30th Anniversary Curatorial Statement
As we witness internationally the proliferation of artists’ practices that seek or are influenced by “the social”, and as we consider also our own hyper-local connections here in the Mount Pleasant community, ideas of engagement have been top of mind. In some aspects, it’s a question of support: how can we as curators or institutions support practices that no longer adhere to the traditional expectations of the exhibition? How might forms of engagement be broad, rigorous, unexpected, productive—as well as charismatic? How might we promote spaces of common connection while maintaining challenging content, unique collaborations, and productive friction? No clear answers of course, but in this, as in most things, we turn to artists.
Our program of 30th anniversary artist projects is designed to engage on diverse levels. Focussing on projects that take place outside the gallery walls in public or shared spaces, our intent has been around finding productive intersections between art practices and community concerns—be they spatial, discursive or social.
Our first project is a 3-month long residency with artist Julia Feyrer within our archive, Media Gallery and Main Gallery spaces. Beginning with the idea of “The Kitchen”—at times the creative and social heart of the grunt gallery—Feyrer will create a new installation and media commission that incorporates elements of grunt’s rich archive of performance and exhibition documentation, as well as the lesser known and harder-to-trace narratives of social connection and creative foment that have informed this institution. Process-based and meticulously—if playfully—constructed, Feyrer’s work is both densely material and intellectually airy; that is, her work challenges the viewer to engage both a tactile experience in this present moment, while simultaneously considering the transformative potential of perception, over time and through space. Feyrer’s use of film and sound acts as a conduit for seeing and, importantly, for experiencing an archival document.
As part of a program we’re calling “Brew”, artists Sonny Assu and Lorna Brown have created “social objects”– artist editions that are designed to circulate in the social spaces such as bars or restaurants in Mount Pleasant. Here, engagement is potentially fleeting, but the objects themselves act as small moments of contact—an aesthetic and poetic complement to the fabric of life in this neighbourhood. Brown’s work—a refillable beer growler—specifically calls for a consideration of time and place, and considers the question of cyclical return. Calling to mind questions of history, of habit, of paths built and repeated.
Other Brew projects will be announced later in the season, but each piece places artists into specific conversations with spaces and community members. From embedded residencies within community groups, to artist-designed objects, to intervention practices and artist-led discussions, this series opens a sociable consideration of this neighbourhood, and—we hope—proposes a kind of tenderness for the spaces we share. These porous, attentive practices encourage us to connect, to see differently, to return each time with a new perspective.
– Vanessa Kwan, August 2014
Kitchen by Julia Feyrer