pi’tawkewaq | our people up river

Exhibition Title: pi’tawkewaq | our people up river

Artist: Meagan Musseau

Opening: Thursday, March 5th, 2020, 7-9pm

Exhibition Dates: March 6th - April 11th, 2020

The gallery closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic before this exhibition was finished. We were saddened not to be able to share this exhibition with you in person, however we created a virtual tour video of the exhibition, and the publication is available here: pi’tawkewaq_our people up river_Musseau_grunt gallery

For her first solo exhibition in Vancouver, Meagan Musseau presents a body of work from her ongoing research responding to Beothuk and Mi’kmaq visual culture. Musseau uses a multi-disciplinary practice that involves archival research, land-based action, video, drawing, and sculpture to explore land, language, and design. By telling stories about cultural belongings from the perspective of a contemporary L’nu woman living on Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland), Musseau’s work transfers knowledge from archived collections into contemporary visual consciousness.

A braided sculpture made during a land-based action in Musseau’s home region of Elmastukwek (Bay of Islands, NL) forms the physical and conceptual center of the exhibition. While the act of endurance required to create the 22 foot braid connects to stories and nomadic histories of the Mi’kmaq, the object itself carries the history of the land in its creation. A series of tall sculptures rendered in engraved plexiglass reference Beothuk caribou bone pendants that Musseau visited during museum research. Evoking the artist’s experience of visiting cultural belongings through plexiglass cases, the sculptures re/awaken their designs by enlarging them to a human scale and presence. A site specific wall installation integrates the material qualities of the braid with graphic elements from the pendant designs. These textures surround an image of Musseau beside one of Santu Toney, a woman living in the early 1900s with mixed Mi’kmaw and Beothuk ancestry. Musseau’s work seeks to honour Santu by highlighting the transmission of knowledge that exists between past, present, and future generations.

pi’tawkewaq | our people up river presents contemporary cultural belongings that index and render tangible Musseau’s active practice of building and maintaining her relationships to land and ancestor artists. She uses her perspective to overturn colonial narratives of disappearance and instead addresses the role of interterritorial relationships between the two nations as a guiding methodology.

This exhibition received support from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. The artist would also like to acknowledge Grenfell Art Gallery and the Makerspace in Corner Brook, NL.

Meagan Musseau is an L’nu artist from the Mi’kmaq Nation. Her practice is rooted in Elmastukwek, Ktaqmkuk territory (Bay of Islands, Western Newfoundland) and extends to other areas of Mi’kma’ki and Wabanaki territory. Musseau nourishes an interdisciplinary practice by working with customary art forms and new media, such as basketry, beadwork, land-based performance, video and installation. She focuses on creating artwork, dancing, learning the Mi’kmaw language, and facilitating workshops as a way to actively participate in survivance. Her work has been exhibited at AKA artist-run centre, Saskatoon; Eastern Edge Gallery, St. John’s; VOX centre de l’image contemporaine, Montreal; Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff; and Kelowna Art Gallery, among others. She has been supported by numerous awards, and featured in publications such as Canadian Art, Border Crossings, and Visual Arts News. Meagan is working towards solo exhibitions at TRUCK Contemporary Art Gallery (Calgary 2020) and Ociciwan Contemporary Art Centre (Edmonton, 2020/21).

Laurie White is a curator and writer from Sheffield, England. She holds an MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies from the University of British Columbia. Her thesis exhibition project at Or Gallery, We Built a House Out of the Things We Had Gathered, explored salvage and bricolage as modes of ecological practice in contemporary art. She has curated exhibitions at the fifty fifty arts collective, Victoria; AHVA Gallery, UBC; and Western Gallery, Bellingham. She co-edited the catalogue Beau Dick: Devoured by Consumerism (Figure 1 Publishing) for Fazakas Gallery and her writing will appear in the forthcoming catalogue, Beginning with the Seventies published by the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. Laurie is currently the Assistant Curator at the Or Gallery.


Exhibition Title: BAIT

Artist: Couzyn van Heuvelen

Opening: Thursday, January 9th, 2020, 7pm - 9pm

Exhibition Dates: January 10th - February 22nd, 2020

Couzyn van Heuvelen’s work is a reinterpretation and reimagining of Inuit hunting and fishing implements. The sculptural works draw upon the artist’s relationship to Inuit tradition and land-based material culture and technology. Through his artistic process, the artist manipulates material – aluminum, glass, steel –  to elaborate and distinguish the unique aesthetics and creative currency derived from utilitarian objects that define the maker. BAIT is a platform for the artist to further investigate his relationships and lived experience of his culture and identity through rendered artworks related to Inuit survival and sovereignty. The works in BAIT tease out the language of hunting, innovation and traditional practices through a framework of scale, materials and abstraction that is still uniquely Inuit. Through the presentation of van Heuvelen’s work, the exhibition addresses issues related to the transitional experiences between north and south, food sovereignty and the binaries of art, craft and function.

Couzyn van Heuvelen is an Inuk sculptor and installation artist originally from Iqaluit, NU, currently based in Bowmanville, Ontario. van Heuvelen received his BFA from York University in 2011 and his MFA in 2015 from NSCAD University. His artistic practice primarily consists of sculptural and installation works that draw from both art history and Inuit life. Across his varied pieces, he fuses traditional practices and forms with contemporary materials and fabrication processes.

Ryan Rice, Kanien’kehá:ka of Kahnawake, is an independent curator and the Associate Dean, Academic Affairs in the Faculty of Liberal Arts / School of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) University (Toronto, ON). His curatorial career spans 25 years in museums, artist run centres and galleries.

BAIT is curated by Ryan Rice. The exhibition is supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

There will be an artist talk at grunt gallery on January 11th, 2020, noon – 2pm.


Image: Couzyn van Heuvelen, Avataq, screen-printed mylar, ribbon, aluminum, helium, 2016.

a sentimental dissidence

Exhibition Title: a sentimental dissidence

Artist: Gabi Dao

Opening: October 31st, 2019, 7pm - 9pm

Exhibition Dates: November 1st - December 14th, 2019

“How do you remember the past the most?”

Equal parts family recollection, historical research and spectral diary, Coco Means Ghost forms the moving image focal point of Gabi Dao’s new installation.

Rooted in Dao’s research along the Mekong Delta and her own family’s history between cultures, a sentimental dissidence employs sculpture, video and sound to put imagined contemporary and historical diasporic voices in conversation. At the centre of the exhibition is a haunting: the eponymous narrator (a ghost in the form of a coconut) resists a singular place and time, moving freely, if not lightly, through personal photographs, contemporary commentary and archival material. Other characters appear– Lan, Ong Nam, Mr.Le, Quang, An, Nguyen and Dung–and together they tell the fragmented story of Ong Dao Dua ( ‘Mr.Coconut’), a monk who founded a small, self-sustaining, anti-war community in the late 1960s-70’s on Con Phung, an island colloquially known to westerners as the “Coconut Kingdom.” Through the lens of Ong Dao Dua’s oft-mythologized character, the work becomes an avenue to explore and enmesh broader notions of memory, nationhood, belief, belonging and dreams for the future.

Dao combines the single-channel video with sonically activated sculptures that transmit her family’s narrative in another form: excerpts from “Foreign Accent Improvement” cassettes used by the artist’s parents in the 1980s. a sentimental dissidence points to texture and poetics rather than conclusive fact, and creates a landscape that at once immerses, entangles and pushes back.

Gabi Dao is an artist and co-organizer at Duplex, a DIY project space + studio collective based the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. She is interested in the insistence of counter-memory and fragmentation through the pursuit of sculpture, installation, sound, aural publishing, music and moving image.  She has recently shown her in various contexts such as the Images Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Artspeak, Coop Radio, the internet, a rootftop parking lot, Western Front, The National Music Centre and Unit 17.

Curated by Vanessa Kwan.

1. coco means ghost: Screen & Video, 25m24s, followed by a short pause. HD video, 2.1 sound, LED lights, cans of coconut water, photograph, bench & pillows.
2. you and i, i and you: Sculptures & Audio, 6m30s, followed by a short pause. Beaded curtains, UV reducing window vinyl, transducers, tempered glass, aluminum.

Hearing Access: Un-captioned English audio, some subtitled Vietnamese (written in English).
Sight Access: Low light conditions

Exhibition floor plan and accessibility info PDF.

Image: Gabi Dao, Coco Means Ghost, 2019

A study in restraint, nanlaban

Exhibition Title: A study in restraint, nanlaban

Artist: Anton Cu Unjieng

Opening: Thursday, September 5, 2019 7PM

Exhibition Dates: September 6 to October 19, 2019

grunt gallery presents A study in restraint, nanlaban, curated by Glenn Alteen.

Anton Cu Unjieng’s intricately taped, fired, and stacked ceramics are a response to recent political actions in his homeland in the Philippines. The Duterte regime’s mass killings have been officially classified as nanlaban, Filipino for ‘fought back.’ The stack arrangements in Cu Unjieng’s work are not only a monument to the regime’s precarious strength, but also to the possibility of fighting back.

Cu Unjieng’s concerns are also formal: “The decorative is a way of thinking about objects as relational, so that a decorative effect is a kind of ecology resulting from the total relations established between objects.” These totemic forms speak to “a metaphorical similarity between arrangement – a key aspect of any decorative logic – and the mechanics of power exercised by the Philippine state over the form of the social.”

Anton Cu Unjieng is a Filipino ceramist who trained with pioneering contemporary ceramists Tessy and Jon Pettyjohn at their workshop in Laguna, Philippines. Cu Unjieng is currently a PhD candidate in Art History at the University of British Columbia and is particularly interested in exploring the resonances between the language he uses to think about pottery and the way he understands the political realities currently developing in the Philippines.

Reading Room:
September 25th & October 2nd, 2019, 6-8PM
at grunt gallery

The Reading Room is an ongoing series of events hosted by grunt gallery and led by grunt board member, Gizem Sözen. Each Reading Room is an opportunity to discuss themes in the current exhibition through readings selected by the artist and/or curator. In this second iteration of grunt’s Reading Room we will read and discuss Alex S. Vitale’s “The Police Are Not Here to Protect You” (2018) and Alfred W. McCoy’s “Capillaries of Empire” (2009) in relation to Anton Cu Unjieng’s exhibition, “A study in restraint, nanlaban.”

To register for the Reading Room, please email nellie@grunt.ca by September 23rd. You will receive the readings upon registration.
*Light snacks and a cash bar at each event*

The texts:
1. Vitale, Alex S. “The Police Are Not Here to Protect You.” In The End of Policing, 31-54. London: Verso, 2018.
2. McCoy, Alfred W. “Capillaries of Empire.” In Policing America’s Empire: The United States, The Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State, 15-56. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2009.

nindinawemaganidog (all of my relations)

Exhibition Title: nindinawemaganidog (all of my relations)

Artist: Rebecca Belmore

Opening: Book Launch and Reception: July 28, 2019, 7 PM

Exhibition Dates: July 2 – August 3, 2019

grunt gallery presents an exhibition of new photographs by Rebecca Belmore: nindinawemaganidog (all of my relations), curated by Glenn Alteen, and the book launch of Wordless – The Performance Art of Rebecca Belmore.

Book Launch and Reception: July 28, 2019, 7 PM

Over the past two years, grunt gallery has been at work on the legacy publication Wordless – The Performance Art of Rebecca Belmore, focusing on her remarkable performance career.

Wordless features full-colour photos and stills, including the new photo series nindinawemaganidog (all of my relations) and essays by Richard William Hill, Curtis Collins, Kathleen Ritter, Wanda Nanibush, Jessica Jacobson-Konefall, Glenn Alteen, Jen Budney, Dan Pon and Florene Belmore. Edited by Florene Belmore.

July 2 – August 3, 2019

grunt gallery commissioned a series of five new photographs based on five of Belmore’s previous performances. The new series, nindinawemaganidog (all of my relations), includes, witness, matriarch, mother, madonna and keeper.

Presented by grunt gallery and the Audain Art Museum. Published by Information Office. Wordless was funded through Canada Council for the Arts 150 Program, New Chapter and the Audain Art Museum. Wordless is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Art’s New Chapter initiative.



Image credit: Rebecca Belmore


Exhibition Title: dot.dot.dot.

Artist: Sejin Kim & Inyoung Yeo

Opening: May 9, 2019, 7 - 10PM

Exhibition Dates: May 10 - June 22nd, 2019

Curated by Vanessa Kwan with InYoung Yeo

dot.dot.dot. brings together Seoul-based artists Sejin Kim and InYoung Yeo for their first presentations in Canada. Working at the intersection of media and installation, Kim and Yeo’s practices explore the omnipresence of interactive technologies and their varying effects on human experience.

InYoung Yeo’s Happily Ever After considers the entanglements of bodies with technology and each other; here “lust” becomes subject of the artist’s research processes. Beginning with the idea of technology as a contemporary interlocutor for human desire, Yeo approaches sex, gender and sexuality as both highly mediated by and resistant to the “compressive” nature of digital intelligences. Lust becomes an impulse that drives technological interaction at the same time as it can never be fully satisfied by it. This loop constitutes what Yeo explores as a system of repetition and deferral – a new and ongoing set of frustrated co-dependencies. Her work represents these as repeated patterns and forms, inhabiting the gallery as an edition of wallpaper and a new sculptural work. Yeo states, “Depicting the intertwined physical relationship among people to people and people to technology, the project addresses the wider scope of the cyclical and repetitive pattern of our behavior in consuming the ‘disillusionment’ of satisfaction in its manipulation and distortion.“

Sejin Kim’s two-channel video work, Mosaic Transition refers to the contentious flow of polluted air across borders and nation-states across Asia. The flow of pollution – a product of prevailing wind currents and industrial production in China and elsewhere – is a defining factor in lived experience across the Korean Peninsula; millions rely on apps and real-time data visualization software to assess the liveability of local atmospheric conditions. Mosaic Transition employs these technological advances as both revelatory and potentially fictive: Kim’s work is inspired by recent political fallout when images of C02 emissions were mobilized in Congress in South Korea – only to be debunked as fictional visualizations. The video work is created to emulate algorithmic data calculations: using open source imagery as material, Kim creates a series of images that overwrites itself in a perpetual cycle of apparent fact and its subsequent replacement. The system and its machinations – alongside glitches, effects, screen captures and overlays – are textured and fast moving, as the real world effects of environmental crisis dovetail with the tools and technologies of data collection and manipulation.

Throughout, the artists explore deep influences on human behaviour and perception; far from decrying the advance of ‘the digital’ the artists represent an embedded yet critically engaged position. They contend, as we all must, with an embodied perspective in a technological environment that, in both promise and imperfection, is intertwined with our survival.

This exhibition is part of Particles: Seoul to Vancouver, a program of exchange between artists, curators and institutions.

Artist bios
InYoung Yeo is an independent artist, curator and director based in Seoul. Her work expands from artistic materialization of drawing, painting, installation works to curatorial projects with interdisciplinary approaches in topics of Gender, A.I. and Urbanization as her main area of research. She explores various forms of manifestation in visual patterns based on logical structures of the human ‘mind’ and coincidences in the multidimensional time and space. Yeo has put together and participated in various projects, exhibitions, residencies, talks and workshops in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, US among others. Some of her major projects and exhibitions include Intersections of Common Space and Time a public art intervention project in Seoul, supported by Seoul Art Foundation, Goethe-Institut Seoul; Gender Hierarchy exhibition and related programs at Grey Projects, LaSalle College of the Arts in Singapore, in partnership with Geothe-Institut Singapore ; A.I.MAGINE, an art and technology collaboration project with Seoul City, Seoul National University, Seoul Digital Foundation, Seoul Data Science Lab Project at Art Center Nabi, Space One, Goethe-Institut Seoul; a three-way dialogue as a part of the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017; East Asia Goethe-Institut A.I. research project A Better Version of 人. Her work has been included in group exhibitions A Free Breakfast, Multitude, Bare; and solo exhibitions a three-way dialogue, Space and Visual Interview.

Sejin Kim received her MFA in Fine Art from Slade School of Fine Art in London and MA in Film/TV from Sogang University in Seoul. She works with a variety of media apparatuses, including documentary realism and cinematic language to explore relationships between individuals and contemporary cultural systems. Her work has been shown internationally including selected solo exhibitions: The Chronology of Chance, Media Theater, Seoul; Prizma Residency #1, Prizma Space, Istanbul, Turkey; The Proximity of Longing, Cultural Station 284, Seoul. Selected group exhibitions include The Arrival of New Women, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; Galaxias Maculates, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Valdivia, Chile; Future is Now!, La Friche Belle de Mai, Marseille, France; The Shade of Prosperity, INIVA, London; Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011, ICA Gallery, London & S1 Art Space, Sheffield, UK; Life Stage, Art Centre Nabi, Seoul; The 4th Gwangju Biennale: PAUSE. She is the recipient of the Songeun Art Prize, Bloomberg New Contemporaries), and The 4th DAUM Prize, and she has participated in artist residencies at HIAP-Helsinki international Artist Program, SeMA Nanji Art Studio, Seoul, ISCP-International Studio & Curatorial Program, New York, Seoul Art Space_Geumcheon, Seoul, Goyang National Art Studio, and Taipei Artist Village, Taiwan.

Image credit: Sejin Kim, Mosaic Transition, 2-channel video (work in progress)

An Exploration of Resilience and Resistance

Exhibition Title: An Exploration of Resilience and Resistance

Artist: Kali Spitzer

Opening: March 14, 7 PM

Exhibition Dates: March 15 - April 27, 2019

grunt gallery presents new works by Kali Spitzer, An Exploration of Resilience and Resistance,  In conjunction with Capture Photography Festival, an essay by photographer Henri Robideau will be published on Spitzer’s work.

March 15 – April 27, 2019
Curated by Glenn Alteen
Opening Reception: March 14, 7 – 9 PM, grunt gallery
Artist Talk: April 18, 12:15 PM – 1: 00 PM, Native Education College, #285 East 5th Avenue, Vancouver, BC

An Exploration of Resilience and Resistance is about identity, culture, strength, vulnerability, and love; these images are about resilience and resistance. In this series, artist Kali Spitzer is photographing her community of mostly Indigenous and mixed heritage people, while challenging pre-conceived notions of race, gender, and sexuality to touch on how we can become more empathic, empowered people despite the hardships that we have endured.

Spitzer uses tintype photographs to capture her subjects. Tintype or ferrotype photography was a product of the late 1800s and most popular during the US Civil War. The medium persisted into the 20th century at fairs and carnivals as tourist photography. In the 21st century, it has been revived as novelty or art photography. The tintype was the first real populist form of photography, making photographs available to working class people reaching out through popular events and gatherings.

It’s hard to look at tintypes now and not be thrust back into the colonial era so that Spitzer’s photographs look both modern and historic. Many of them look like they could have been shot at a rodeo or a powwow, retaining that populist leaning that made the medium well known at their inception. Spitzer is subversive and strategic.

“Every photograph, every person, has a story to tell, and I am telling it through their portrait. When I photograph a person, I aim to create the most honest image of them. I believe that each image I take is a collaboration between the person I am photographing and myself. I wouldn’t be able to create the images I do without trust; trust an essential element of my work. There is an urgency to my work. I am part of a generation that is hugely affected by Residential Schools and Settler Colonialism. We are in a race against time as we are losing many of our elders, along with our stories, language, and culture. It is a struggle for our generation and for those to come. We need to spend time listening to our elders and learning from them. We struggle with holding onto our identities and re-discovering ourselves in this era of Settler Colonialism.”

Kali Spitzer is Kaska Dena from Daylu (Lower Post, British Columbia) on her father’s side and Jewish from Transylvania, Romania on her mother’s side. She is from the Yukon and grew up on the West Coast of British Columbia in Canada on unceded Coast Salish Territory. She is a transdisciplinary artist who mainly works with film — 35mm, 120 and wet plate collodion process using an 8×10 camera. Her work includes portraits, figure studies, and photographs of her people, ceremonies, and culture. Her work has been exhibited and recognized internationally. Spitzer recently received a Reveal Indigenous Art Award from the Hnatyshyn Foundation and was featured in the National Geographic and Photo Life in 2018.

This exhibition is part of the 2019 Capture Photography Festival Featured Exhibition Program.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue featuring an essay by Ginger Dunnill. View/download here

March 5, 1819

Exhibition Title: March 5, 1819

Artist: Rebecca Belmore

Opening: March 5, 2019, 7-10PM

Exhibition Dates: March 5, 2019 (one day only)

Opening Reception: March 5, 2019, 7PM

Over the past two years, grunt gallery has been at work on the project Wordless – The Performance Art of Rebecca Belmore focused on her remarkable performance career. This legacy project begins with an all-day screening of, March 5, 1819, and the launch of her new website, rebeccabelmore.com

In 2008 Rebecca Belmore produced the video installation March 5, 1819 recreating the abduction of the Beothuk woman Demasaduit and the murder of her husband Nonosabasut by colonialist settlers in Newfoundland. This video installation is not a historical reenactment, rather the actors are in modern dress and Belmore questions what has changed over the past 200 years. March 5, 1819, was commissioned by The Rooms in St John’s and has also been exhibited in Ottawa and Toronto. Set at Red Indian Lake in central Newfoundland March 5, 1819 was filmed in Vancouver at Mount Seymour.

March 5, 2019, marks the 200th anniversary of these events. It was announced earlier this year that their skulls will be returned to the Canadian Museum of History from the University of Scotland.  As we grapple with reconciliation it is fitting to remember the history that brought us to this place.

grunt will celebrate the re-launch rebeccabelmore.com, a website documenting Rebecca Belmore’s career over the past 32 years. The new site features content that spans Belmore’s career in all media, taking the user deep into the heart of her practice.

From July 2 – August 3, 2019, grunt gallery will also present a photographic exhibition of five new performance photographs, and a book launch of Wordless – The Performance Art of Rebecca Belmore, in collaboration with the Audain Art Museum and Information Office.

Funded through a New Chapter grant, Canada Council for the Arts, and the Audain Art Museum, this project celebrates the important career of one of Canada’s most iconic artists.

Wordless – The Performance Art of Rebecca Belmore is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

Strident aesthetic. Towards a new liberation.

Exhibition Title: Strident aesthetic. Towards a new liberation.

Artist: Carlos Colín

Opening: January 10, 7 - 10 pm

Exhibition Dates: January 11 – March 2, 2019

(Image: Contras from La otra Escuela (Fan College Apparel), T-shirts, 2018, courtesy of the artist)

This new series of work by Mexican Canadian artist Carlos Colín merges symbols of Latin American conceptualist art, and Latin American colonialist history, past and present, and its diaspora. Working with archives, books, footage, and audio material related to Latin American history, the artist creates a work based on photographs, text and/or audio with parallels between, arts, politics, religion, and society.

Carlos Colín was born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1980 and grew up in Mexico City. His practice explores how art can create links between Latin American societies and its diasporas by looking at how artists use local knowledge, realities, and histories in social resistance as new expressions of social and cultural progress. Colín holds a Master’s of Fine Arts degree from the National School of Fine Art in Mexico City, and a second MFA from the University of British Columbia. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program at UBC where his research explores the manifestations of baroque as a colonial legacy in Latin America and its diasporas. Colín was awarded the 2016 Emerging Artist Mayor’s Arts Awards for the City of Vancouver in Visual Arts; the 2017 Artist Studio Award Program; and the Canada Council grant to the Research and Create component in 2018. His work has been shown at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; Gallery 1515, Vancouver; and La Boligoma Art Gallery, Mexico City.

grunt’s new Reading Room:

The Reading Room is an opportunity to discuss themes in Carlos Colín’s exhibition, Strident aesthetic. Towards a new liberation, through short theoretical, historical, or literary texts selected by Carlos Colín and Glenn Alteen. The Reading Room will take place over three Wednesday evenings: February 13, 20, and 27, 5:30PM to 7:30PM, at grunt gallery. The artist will be in attendance! Please email Nellie, nellie@grunt.ca, to register or for more information. Readings will be emailed to you in early January 2019.

Opening Reception January 10, 7 – 10 pm

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue featuring an essay by Dana Claxton. View/download here

2068: Touch Change

Exhibition Title: 2068: Touch Change

Artist: Syrus Marcus Ware

Opening: November 1, 7 - 10 pm

Exhibition Dates: November 2 - December 15, 2018

(Image: Activist Portrait Series: Portrait of Queen Tite Opaleke, Graphite on Paper, 6 ft x 12 ft, 2015, provided by artist)

2068: Touch Change

ARTIST: Syrus Marcus Ware

CURATED BY: Vanessa Kwan

EXHIBITION: November 2 – December 15, 2018

OPENING:  November 1, 7 – 10 pm

DISCUSSION EVENT: November 2, 2018 / 7pm / grunt gallery 116-350 E. 2nd Ave

Touch Change: A conversation between Syrus Marcus Ware and !Kona

2068: Touch Change is both an archive and a speculation. Beginning 50 years in the future, this new exhibition by Toronto-based artist Syrus Marcus Ware proposes an archive whose ‘holdings’ act as a meeting ground for artists and activists across time and space.

The exhibition has 3 main components: a series of large-scale graphite portraits drawn on paper and directly on the walls, a speculative text and a disseminated printed work that documents materials gathered and accessed in the artists’ research process. The portraits – in many ways the centrepiece of the exhibition – are created through a complex process of visiting and revisiting images and interviews with historic and present-day BIPOC (Black, Indigenous or People of Colour) activist communities. Ware’s investment in the archive is overlaid with a parallel interest in forms of speculative fiction (see his recent piece in C Magazine or his essay on Octavia E. Butler published by Canadian Art last year) and he speaks eloquently about how he envisions his research and installations as ways of creating a space where activists and artists of different generations are brought together:

I have been creating very large-scale portraits of activists/revolutionaries/community mobilizers as a way of celebrating activists’ culture, activists’ lives and as a way of understanding the many daily choices that we all have to get involved in big and little ways to make the world a place where we all get to have self-determination and where we all get to be free. These portraits are an act of reverence, a celebration of life and of choice and of action(s).

For my project with grunt, I explored the Trans Archives at the University of Victoria and historic archives on Salt Spring Island, digging for and finding black history in the pages and fields. In this exhibition, activists from the past present and future will meet for the first time… as I merge my archival research with interviews and portrait sittings that I did with black British Columbians while doing my residency in Victoria and Vancouver.

Ware’s work invokes the philosophy of Octavia E. Butler’s now-famous Earthseed movement from her (unfinished) Parables trilogy: “All that you touch/ you Change. All that you change/ Changes you” resonates throughout the artists work, as a reference to empathic human connection as the fuel for sustained and sustaining social justice movements. Ware, like Butler,  invites us to consider change as a constant, and hope as an ever-expanding network of relations.

A conversation with local artist and activist !Kona will take place on Friday, November 2nd at grunt gallery. This program is co-presented with Recollective: Vancouver Independent Archives Week.

Curated by Vanessa Kwan

The exhibition is accompanied by a broadsheet featuring text by Syrus Marcus Ware. View/download here

Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier Scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture. His work has been shown widely, including at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery,  Art Gallery of York University and The Gladstone Hotel. His performance works have been part of festivals across Canada, including at Cripping The Stage (Harbourfront Centre, 2016), Complex Social Change (University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, 2015) and Decolonizing and Decriminalizing Trans Genres (University of Winnipeg, 2015).  He is part of the PDA (Performance Disability Art) Collective and co-programmed Crip Your World: An Intergalactic Queer/POC Sick and Disabled Extravaganza as part of Mayworks 2014. He is also a part of the Black Triangle Arts Collective (BTAC), a visual arts collective dedicated to exploring disability, racial and economic justice. He is a facilitator/designer at The Banff Centre, and for 12 years was the Coordinator of the Art Gallery of Ontario Youth Program. Syrus is the inaugural Daniel’s Spectrum Artist-in-Residence (2016/17) and a core team member of Black Lives Matter-Toronto. Syrus is also part of Blackness Yes!/Blockorama. He is working on a PhD at York University in the Faculty of Environmental Studies.

For more information visit Syrus’ personal website.


!Kona is a Vancouver-based artist, writer and activist. Her creative and social justice-oriented work has spanned arts/ cultural, queer, feminist and Black communities for over 20 years.

About Recollective Vancouver Independent Archives Week

Vancouver Independent Archives Week is a free public programming series initiated in 2015 by grunt gallery, the Western Front, and VIVO Media Arts that highlights artist-run centre archives, artists working with archives, and the intersections between contemporary art practice and in/formal sites of community memory. Joined by our partners The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, 221A, Artspeak, and Rungh Magazine, we have re-imagined the series as Recollective: Artists, Communities, Independent Archives, a robust expansion that examines the tensions and possibilities of the archive in narratives of social movements, activist communities, and marginalized voices.

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