“On this day in…”December 12 2012 Mark…

“On this day in…”
December 12 2012

Mark Mizgala’s Remains

“Artist Mark Mizgala presents posters of pop bottles and other containers coated in slip, creating a look of ancient clay vessels in this off-site exhibition entitled, Remains.  Mizgala investigates contemporary food and beverage packaging, represented as mock archaeological findings.  The artwork appears in a form that is intrinsic to advertising: posters printed on commercial-grade paper and displayed in bus shelters across the city of Vancouver.” (grunt)

“Having worked as an art director for most of his professional career, advertising is familiar territory for Mizgala.  He is fascinated by the corporate machine, its by-products, and the manner in which they are presented in popular culture.  Mizgala immortalizes on film that which is already immortal: garbage, enjoying a particularly long life in our landfills, rivers, and ocean floors.  The poster series is a testament to long-term environmental impact - a sharp contrast to the ephemera of advertising and mass media.” (grunt)

Check out Mark Mizgala’s interview here.

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“On this day in…”November 22nd 1988David…

“On this day in…”
November 22nd 1988
David Ostrem’s Social Criticism - a display of generational rage by a guy born in 1945

Captain Dave in Ostremtime - Art Perry

“If anyone was to ask me where I thought David Ostrem fitted in, I’d proudly say, he doesn’t.  That is one of the refreshing bits about Ostrem.  He’s looking at the same world we are.  He’s listening to the music.  He picks up the same magazines, watches the same newscasts and eats the same packaged food.  The difference is that Captain Dave is in Ostremtime; it’s the same world and it’s the same culture, only David Ostrem, like Billy Pilgrim, is unstuck in time.  Maybe, like Billy in Slaughter-house Five, Ostrem sees himself as prescribing corrective lenses for Earthling souls.  3-D glasses to punch into the past and punch out the present.  Not too far into the past to be irrelevant but just far enough to make sense out of the present.”


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“On this day in…”Blue Moon – October 31st…

“On this day in…”
Blue Moon - October 31st 1989

“The Blue Moon is an amorphous group of Kootenay based artists, writers and people interested in the arts.  A member-run gallery was started in Nelson in August 1985.  Although the gallery closed in December 1986, the Blue Moon has continued to organize exhibits and events, showing what’s not shown, in the Kootenay area.
Artists contributing to the show are LX Forde (painting), Anne Degrace (painting), Gary Ramsbottom (painting), Gustave Russ Yougreen (painting), Judy Wapp (collage), Caroline Woodward (writing), John Cooper (painting) and Linda Mennie (assemblage).” (grunt)


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“On this day in…” February 9, 2001 On this…

“On this day in…”

February 9, 2001

On this day in 2001, artist Alberto Friggo staged a performance in which the audience interacted with a recording he had previously made, which was in turn recorded, to be exhibited alongside the original at a later date.

As the title, Gnocchi, suggests, Friggo made a video recording of himself preparing a pot of the potato-based Italian specialty. Then, as the audience consumes what he produced, they watch the recording of the pasta being prepared. This reaction is itself recorded, thus forming the work’s final iteration: the two videos being played alongside each other. 

Exploring consumption, spectatorship, and the reaction of the subject to being observed, this work is a continuation of Friggo’s exploration of performance art, video art, and the possible interactions between the two.

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“On this day in…”February 9, 2001 – Tomoyo…

“On this day in…”
February 9, 2001 - Tomoyo Ihaya's Garden of Life/Chart of Animism

“Because of my deep desire to explore the origins and co-existence of all living things,  I have a long lasting interest in such subjects as the philosophy of animism, folklore, mythology, and the natural environment.  Through daily contemplation, fascinating symbols of cosmos, natural objects, and old artifacts occur repeatedly in my mind.  I communicated with them and interpret them visually on paper.  Then, each symbol starts relating to the others through channels that together create a chart of wholeness.” (Tomoya Ihaya)

This exhibition features long patch paper murals combining mixed media techniques of papermaking, painting, staining, printmaking and collage and explores animist imagery from folklore and mythologies.  Ihaya’s work is based in printmaking techniques of etching and chine colle.  Her work evokes the natural world and uses archetypal images in a new and exciting way.

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“On this day in…”January 31st 1989 – Phil…

“On this day in…”
January 31st 1989 - Phil Switzer's Creations in Vitro

Technology constantly creates new materials for industry and artists often adapt these products for artistic expression.  The creation of silicone as a caulking for bathroom sinks has become a popular medium for a number of British Columbia artists.  Styrofoam has a number of uses in industry, including insulation, packaging and display materials.  Film and television companies have used styrofoam in set design for several decades.  As a lightweight, workable material that can easily imitate wood, stone and other materials it’s advantage in temporary applications are obvious.  It’s fragility makes long term application more difficult.

Switzer has worked in set design for television, film and theatre since the late 50s.  Over this period he has had extensive workings with styrofoam and has developed a proficiency in realizing the material’s limits.  These sculptures he has encased in plastic plexiglass that protects the figure and furthers the use of high tech materials aesthetic.  His combination of elemental form and manmade materials is useful in expressing the human condition in the late 20th Century.  That he uses the temporary material to produce sculptures of pregnant women furthers it’s symbolisms.” (grunt)


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“On this day in…”January 25th 2007 – ATSA…

“On this day in…”
January 25th 2007 - ATSA Attack #15

“Attack #15 consisted of a Sports Utility Vehicle, which had been installed on a city street, still fuming from its destruction.  Inside, an audio-visual manifesto played continuously.  This hyper-realistic scene and the accompanying video incriminated-all at once- the automobile industry, consumers and governments.  The audience-passerby were engaged in a ‘destabilizing and unequivocal experience whose graphic violence will heighten the public’s awareness of the perverse effects of the veneration of these gas-guzzling, power-hungry vehicles.’  Since Attentat #10, the Attacks have been accompanied by the distribution of Citizen’s Statement of Offence.” (brunt magazine)
“ATSA (Action Terroriste Socialement Acceptable) is an organization founded in 1997 by artists Pierre Allard and Annie Roy to create urban interventions: installations, performances and realistic stagings bearing witness to the various social and environmental aberrations which preoccupy the two artists.  Their works investigate and transform the urban landscape and restore the citizen’s place in the public realm, depicting it as a political space open to discussion and societal debates.  ATSA promotes sustainable development of their society.” (brunt magazine)

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“On this day in…” January 18th 2002 – Different/Diverse -…

"On this day in…"

January 18th 2002 - Different/Diverse - Paolo Ravalico Scerri

"Difference is closely associated with being an outsider, and attached to individuals or groups that do not conform to the norm. There are many negative aspects that usually posit difference, as ‘wrong’ or as a threat to society.  But art has always celebrated difference as something good, innovative and diverse.  Difference is basically something good: what is different fruit in the market, a different suit in a shop window, a different lover in your bed can be - at varying levels of excitement - good things.  Difference initiated the powerful trick of Evolution: the natural selection, mindless but powerfully has succeeded thanks to the wealth provided by the multitudinous differences in nature.  We are ‘naturally’ attracted by what we perceive as different, although judgement of it is suspended until our senses and our brains have assessed and dismissed possible hazards." (grunt)

Different/Divers was curated by Vittorio Urbani and Terry Smith and brought together European video artists from the UK, Finland, Estonia and Italy. The program explored the notions of normalcy and the abnormal. The screenings were co-hosted by grunt and the Western Front and gave a strong look at the what was happening in European video practice at the time.

Different/Divers brings together European video artist from the UK, The screening and exhibitions give a strong look at current European video practice.

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An Image On An Image: A conversation with Marcus Bowcott [ATA article]

A raw steak must be among the least likely of things you’d expect to find in a cardboard box of papers. But that’s exactly what myself and another volunteer found, to our surprise, during an afternoon of work on grunt’s archive a couple of weeks ago. We discovered that the uncannily realistic-looking steak had formed part of a mid-nineties grunt exhibition called Palimpsest, and when the artist behind it, Marcus Bowcott, happened to stop in a few days later, it seemed only natural to catch up with him to discuss his art, personal philosophy, and what he’s doing now.

I took a rainy-day journey out to visit the artist in his studio in peaceful North Vancouver – a town that Bowcott’s long-time partner, Helene, describes as a “bedroom community, separated from agriculture, industry, entertainment”– an exemplification of the separation in the modern world of the facets of our lives, the way in which we work, eat, play and sleep in locations far removed from one another.

The modernization of the human experience is clearly something of combined terror and fascination to Bowcott. As we sipped on tea provided by Helene, who Bowcott describes as “a partner, in so many ways, in developing my work,” the artist described to me a recent trip down to Seattle, during which he was struck by “just the number of cars on the highway… The automobile is gobbling up energy.”

The automobile, in its used-up state as compacted refuse, has been a recurring theme in Bowcott’s work for some time. The painting exhibited at Bowcott’s grad show from London’s Royal College of Art featured wrecked and compacted cars, and since then, he’s explored the theme in sculpture, notably in a piece, 25 Standard Stoppages, currently being featured at Seattle’s Punch Gallery as part of a show, curated by Rock Hushka, titled Whither the American Dream?. He’s also developing a massively scaled-up version of the sculpture for Vancouver’s upcoming Sculpture Biennale, although, as he wryly comments, “people don’t want to show wrecked cars.”

“The bull doesn’t look that big here [in the photo] but he was 1200 pounds, and the whole gallery became like a manger… There were tons of people packed in there, but all of a sudden you’re honoring this animal, something that is often considered to be below us.”

The wrecked cars in question provide Bowcott with a vehicle to examine modern industry and its often unexamined aftermath. He titled a handful of these sculptures Das Kapital, which he explains as “a reference to our surplus capital, our surplus value/goods…which I’m presenting here as wrecked cars”, a leftover of the industrial process upon which most of us will never lay our eyes.

Another, perhaps more tragic, forgotten leftover of the industrial process was featured in Bowcott’s Palimpsest, the show that, years later, would inspire this article. Something amazing was accomplished in addition to the hyper-realistic steak sculptures and paintings of packaged steaks: for one night, the gallery was emptied of breakable artworks, and a live bull was brought in to inhabit the space. Marcus and Helene evocatively described what it was like to experience such a surreal coming-together of incongruities –

“The bull doesn’t look that big here [in the photo] but he was 1200 pounds, and the whole gallery became like a manger… There were tons of people packed in there, but all of a sudden you’re honoring this animal, something that is often considered to be below us. The cave painting [which was projected onto the bull’s body as part of the show] had much to do with feeding people. They were honoring the animal…and today we just shop for meat. We all had to be really quiet to keep it calm; that kind of hush was a really interesting addition to the installation and performance.”

“We live atomized lives,” Helene continues. “With technology, people become more and more isolated from each other. The same thing happens with food production. In many different aspects of our life…we are becoming more and more specialized.”

A critique or exploration of that atomization could be seen to run through Bowcott’s work as a unifying thread, perhaps in a sense of superimposition, of “stacking, or layering,” Helene tells me. “Even Palimpsest, the word, has to do with layering… An image on an image,” she says. A cave painting projected on the side of a bull. Crushed cars on top of cars on top of cars.

Visit Marcus Bowcott’s website.

About Genevieve Michaels:

Genevieve is studying art history and creative writing at the University of British Columbia. She has been volunteering at grunt since last October, writing and assisting with maintenance and digitization of the archives. She also writes about music and city life for local magazine Beatroute BC. Follow her on twitter: @LavenderIndigo0

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“On this day in…”May 5th 1998 – David Ostrem’s “Between…

“On this day in…”
May 5th 1998 - David Ostrem’s “Between Being and Looking”

Since coming to Vancouver in 1969 from his hometown of Portland, Oregon, David Ostrem’s has widely exhibited his work in Vancouver.  His work has had an important influence on contemporary practice in this city as his work can be read on many levels, enabling the viewer to see his works as a “contemplation of life or an exposition on visual meaning.” (Glenn Alteen)

“In these paintings Ostrem attempts to show us how the artists see. They attempt to make connections between art history and popular culture to show their importance in daily life. Seduction is a key in these works. Seduction by popular culture and advertising, art and literature. finally, seduction by the purely visual representations of still life.” (Glenn Alteen)

all images collected from http://davidostrem.com/

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