grunt gallery was founded in 1984 on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver, Canada) and is one of the region’s most established artist run centres. The gallery offers exhibitions, special projects and public programming with a focus on practices and perspectives that have, since the beginning, questioned established values in contemporary art production.
grunt was formed in 1984 by a group of 8 artists as a venue for artists and their work. Since then the organization has worked within local, national and international artist communities to provide an inclusive and supportive environment for the development of innovative and provocative contemporary art. Very early on grunt began collaborating with other organizations to realize projects otherwise beyond a single organization’s capacity.
In the early 1990s grunt began working with Indigenous art communities to provide a venue for contemporary production. This relationship has done much to define the organization since that time. grunt has not only been a significant venue for Indigenous production in Canada and internationally, but has had continuous participation on the staff and board team throughout this history. We have also provided an ongoing opportunity for residencies for Indigenous curators, researchers, writers and artists. We have similarly been guided by ongoing relationships with BIPOC and queer/ LGBTQIA2S+ arts communities.
grunt has been invested in ideas of ‘decolonization’ and intersectionality long before these terms were widely in use. Our experience working with artists and communities of diverse perspectives is well-known across the country and we continue to build capacity within the organization to grow in the service of this core mandate of diversity and creative innovation. These priorities comprise the fabric of our organization – and we strive to remain self-reflexive and evolving in the expression of them. Currently the organization is engaged in a 5-year process evaluating the accessibility of our systems and programs from an anti-oppression framework. This involves all levels of the organization.
Our programming scope has grown significantly over the years from a facility that primarily supported exhibitions, publications and performance to one that produces a wider range of activities, including: multi-partner collaborative projects, online project sites and expansive digital resources, site-specific artist projects, artist residencies, public art projects, international artistic exchanges and a vital, growing archive. While our facility is modest – we operate from a 1400-square foot office and gallery space in East Vancouver – our reach is expansive.
Our recent and upcoming programming reveals a strong international component, with reciprocal opportunities for Canadian artists. We have in recent years considered how to improve the nature of exchange – beyond the presentation of isolated events or exhibitions abroad. As is more fitting to our mandate and way of working, we have been developing longer term relationships with colleagues internationally, and seek to provide reciprocity – that is, a culture of exchange that acknowledges the importance of opportunities created over time and via embedded networks, and those that disseminate resources both at home and abroad.