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Daughter, Daughter, Daughter by Sora Park

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.

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Enticed and Entangled en algo Antiguo by Francisco Berlanga

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.

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Syncretic Birthrights by Odera Igbokwe

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.

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

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.

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An Insufficient Record: The Photo Ethics of Preserving Black Vancouver

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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Smokes, Sings Loud

Smokes, Sings Loud
By Lori Blondeau and Michelle Sound
February 4th—March 12th, 2022
Curated by Dan Pon, Whess Harman and Vanessa Kwan
Artist Talk: February 24th, 6pm PST, online

Smokes, Sings Loud celebrates the wit, wisdom, and warmth of NDN Aunties through the work of Lori Blondeau (Cree/Saulteaux/Métis) and Michelle Sound (Cree and Métis), two artists whose work draws from and feeds back into deep and embodied community connection. Featuring Blondeau’s 1999 performance work Bleached, and Sound’s Deadly Aunties series from 2021, the exhibition looks across time and relations to make connections between the fierce, close care among kin with meaning in the wider world: that this love, in all its toughness, humour and tenderness, is also resistance.

Chosen family and ‘art aunties’ to so many, Blondeau and Sound make work that celebrates the matriarchs in their lives, a continuum of which they themselves are part of. Together they have done much to create possibilities and guide their communities,  keeping their kin out of the bad trouble—and nudging them into the good kind.  As a resistant (reluctant?) archetype, Auntie shows you the way from an early age, they teach you how to be tough as leather and soft as rabbit fur. When you think you know everything there is to know they put you in your place with a side-eye or a one-liner, and then they generously teach you more. In this spirit, Smokes, Sings Loud presents new and archival works that speak across generations, with razor-sharp wit and style to match.

Pairing a contemporary sculptural textile practice with performance from the grunt archive, the exhibition considers meaning in memory: how a piece of fabric, a pattern, a song, or a smell might evoke a story or a feeling with no beginning or end but that is no less telling for it. Blondeau’s Bleached reminisces on matrilineage, internalized racism, and nitpicking get-togethers with touching sentimentality and astringent humour. Sound’s Deadly Aunties series is a material homage to auntie’s closet: buckles, fringe, and big cat prints on fierce fits for a night out or a run to the gas station for smokes. Sharing space, these works invite one into the sphere of the bold domestic, and offer a chance to reflect on and pay respect to those who looked out for you. Here, struggle transforms, shines bright.

Click here for a PDF of the exhibition catalog.

Click here for an audio description of the visuals in the exhibition.

Click here for the exhibition floorplan.

Michelle Sound is a Cree and Métis artist, educator and mother. She is a member of Wapsewsipi Swan River First Nation in Northern Alberta. Her mother is Cree from Kinuso, Alberta, Treaty 8 territory and her father’s family is Métis from the Buffalo Lake Métis settlement in central Alberta. She was born and raised on the unceded and ancestral home territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University, School for the Contemporary Arts, and a Master of Applied Arts from Emily Carr University Art + Design. Michelle is currently an Indigenous Advisor at Douglas College and has taught workshops as a guest artist at the Richmond Art Gallery and the Contemporary Art Gallery.

She has exhibited her artwork in Moving Throughlines (Seymour Art Gallery) and Winter Pandemic (SoLA Contemporary Los Angeles). Public art pieces include a utility box art wrap for the City of Vancouver and a painted mural exhibition in Ottawa (2018) nākateyimisowin/Taking Care of Oneself, Curated by Joi Arcand. Michelle was a 2021 Salt Spring National Art Award Finalist and has upcoming exhibitions at the Art Gallery of St. Albert, Neutral Ground ARC (Regina) and Daphne Art Centre (Montréal).

Lori Blondeau is Cree/Saulteaux/Métis from Saskatchewan, Canada. Since the 1990s, Blondeau’s artistic practice in the fields of performance, photography and installation, along with her curatorial work and activities as co-founder and Executive Director of the Indigenous art collective TRIBE, has proved decisive to the ever-increasing centrality of Indigenous art and knowledge production in Canada. With her performances, which include Are You My Mother? (2000), Sisters (2002) and States of Grace (2007), and photographic work, including COSMOSQUAW (1996), Lonely Surfer Squaw (1997) and Asinîy Iskwew (2016), Blondeau’s practice both as a solo artist and in collaboration with fellow visual artists demonstrates a clarity of focus which is remarkable for its precision, humour and strength. Her photographic and installation work has been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions. Her performance pieces have been showcased at Nuit Blanche (Saskatoon and Winnipeg), VIVO (Vancouver), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto) and the 2007 Venice Biennial. Blondeau has participated in panel discussions and given lectures at the AGO, the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon), the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (Santa Fe) and the 2020 Sydney Biennale. Since 2018, Blondeau is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Art at the University of Manitoba School of Art. Blondeau was a recipient of the 2021 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

Image: Michelle Sound, Deadly Aunties, 2021. Image by Dennis Ha.

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Black Gold

Tsēmā Igharas: Black Gold
Curated by Natasha Chaykowski

As more than 12,000 square kilometers of land—forests, grassy expanses, life—burned within the unceded territories now known as British Columbia, the east moving wind from the Pacific Ocean pushed the ensuing smoke across the Rockies, shrouding Alberta in darkness. As the smoke wafted eastward, millions of barrels of heavy crude were pumped westward: the movements of black gold.

Black Gold, a project by Tahltan artist Tsēmā Igharas, approaches mining practices and the indisputably thriving yet destructive extractive industries in the colonial states of British Columbia and Alberta, particularly within the context of Athabasca oil sands. This project takes for start the idea that mined substances are inherently connected to our bodies through a shared geological origin. The energy of a molecule is the energy of a person is the energy of a place is the energy of a moment.

In Summer 2018, Tsēmā investigated these tensions through site-specific research and a residency supported by Untitled Art Society, which allowed her to delve into how these issues are made manifest on Treaty 7 Territory and Treaty 8 Territory, in comparison to how mining industries exist culturally, historically, politically and economically in the unceded lands of the artist’s home territory, Tahltan First Nation in northwestern British Columbia.

Tsēmā Igharas is an interdisciplinary artist and a member of the Tahltan First Nation. She uses Potlatch methodology to create conceptual artwork and teachings influenced by her mentorship in Northwest Coast Formline Design at K’saan (2005/06), her studies in visual culture and time in the mountains. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Emily Carr University of Art and Design (2011) and graduated from the Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design program at OCADU showing her thesis work, “LAND|MINE” that connects materials to mine sites and bodies to the land. Tsēmā won the 2018 Emily Award for outstanding ECUAD alumni; is one of twenty-five 2020 Sobey Award winners; and has shown and performed across Canada and internationally in Mexico, USA, Sweden and Chile.
Natasha Chaykowski is a white settler writer and curator based on Treaty 7 Territory in Mohkinstsis (Calgary). Currently, she is Director of Untitled Art Society.

The exhibition floorplan can be found here as a PDF.

Accessibility Notes:
Video has ambient sound, no speaking (uncaptioned). Shimmering (poem) is written in English, using low contrast black letters on a black background. Work can be read online here.
grunt gallery is accessed from the sidewalk via a 106” long, 64” wide concrete ramp that rises 12”. The slope is 1 : 8.75. There are no rails on the ramp. The front entrance is a manually operated outward-swinging double door with a total width of 64”. Entry to the Media Lab behind the gallery space is via a 42” wide passage and entry to the neighbouring amenity space is through a manually operated outward swinging double door with a total width of 70”. No stairs, inclines, or elevators are necessary to access the public areas once inside the gallery.
grunt gallery has a single gender neutral washroom that is accessed via a 31” wide doorway with a sliding pocket door with a door handle that is 40” high. The toilet has a 10” clearance on the left side and a 21” clearance in front, with a support bar on the left side. The sink height is 34”. Please contact us at 604-875-9516 or email communications[at]grunt[dot]ca with any questions.

 

Image: Tsēmā Igharas, Black Gold, grunt gallery, 2021. Photo by Dennis Ha.

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pi’tawkewaq | our people up river

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.

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a sentimental dissidence

“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.

Accessibility:
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

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A study in restraint, nanlaban

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.

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