gallery of Canada, as well as sound and film materials from the artist’s personal collection and other ethnographical material. Conceived as an Indigenous response to Glenn Gould’s celebrated composition “The Idea of the North”, Inutiq will appropriate Gould’s piece as a musical score, paired with new voices and imagery to produce a layered and multi-vocal work.

The project folds into Inutiq’s larger practice of his alter-ego, madeskimo, that draws on the use of instruments, and digital and analogue synthesizers, as well as the remixing and processing of samples from a large variety of sources— including traditional Inuit, Aboriginal, modern electronic and urban music—in order to create an experimental platform.

At its crux, ARCTICNOISE intends to initiate conversations between various communities, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and to provoke thoughtful exchange about the roles of Inuit orality and materiality in a post-colonial space within the context of new media artwork. New media, with its appropriative and collage-like nature, is employed as a specific strategy to foster a multi-vocal and multi-generational approach to these sensitive issues.

A curatorial essay written by Yasmin Nurming-Por and Britt Gallpen will be available at the exhibition. This essay will also be included in the forthcoming publication forARCTICNOISE.

grunt gallery | Address: Unit 116 – 350 East 2nd Ave, Vancouver, BC V5T4R8

Additional Programming –

Terminus: Archives, Ephemera, and Electronic Art
Saturday August 15 (9:30 am to 5:30 pm)
at VIVO Media Arts | vivomediaarts.com
2625 Kaslo Street, Kaslo St, Vancouver, BC V5M 3G9

Yasmin Nurming-Por and Britt Gallpen, with grunt gallery’s Curatorial Resident Tarah Hogue, are collaborating with the collective Ethnographic Terminalia to produce a workshop at the International Symposium of Electronic Arts (ISEA), which will be hosted by VIVO on Saturday, August 15th from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, open to the public for viewing.

Following the 2015 ISEA theme of Disruption as it relates to the archive and its expression in new media, “Terminus: Archives, Ephemera, and Electronic Art,” will include presentations of electronic art works and theoretical frameworks that disrupt material, figurative, discursive, cultural, and political manifestations of the archive, broadly conceived. The workshop will result in a DIY publication of the proceedings that will be made available to the public in limited edition print and online formats.


Saturday, August 15th @ 8:00 pm
at the Vancouver Art Gallery | vancouverartgallery.org/
750 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7

Arrive by 8pm to watch a performance by Geronimo Inutiq (madeskimo) – the artist behind ARCTICNOISE.

Vancouver Art Gallery’s FUSE is a wildly popular event where art, music and performance collide. On August 15, 2015 FUSE will be the site of DISTURBANCE, guest curated by Kate Armstrong and Malcolm Levy in connection with the 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA 2015), one of the world’s most prestigious global festivals presenting work at the intersection of art and technology.

Wednesday, August 19 (6:30 pm to 8:30 pm)
at Native Education College | necvancouver.org
285 E 5th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5T 1H2

This event will include an artist talk by Geronimo Inutiq, a discussion of the curatorial process by Britt Gallpen and Yasmin Nurming-Por, and a presentation by Christine Lalonde, Associate Curator, Indigenous Art, National Gallery of Canada. These will be followed by responses from two local respondents (TBC).
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Media Contact for the exhibition:
Karlene Harvey, grunt gallery | 604-875-9516 or, karlene@grunt.ca

Media Contact for ISEA programming:
Maria Fedorova |isea2015-artinfo@sfu.ca

Funding Acknowledgments:

ARCTICNOISE is co-presented by ISEA and grunt gallery. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, the McLean Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. A very special thank you to VIVO Media Arts Centre and the Native Education College for hosting the panel and workshop forARCTICNOISE.


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Shako Club | Blog Post

grunt gallery is happy to share the following Shako Club experience by Tara Robertson. Be sure to visit her blog.


Here’s the lunch box I received today from Shako Club.

11743007_10153394032260734_6053153501424641400_nI applied to receive a bento box a couple of months ago. The application process was a slightly odd questionnaire that I had some trouble answering. I don’t often get songs stuck in my head and it’s hard to pick my absolute favourite story from my childhood. We were told that our bento contents would be determined by the answers to this questionnaire.

The theme of land, sea, mountains is represented here with:

– top left (land) – chicken karaage, half a boiled egg on lettuce with 2 perfect crunchy cucumber sticks underneath

– top right (sea) red bean jelly made with kanten with a sansho leaves and a wee piece of candied ginger. there was a sliced strawberry hidden under the paper cup that held the jelly.

red bean jelly with ginger and shanso leaves on top that look like a flower

– bottom right (mountain) – veggie gyoza made with okara and spinach goma-ae

– bottom left  – rice with umeboshi

It’s in a gorgeous handmade maple box that’s been oiled with a cute Shako Club stamp on the bottom.

handmade maple bento box

Shako Club stamp

I sat down and Tazuko and I introduced ourselves to each other. There was also a translator who I didn’t introduce myself to until halfway through, which I feel was a bit rude of me. Tazuko talked a little bit about the process that they went through to make the bentos and then invited me to take the lid off and look. She explained the different ingredients and elements of this gorgeous lunch box. I was already familiar with the Japanese ingredients: okara (byproduct of making tofu), sansho leaves and kanten (agar agar).

Tazuko explaining the contents of the lunch box

She asked me if I liked Japanese food and I explained that I’m half Japanese and love Japanese food. I told her that karaage is my favourite and that I have really fond memories of the Japanese food that my Grandma used to make when we would visit each summer. Tazuko told me more about her history. She was born between Osaka and Nara in the mountains, and during the war their family fled their home to Yokohama.

She talked about the Japanese Canadian internment and the impact that WWII had on many Japanese and Japanese Canadian people. She talked about only having rice and umeboshi for lunch when she was a kid. I know how poor Japan was after the war and that for many people this is all they could afford, but hearing this truth from someone I had just met was really emotional for me. I was so touched about how much someone I had just met was sharing about their life with me, a complete stranger. I was also overcome with how lucky and privileged I am right now. I was blinking back tears then I really started crying, which didn’t seem to phase her or the translator. I forgot this cultural difference. In Japan it’s generally not seen as embarrassing to cry when you are extremely moved. In Canada I find that we don’t know what to do when people cry. We are generally uncomfortable with tears and “negative” emotions.

We chatted a bit more and I learned that she came to Canada 40 years ago and married a Nisei Japanese man. I was curious if she had kids but didn’t want to pry, so I didn’t ask.

We were asked to bring something small to gift back to the person we received the lunch box from. In my questionnaire I said that one of my hobbies is gardening. I ended up with a bunch of volunteer purple shiso plants in my community garden plot. I repotted one of these and brought one of the first cloves of garlic I had ever grown this past year. After all, who doesn’t like garlic? Also from living in Japan I know that gifts that can be consumed are often better. Tazuko and I chatted a bit about the connection between the umeboshi in the bento and the purple shies that I gave her—purple shiso is what gives umeboshi it’s colour.

We chatted a bit more. I took a few pictures of Tazuko and the bento she had made and then Cindy Mochizuki came by and said that Tazuko is her mom. Cindy is the artist responsible for this project and someone I’ve been getting to know better over the past year. It was awesome to find out that this amazing woman is her mom. If I had asked if she had kids earlier in the conversation I would have learned this.

I biked down to the seawall and enjoyed my lunch box and was reflecting on some relationships with work colleagues over the past month. I’ve delighted in a bunch of work relationships shifting to be more open and honest where other people have demonstrated courage in sharing stuff about themselves including: mental illness, learning disabilities, gender identity, sexuality, neurodiversity and personal insecurities that are incongruent with how I see them professionally. All of these people didn’t need to disclose these things about themselves but it made it easier for me to understand how they operate and gave me a glimpse of what they might be going through. To me these are acts of courage because they involve unpacking stigma and shame which is a revolutionary act that gives us all a little more room to breathe freely.

(Read the post on Tara Robertson’s blog).

Official Website | Shako Club
grunt gallery | Shako Club Serves Bento Box Lunches with Memories, Stories, and Gratitude

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Shako Club Serves Bento Box Lunches with Memories, Stories, and Gratitude

Shako Club Serves Bento Box Lunches with Memories, Stories, and Gratitude

For Immediate Release –

July 16, 2015 (Vancouver, BC) –  grunt gallery is excited to announce the roll-out for Shako Club’s bento boxes!

Since April, artist Cindy Mochizuki has been working with Japanese elders and membership through Tonari Gumi (Japanese Community Volunteers Association) to create a social setting for a project called Shako Club. This group meets weekly on Thursdays and socializes over recipes, stories, and concepts of wellness philosophies. Every weekly gathering is spent in the kitchen and studio space at Tonari Gumi as the members discuss a variety of themes and topics.

Jokes are shared, members help one another prepare meals, and ideas are explored for the creation of several themed bento boxes. These boxes are given to participants in Vancouver over a special three-week process in July. These culinary compositions follow a traditional Japanese bento box framework that incorporates three elements: Ocean, Land, and Mountain. Careful consideration is given to the selected ingredients, aesthetics, and cultural history.

Participants receiving the bento boxes filled out a unique questionnaire that included queries such as, “Name a Place You Would like to Travel to and Why?”; “Favourite Childhood Taste?”; “The Last Book you Read?”; and “Name One Wish for Yourself.” Shako Club members assigned participants to three separate themed lunches based on their answers.

On Thursday, July 9, twenty Vancouver participants attended the first bento box exchange. Members of Shako Club selected the individual participants for this particular lunch because their questionnaire answers were filled with tenderness, care, love, or nostalgic memories – the bento box theme was, “Romantic”. The lunch included watermelon lime jellies, onigiri comprised of green or purple shiso, ume and nori, cherry tomato roses, and star-shaped jellies and carrots. Each lunch exchange included a handwritten note from the Shako Club member who made their lunch for them on that day.

Participants were asked to bring a symbolic gift that reflected the spirit of reciprocity. Gifts included fruit pies, stones with healing properties, specially written poems, books, dried lavender, stationary, and other items that conveyed thanks for the thoughtful creation of their bento box lunch.

This Thursday, July 16, another bento box exchange occurred. Visit shakoclub.com early next week for a new post that summarizes what transpired today! You can also follow grunt gallery on instagram or search for the hashtag #shakoclub.

Reflections from Shako Club members:

Shako Club taught me how to use your eyes to draw yourself into being interested in food or eating.  Sure there is taste, but it really was about how we use our eyes. How you can take the ordinary to make something new.”
 – Yoshiko Fukushima (translated into English) 

“Another thing that made a lasting impression on me was the time we spent together and that everyone shared the same feelings. I have so many great memories. Every Thursday I hold a lot of hope and I think, ‘What could we do at Shako Club today?’… My heart was excited.”
–Narumi Nakajo (translated into English) 

“I’m usually quite shy and not someone who can work in groups and so when I saw the title “Shako Club” (social club) I thought maybe it would be good for me. And since joining I made friends and learned a lot of recipes.”
– Fumiko Woloshyn (translated into English)


grunt gallery looks forward to the weeks to come and gives a special thanks to our collaborators,Tonari Gumi and the Asian Studies Society. Additionally, grunt gallery gratefully acknowledges Imagine B.C. and the City of Vancouver for making this project possible.

Visit shakoclub.com for photos and more information on this exciting project.

Read more:

Shako Club: How a Box Lunch Made me Cry by Tara Robertson

An article and video on Shako Club by the Nikkei Voice:

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Globe & Mail Article: Al Neil & Carole Itter’s Cabin

Saved from demolition, historic Vancouver cabin needs a new home

Almost five months after it was due to be demolished, an artists’ cabin perched on the edge of Cates Park on Vancouver’s North Shore was instead being prepared for a move on Monday – a hard-won victory for the group of artists who fought to save it. Now they have a new challenge: finding a permanent home for the historic structure.The cabin has been used by Vancouver artists Al Neil and Carole Itter for decades, but after a land sale to Polygon Homes – which is developing the property – the cabin became endangered. An eviction notice was issued with a deadline of Jan. 31.

Read the whole article here.

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