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Inside/Out: the art show my dad never had

Exhibition Title: Inside/Out: the art show my dad never had

Artist: Sue Dong Eng and Mercedes Eng

Opening: February 3, 2024. 3-5pm PST.

Exhibition Dates: February 3 - March 16, 2024

Composed of archival family images, copper etchings in handmade frames, and literary work brought together by familial ties and an impulse to document and collect, this exhibition marks the first art presentation for both Sue Dong Eng and Mercedes Eng. Inside/Out: the art show my dad never had by Sue Dong Eng and Mercedes Eng takes a close and specific look at the life and work of the late Sue Dong, showing images of his family and upbringing focused around vancouver’s Chinatown, while connecting to broader themes of cultural visibility, institutional violence, and community building that are still in flux in this city today. 

Sue Dong’s copper works were created in the carceral facilities he spent most of his adult life going in and out of. Mercedes has gathered and built this collection of archival images and her work – which is inextricably linked to Sue Dong’s as his daughter – intentionally responds to the prison industrial complex she and her family frequently brushed up against, while pushing back at the idea that the colonial nation-state of canada is a multicultural utopia.

Mercedes Eng is a Chinese mixee settler with familial connections to “Vancouver’s” Chinatown that are 100 years deep. She is an artist, poet, prison abolitionist, and a professor at Emily Carr University, where she organizes the On Edge reading series. Mercedes’ writing and art is shaped by lived experience, grounded in community organizing and volunteering, and in service to social and environmental justice. It has been her years-long dream to exhibit her father’s prison artwork as an act of loving care.

Image courtesy of the artist.

Guest curated by Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa and Mercedes Eng.

Digitized Programming:

Publication catalogue:

Coming Soon!

Artist Talk:

On Feb 3, 2024 from 3-5 pm. Event details and registration available here.

Creative Access Audio Tour:

Coming Soon!

Virtual Walkthrough:

Coming Soon!

Daughter, Daughter, Daughter by Sora Park

An archival family photo of Sora Park as an infant, crying, in traditional Korean garments.

Exhibition Title: Daughter, Daughter, Daughter by Sora Park

Artist: Sora Park

Opening: November 23, 2023. 7-9pm PST.

Exhibition Dates: November 23 - January 20, 2023

Sora, you need to give birth to a daughter.”

Inundated by the idea that prosperity and success will come to her once she gives birth to a daughter, Sora Park’s exhibition Daughter, Daughter, Daughter at grunt gallery reflects Korean diasporic experiences through the exploration of Saju, Korea’s ancient form of divination and fortune-telling practice that predicts one’s fate based on the date and time of their birth.

Travelling between the past, present, and future, Park invites the visitors to the gallery space trapped inside a red square on her Saju chart that links her destiny to motherhood. As a happily child-free person, Park delves into how her childhood spent in Korea and her upbringing in a Korean-Canadian household where childbearing is considered a norm collide with her own interpretation of motherhood. 

Daughter, Daughter, Daughter depicts a playful perception of a fortune-telling practice and its claim that the future can seriously be predicted while revealing a tiny fraction of trust and belief in the practice that lures so many people into being participants. By applying aesthetics within Saju to her colourful and immersive installation, the exhibition at grunt gallery explores the relationship between people’s belief in the occult and the role that gender plays in predicting one’s fate.

Sora Park gratefully acknowledges the support from the Canada Council for the Arts for this exhibition. 

Sora Park (She/Her) is a Korean-Canadian interdisciplinary artist living on the traditional territories of the q̓ʷɑ:n̓ƛ̓ən̓ (Kwantlen), q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie), Máthxwi (Matsqui) and Se’mya’me’ (Semiahmoo) First Nations. She received her BFA in Photography from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver and received her MA in Fine Arts from Bergen Academy of Art and Design in Bergen, Norway. In her art practice, she is currently interested in exploring the space between clarity and confusion brought on by diasporic experiences.

Image courtesy of the artist.
This exhibition is curated by Whess Harman.

Digitized Programming:

Publication catalogue:

PDF
A companion catalogue for the exhibition with curatorial text by Whess Harmon, and exhibition response by Areum Kim.
Visual description available: Plain Text, Audio.
A free printed copy is available in gallery while supplies last.

Artist Talk:

This recording is being processed and captioned. Check back soon.
Summary: Recording of the artist Sora Park in conversation with local artist Romi Kim from January 11th, 2024

Creative Access Audio Tour:

Creative Access Audio Tour of the exhibition. Link opens on SoundCloud (external link).
Listen to a visually described tour of Daughter, Daughter, Daughter, written by Sora Park with support from Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa and Kay Slater, and narrated by Kay Slater.
Transcript available: Google Doc, Plain Text, PDF

Virtual Walkthrough:

360° digital tour of the exhibition.

Enticed and Entangled en algo Antiguo by Francisco Berlanga

Exhibition Title: Enticed and Entangled en algo Antiguo by Francisco Berlanga

Artist: Francisco Berlanga

Opening: September 14th, 2023

Exhibition Dates: September 15th - November 4th, 2023

In Enticed and Entanged en algo Antiguo, Francisco Berlanga’s work approaches weaving and textiles as a metaphor for culture making. He describes memories as threads, “moments spun together to create some form of continuity.” Working from motifs inspired by the versatility of the inconsistencies of fibrous materials used in making serapes and childhood family picnics, Berlanga weaves together culture and memory through the materiality of a combination of live plants and commonly found construction material. In this work, the laborious process of weaving live grasses explores his identity as something that is rooted, but gives way to the challenges of formulating a cohesive but imperfect whole. These works invite the audience to think through time, of the weavings as maze-like in their pattern and process and embedding them within an installation of casually draped domestic textile and stone pavers of in-process and impromptu construction wherein visitors may be themselves threads within the work.

Francisco Berlanga is a contemporary textile artist who studied at Simon Fraser University. He obtained his BFA in Visual Arts and he is currently working towards completing his MFA at UBC. His practice is based on questioning identity, particularly his connection with his own Mexican culture and how one can inhabit a culture while being partially absent from it. He engages in discourse with his own identity through the creation of traditional Mexican “manualidades” that often take the form of textile works; weaving has become essential to his practice. His work makes connections between traditional Mexican aesthetics and contemporary visual language. His practice engages with concepts of inaccessibility and the role memory and language can play when someone is distanced from their own culture. He attempts to bridge the gaps between his personal and cultural identities by forcing connections between them and trying to understand the limitations that these identities impose upon each other. Francisco was also a founding member of Withintensions, a monthly Vancouver-based artists magazine, and he is currently artistic director for the magazine. His goal through the publication is to cultivate an accessible space for art theory that engages local arts communities through publication.

This exhibition is curated by Whess Harman.

Digitized Programming:

Publication catalogue:

PDF
A companion catalogue for the exhibition with curatorial text by Whess Harmon, and exhibition response by Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa.
Visual description available: Plain Text, Audio.
A free printed copy is available in gallery while supplies last.

Artist Talk:

Francisco Berlanga’s artist talk. Link opens on vimeo with English captions and transcript via google docs.
Summary: Artist talk with Francisco Berlanga at the opening of their solo exhibition on October 10th, 2023.

Francisco’s Introduction to Live Weaving workshop. Link opens on vimeo and is available with English captions and transcript via google docs.
Summary: October 24th, 2023. This live workshop presented instructions on how to make a miniature version of the live weaving technique used in the work While The Wefts Were Woven, presented at grunt gallery in 2023. This technique involves creating a small loom structure in a planter and then weaving this structure using twine, grass and vines. This live weaving will continue to grow beyond this workshop and you can continue to weave it as it grows.

Creative Access Audio Tour:

Creative Access Audio Tour of the exhibition. Link opens on SoundCloud (external link).
Haga clic aquí para escuchar el tour por audio de acceso creativo de la exposición en español.
Listen to a visually described tour of Enticed and Entangled en algo Antiguo, written by Francisco Berlanga, Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa, and Christina Kim. It is narrated by Francisco Berlanga. Spanish creative access tour written and narrated by Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa.
English transcript available: Google Doc, Plain Text, PDF

Virtual Walkthrough:

360° digital tour of the exhibition. Link opens on matterport.com
Click play on the video below to explore a 360° tour of the exhibition.

 

Image: While The Wefts Were Woven by Francisco Berlanga (2020-2021). Grass, sisal fibre. Image courtesy of the artist.

Syncretic Birthrights by Odera Igbokwe

Exhibition Title: Syncretic Birthrights by Odera Igbokwe

Artist: Odera Igbokwe

Opening: May 12th, 2023

Exhibition Dates: May 12th-July 8th, 2023

Syncretic Birthrights brings together a series of both new and previous work from painter and illustrator Odera Igbokwe. Central to Igbokwe’s work is the idea of possibility and transformation, especially for QTBIPOC communities. These works are part of a continuing collection that blend together Nigerian and afro-diasporic folklore and traditions, reclaiming and recontextualizing them into a series of syncretized paintings reflecting the many ways culture becomes harmonized within one’s identity while still responding to communal needs of storytelling and connection within art. Their paintings celebrate sexuality and gender variance in the face of postcolonial homophobia through vibrant colours, and mythological figures presented with striking grace and speaking towards an unwavering spirit of Black resilience, joy and magic.

Odera Igbokwe (they/them) is an illustrator and painter located on the unceded and traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Odera was born of Igbo parents who immigrated to the lands of the Lenape people. As a result they are constantly excavating, responding, and envisioning in spite of the fractures that occur via diaspora. Their artwork is an exploration of storytelling through Afro-diasporic spiritualism, Black resilience, magical girl transformation sequences, and redefining the archetypal hero’s journey. More specifically, they are intrigued by Nigerian spiritualism, folklore, and sacred practices, and how that relates to contemporary communities across the Americas.

Their artwork weaves together ancient narratives with Afrofuturist visions to explore present day embodiment. It explores the magic of the Black Queer imagination, and questions how to build a home from an intersectional lens. Ultimately these works are a gateway to healing from collective and generational traumas, and assert that healing can be a celebration of joy, mundanity, pain, and fantasy coexisting. As an artist, Odera works with clients and galleries to create work that is deeply personal, soulful, and intersectional. They have created personal works and commissions for Beyoncé, Solange Knowles, Oumou Sangaré, and Dawn Richard. Odera’s work has been exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Anthropology at UBC, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, grunt gallery, Burrard Arts Foundation, The James Black Gallery and SUM Gallery.

Image: The Volcano by Odera Igbokwe. Courtesy of the artist.

This exhibition is curated by Whess Harman.

Digitized Programming:

Publication catalogue:

PDF
A companion catalogue for the exhibition with curatorial text by Whess Harmon, and exhibition response by Nya Lewis.
Visual description available: Plain Text, Audio.
A free printed copy is available in gallery while supplies last.

Artist Talk:

Odera Igbokwe’s artist talk. Link opens on vimeo with English captions and transcript via google docs.
Summary: Artist talk with Odera at the opening of their solo exhibition on May 12th, 2023.

Creative Access Audio Tour:

Creative Access Audio Tour of the exhibition. Link opens on SoundCloud (external link).
Listen to a visually described tour of Syncretic Birthrights, written by Kay Slater and Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa, and Christina Kim. It is narrated by Kay Slater.
English transcript available: Google Doc, Plain Text, PDF

Virtual Walkthrough:

360° digital tour of the exhibition. Link opens on matterport.com
Click play on the video below to explore a 360° tour of the exhibition.

Ladykiller the Maneater by Alison Bremner

Exhibition Title: Ladykiller the Maneater by Alison Bremner

Artist: Alison Bremner

Opening: March 16th, 7-9 PM

Exhibition Dates: March 16-April 29, 2023

In the exhibition Ladykiller the Maneater, Tlingit artist Alison Bremner brings forward the experiences of an imagined deity who has existed in a dream-state for a very long time—so long that no one is certain even of what she was the deity of anymore. The eel in Tlingit culture was considered too “lowly” a creature to eat and therefore largely ignored. But eventually, Ladykiller could not ignore the world of men, and was awoken from her subterranean slumber and emerged to traverse and experience this new world around her.

For Bremner, culture is not stagnant. Through contact and technological revolution, Tlingit culture is constantly adapting, observing and searching for its place in the world, just as any other. Ladykiller the Maneater is both a manifestation of trauma and a means of processing it; Bremner envisions her as loving and gentle in her most natural state but highly carnivorous when agitated. Bremner’s paintings demonstrate both the love and bite of the artist’s humour and her penchant to draw from all aspects of contemporary Indigenous identity without assigning much attention to the discourse of traditional vs contemporary. Bremner’s work is not exotic but lived in, felt and able to weave through the cacophony of abrupt awakenings and disruption.

Alison O. Bremner is a Tlingit artist born and raised in Southeast Alaska. Bremner is believed to be the first Tlingit woman to carve and raise a totem pole. She has studied under master artists David R. Boxley and David A. Boxley in Kingston, Washington. Painting, woodcarving, regalia and digital collage are a few of the mediums the artist employs. In addition to her contemporary art practice, Bremner is committed to the revitalization of the Tlingit language and creating works for traditional and ceremonial use.

Her work is included in the permanent collections of, among others, the Burke Museum, Seattle; Portland Art Museum, Oregon; Château Musée Boulogne-sur-Mer, France; Frye Art Museum, Seattle; and the British Museum in London.

Image: Courtesy of the artist.

This exhibition is curated by Whess Harman.

Digitized Programming:

Publication catalogue:

PDF
A companion catalogue for the exhibition with curatorial text by Whess Harmon.
Visual description available: Plain Text, Audio.
A free printed copy is available in gallery while supplies last.

Artist Talk:

Alison Bremner’s artist talk. Link opens on vimeo with English captions and transcript via google docs.
Summary: Artist talk with Alison on April 19th, 2023, recorded on Zoom.

Creative Access Audio Tour:

Creative Access Audio Tour of the exhibition. Audio currently unavailable.
A visually described tour of Ladykiller the Maneater, written by Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa, with assistance from Kay Slater.
English transcript available: Google Doc, Plain Text, PDF

Virtual Walkthrough:

360° digital tour of the exhibition. Link opens on matterport.com
Click play on the video below to explore a 360° tour of the exhibition.

Three Way Mirror

Exhibition Title: Three Way Mirror

Artist: Daniel Barrow, Glenn Gear and Paige Gratland

Opening: December 1st 2022

Exhibition Dates: December 2nd 2022—January 21st 2023

As three Generation X storytellers with a shared affinity for queer reclamation strategies and decorative craft traditions, Daniel Barrow, Glenn Gear and Paige Gratland began collaborating in the summer of 2018 at the Intergenerational LGBT Residency at Gibraltar Point, Toronto Island. Expanding this connection, the artists came together at Eastern Edge in St John’s this past summer, where they engaged local community as a queer craft circle, exploring a skillsharing approach to creative exchange.

In a third iteration of their collaborative relationship, Barrow, Gear and Gratland will spend two weeks in the grunt space in advance of the exhibition opening, sharing practices and bringing together their work for Three Way Mirror. Shaped by the upheavals and isolation of the last 3 years, the artists will explore in situ the intimacy created when people work creatively together. It is a multi-faceted curiosity: the material intelligence of paper cutting, leather-work, weaving and beading–born in each of their practices through years of learning, intergenerational exchange and queer support networks–intersects with time-based storytelling, animation and documentary film. Woven throughout is a conversation with each other and the wider community, and Three Way Mirror finds in their shared sensibilities (and distinct practices) a space for queer craft legacies to be created, shared and have their stories told.

This exhibition is curated by Whess Harman.

Daniel Barrow is a genderfluid, Montreal-based storyteller/artist who has employed parallel strategies in their approach to the tradition of paper dolls – inventing “narrative architectures” that grapple with the dollhouse/paper doll as an instrument of conventional heteronormative, gender binary instruction. Barrow’s queer miniatures can initially seem romantic, borderline-nostalgic and functionally somewhat straight-forward. Part of their working method, however, involves introducing narrative and pictorial elements to the domestic miniature object – transforming it into a sculptural ode to the decorative, the transfeminine, the beautiful, the miniaturized and the minor.

Glenn Gear is an interdisciplinary artist of Inuit and settler ancestry, born in Corner Brook Newfoundland and with ancestral ties to the homeland of Nunatsiavut, Northern Labrador. Gear has been working in hand-beaded objects and small shadow boxes, combining Inuit material practice with his own intimate processes and approaches, which convey latent queer realities in traditional patterns. Working in beadwork and sealskin, Gear has begun incorporating satin, lace, sequins and other signifiers of queer culture to embrace personal and cultural connections between land, people, and animals through research-based creation. His handcrafted beadwork and animated films incorporate layers of meaning derived from materials, collage, and craft techniques, seen through an Indigiqueer lens.

Paige Gratland is a visual artist and filmmaker. Her work is informed by social history and design, producing projects and objects that explore craft practices, intergenerational exchange and colour narratives. She learned to weave in 2019 at the Richmond Weavers and Spinners Guild (British Columbia) and is currently enrolled in the Master Weaver Program at Olds College (Alberta).

Digitized Programming:

Creative Access Audio Tour:

Creative Access Audio Tour of the exhibition. Audio currently unavailable.
Listen to a visually described tour of Three Way Mirror, written By Kay Slater and Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa, narrated by Kay Slater.
English transcript available: Google Doc

Virtual Walkthrough:

In 2022, we provided our visitors with the opportunity to walkthrough this exhibition via a 360° experience. While no longer available or interactive, this is a short video of the experience so visual audiences can experience the layout of the space.

Image: Rose Garden Poem (detail) by Daniel Barrow, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

Mullyanne Nîmito by Cheyenne Rain LeGrande

Exhibition Title: Mullyanne Nîmito by Cheyenne Rain LeGrande

Artist: Cheyenne Rain LeGrande

Opening: September 17th, 7pm

Exhibition Dates: September 17th-October 29th, 2022

This solo exhibition by Cheyenne Rain LeGrande ᑭᒥᐊᐧᐣ , Mullyanne Nîmito, showcases several previous video performance works, as well as a new piece developed for this exhibition. LeGrande’s oeuvre presents striking, difficult-to-resist-for-the-‘Gram moments but is held tightly with her love for the hybrid space between both traditional and contemporary Indigenous culture. In this exhibition, LeGrande brings together language, pull tabs and the transference of familial craft knowledges to deliver visceral performances across grief and into reclamation. Striking somewhere between fashion glam and land-based practices, LeGrande, a recent alumni of ECUAD, returns to the coast in high-style, ever sick and standing always at least three-inches taller in her signature platforms.

Cheyenne Rain LeGrande ᑭᒥᐊᐧᐣ is a Nehiyaw Isko artist, from Bigstone Cree Nation. She currently resides in Amiskwaciy Waskahikan also known as Edmonton, Alberta. Cheyenne graduated from Emily Carr University with her BFA in Visual Arts in 2019. Her work often explores history, knowledge and traditional practices. Through the use of her body and language, she speaks to the past, present and future. Cheyenne’s work is rooted in the strength to feel, express and heal. Bringing her ancestors with her, she moves through installation, photography, video, sound, and performance art.

This exhibition is curated by Whess Harman.

Events:

Saturday, September 17th at grunt gallery, 7-9 PM: Exhibition opening.

Wednesday, September 21st at Western Front, 7:30 PM: Maskisin ᒪᐢᑭᓯᐣ and Rinse: An evening of performance with Cheyenne Rain LeGrande and Amrita Hepi.

Digitized Programming:

Publication catalogue:

PDF
A companion catalogue for the exhibition with curatorial text by Whess Harmon, and exhibition response by Justin Ducharme.
Visual description available: Plain Text, Audio.
A free printed copy is available in gallery while supplies last.

Creative Access Audio Tour:

Creative Access Audio Tour of the exhibition. Link opens on SoundCloud (external link).
Listen to a visually described tour of Mullyanne Nimito, written By Kay Slater and Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa, narrated by Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa. Edited by Dustyn Krasowski-Olmstead.
English transcript available: Google Doc, Plain Text, PDF

Virtual Walkthrough:

In 2022, we provided our visitors with the opportunity to walkthrough this exhibition via a 360° experience. While no longer available or interactive, this is a short video of the experience so visual audiences can experience the layout of the space.

Image: Grieving with the Land (still) by Cheyenne Rain LeGrande, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

Terremoto

Exhibition Title: Terremoto

Artist: Michelle Campos Castillo

Opening: July 8th, 6-9pm

Exhibition Dates: July 9th-August 13th, 2022

On October 10th 1986, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck El Savador’s capital city of San Salvador. It was a defining moment in a decade of unrest: 6 years into a civil war that would continue on through the early nineties, the earthquake added devastating punctuation to an already fractured political and cultural landscape.

The ground shifted, and out of reach of falling debris, a hammock swung.

Terremoto is an exhibition by Edmonton-based artist, designer and illustrator Michelle Campos Castillo. Based on her own memories of living through the 1986 earthquake, Castillo’s work combines graphic representation of childhood experiences—she was 3 years old at the time —with other forms of memory work: audio interviews, archival materials and video recordings of her mother, sisters and father. The exhibition evades the sharp edged, front page narrative of natural disaster, and softens instead into a body of work that encircles a moment in time with overlapping narratives of community care. The woven hammock—a Salvadoran staple— became a place of refuge for Castillo and her sisters, as they slept outside to avoid the danger of crumbling architectures. As a tool and a metaphor for survival, its intertwined supports mirror a community and a family structure whose dimension Castillo intimately explores.

Terremoto consists of site-specific wall pieces, installation, audio and video media works and a publication. Materials will be available in both Spanish and English. This is the artist’s first exhibition in Vancouver.

Michelle Campos Castillo is a Salvadoran visual artist living in Edmonton. She has been the recipient of  several public art commissions from the City of Edmonton, including Platanos, a set of three sculptures on permanent display at Belvedere Transit Centre, and is currently producing artwork for the LRT Valley Line in the west end of the city. A frequent collaborator with artist Vivek Shraya, she has provided art direction and photography for Vivek’s Trisha photo series, graphic design for her Lambda Literary Award-nominated book, What I Love About Being QUEER, and VS Books, the artist’s imprint with Arsenal Pulp Press.

Terremoto is curated by Vanessa Kwan.

Digitized Programming:

Publication catalogue:

PDF
A companion catalogue for the exhibition with curatorial text by Vanessa Kwan, an exhibition essay by Michelle Campos Castillo, and interviews of Michelle and her family in English and Spanish.
Visual description available: Plain Text, Audio.
A free printed copy is available in gallery while supplies last.

Artist Talk:

Michelle Campos Castillo’s artist talk. Link opens on vimeo with English captions and transcript via google docs.
Summary: Artist talk with Michelle on July 8th, 2023.

Creative Access Audio Tour:

Creative Access Audio Tour of the exhibition. Link opens on SoundCloud (external link).
tour por audio de acceso creativo. El enlace se abre en SoundCloud (enlace externo).
Listen to a visually described tour of Terremoto, written and narrated by Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa in English and Spanish.
English transcript available: Google Doc, Plain Text, PDF
Transcripción en español disponible: Google Doc

Virtual Walkthrough:

In 2022, we provided our visitors with the opportunity to walkthrough this exhibition via a 360° experience. While no longer available or interactive, this is a short video of the experience so visual audiences can experience the layout of the space.

Image: Terremoto by Michelle Campos Castillo. Photo by Dennis Ha.

An Insufficient Record: The photo-ethics of preserving Black Vancouver

Exhibition Title: An Insufficient Record: The photo-ethics of preserving Black Vancouver

Artist: Curated by Nya Lewis

Opening: Thursday May 19th, 7PM

Exhibition Dates: May 20th—June 18th, 2022

An Insufficient Record: The photo-ethics of preserving Black Vancouver, curated by Nya Lewis, theorizes the afterlife of the City of Vancouver photographic archive concerning the history of insufficient representation of Black Vancouverites and their lives in public space. A conduit for dialogical and collaborative collecting methodologies, the exhibit intervenes with the archive, outlining a curatorial approach that identifies, contextualizes, and makes accessible reflections of the multiplicity of Blackness in Vancouver. Re-presenting and re-positioning 17 gelatin mugshots acquired from the City of Vancouver archive, An Insufficient Record malleablizes the varying vital relationships between the image and its object of representation, assessing the photographic constructions of race, the politics of human rights, identity formations, national narratives, and cultural memory. Juxtaposed within a new and speculatively valuable resource, the mugshots are presented with 50 portraits of Black and African self-identifying people, taken with clear subject autonomy, assembled from official municipal and provincial holdings, public arts and culture organizations, as well as special collections.

Challenging the insufficient depository of knowledge contributing to the historical trajectory of restricting representations of Blackness to caricature, ethnographic object, or criminal, the exhibit takes on a kind of cultural translation, examining the possibilities and structural limitations of transforming penal spectatorship to a participatory re-shaping and reading of the carceral images. An Insufficient Record exposes the strategic erasure of nuanced Black representation which enables the City of Vancouver’s insufficient fonds to exist without question or complication, speculating the role of curation and documentation in supporting collective movements beyond the public archive, visualizing and reinforcing Black personal, political, and social presence. The curatorial space making gesture imagines a system of photographic presentation and organization that engages Black Vancouver communities in the re-representation of their histories and responds to the demand to participate in national discourses of belonging, both to Canada’s past and present, readdressing historiographical challenges and their impact on archival record.

Click here to access a PDF of the exhibition catalog.

Click here to access a 360° virtual tour of the exhibition.

Click here to access a curatorial audio tour of the exhibition, written and narrated by Nya Lewis.

Public Events:

  • Opening and Curator’s Talk: Thursday May 19, 6pm.
  • Nya Lewis in Conversation with Photographer david george: Friday May 27, 7pm.

Nya Lewis’ hybrid interdisciplinary practice is a culmination of centuries of African resistance, love, questions, actions, study and embrace rooted in the theorization of the conditions of Black cultural production. The artist sees her practice as a continuation of a long lineage of work undertaken by Black artists, curators, writers, activists and thinkers who blaze(d) a trail of critical discourse surrounding the Black experience. Lewis’ creative practice reflects upon the diversity of Black diasporic experiences and its many forms of expression. As such, she works across the disciplines of art making, curating and writing. Her work is multivalent in form and expression but is always driven by the reimagining and reclaiming of community.

Lewis is currently; an MFA candidate at OCAD University (2022 graduate), a freelance critic and lecturer published with the Polygon Gallery, Dunlop Gallery, Capture, Femme Art Review and Canadian Art. She is the Year-round Programmer at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Guest programmer at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Curator in residence at grunt gallery, Research Assistant at the Center for the Study of Black Canadian Diaspora, Guest curator at UBC Museum of Anthropology, a board member of BLAC, Co-director of Ref. Gallery of African Descent, and AfroQueer Vancouver.

grunt gallery gratefully acknowledges exhibition support from the Hamber Foundation and the City of Vancouver Cultural Grants Program.

Image: From B.B.U.N.O. (Building Bridges Untitled Number One), flyer for Soul-Resurreccion Performance Series, April 1994, Pitt Gallery. Collection of david george.

An Insufficient Record: The Photo Ethics of Preserving Black Vancouver

Exhibition Title: An Insufficient Record: The Photo Ethics of Preserving Black Vancouver

Artist: Curated by Nya Lewis

Opening: Thursday May 19th, 7PM

Exhibition Dates: May 20th—June 18th, 2022

An Insufficient Record: The Photo Ethics of Preserving Black Vancouver, curated by Nya Lewis, theorizes the afterlife of the City of Vancouver photographic archive concerning the history of insufficient representation of Black Vancouverites and their lives in public space. A conduit for dialogical and collaborative collecting methodologies, the exhibit intervenes with the archive, outlining a curatorial approach that identifies, contextualizes, and makes accessible reflections of the multiplicity of Blackness in Vancouver. Re-presenting and re-positioning 17 gelatin mugshots acquired from the City of Vancouver archive, An Insufficient Record malleablizes the varying vital relationships between the image and its object of representation, assessing the photographic constructions of race, the politics of human rights, identity formations, national narratives, and cultural memory. Juxtaposed within a new and speculatively valuable resource, the mugshots are presented with 50 portraits of Black and African self-identifying people, taken with clear subject autonomy, assembled from official municipal and provincial holdings, public arts and culture organizations, as well as special collections.

Challenging the insufficient depository of knowledge contributing to the historical trajectory of restricting representations of Blackness to caricature, ethnographic object, or criminal, the exhibit takes on a kind of cultural translation, examining the possibilities and structural limitations of transforming penal spectatorship to a participatory re-shaping and reading of the carceral images. An Insufficient Record exposes the strategic erasure of nuanced Black representation which enables the City of Vancouver’s insufficient fonds to exist without question or complication, speculating the role of curation and documentation in supporting collective movements beyond the public archive, visualizing and reinforcing Black personal, political, and social presence. The curatorial space making gesture imagines a system of photographic presentation and organization that engages Black Vancouver communities in the re-representation of their histories and responds to the demand to participate in national discourses of belonging, both to Canada’s past and present, readdressing historiographical challenges and their impact on archival record.

Public Events:

  • Opening and Curator’s Talk: Thursday May 19, 6pm. Registration is required, click here to register.
  • Nya Lewis in Conversation with Photographer david george: Friday May 27, 7pm. Registration is required, click here to register.

Nya Lewis’ hybrid interdisciplinary practice is a culmination of centuries of African resistance, love, questions, actions, study and embrace rooted in the theorization of the conditions of Black cultural production. The artist sees her practice as a continuation of a long lineage of work undertaken by Black artists, curators, writers, activists and thinkers who blaze(d) a trail of critical discourse surrounding the Black experience. Lewis’ creative practice reflects upon the diversity of Black diasporic experiences and its many forms of expression. As such, she works across the disciplines of art making, curating and writing. Her work is multivalent in form and expression but is always driven by the reimagining and reclaiming of community.

Lewis is currently; an MFA candidate at OCAD University (2022 graduate), a freelance critic and lecturer published with the Polygon Gallery, Dunlop Gallery, Capture, Femme Art Review and Canadian Art. She is the Year-round Programmer at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Guest programmer at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Curator in residence at grunt gallery, Research Assistant at the Center for the Study of Black Canadian Diaspora, Guest curator at UBC Museum of Anthropology, a board member of BLAC, Co-director of Ref. Gallery of African Descent, and AfroQueer Vancouver.

grunt gallery gratefully acknowledges exhibition support from the Hamber Foundation and the City of Vancouver Cultural Grants Program.

Image: From B.B.U.N.O. (Building Bridges Untitled Number One), flyer for Soul-Resurreccion Performance Series, April 1994, Pitt Gallery. Collection of david george.

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