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Merle Addison

January 21st, 2020

Artist Merle Addison has been showing his own work and documenting the work of others since the early days of grunt. His sharp eye and gentle presence have witnessed some amazing moments of performance art in Vancouver over the last three decades and we can’t overstate the value of his contributions to the grunt archive. We have prepared an introduction to Addison’s practice as a research resource and tribute to his work. Thanks Merle! For research inquiries or more info about grunt’s archives please contact Dan Pon, Archives Manager, dan[at]

Merle Addison first came to grunt in 1985, soon after we started. He worked as a member of the volunteer collective that ran grunt at the time. He worked in administration and communication in the late 1980s. His greatest contribution was his documentation of our performance program from 1990 to 2010. From 1990 – 2005, using black and white photography, Addison would create amazing documentation in difficult settings in low light creating an amazing archive of Vancouver Performance over the period. During the LIVE Performance Biennials from 1999 – 2005 Addison documented over 150 performances.
— Glenn Alteen, grunt gallery Program Director 1984-2020

Merle Addison is a graduate of the Experimental Arts Department of the Ontario College of Art. He received his official artistic license there but has been scribbling and making things as long as he can remember. Back then he thought the best job to have would be a TV news announcer. They worked 15 minutes a day and got to keep the pencils and paper. He started working with grunt in 1988 and has been doing so ever since.

He is best known for his photographic documentation of performance art but his personal work utilizes any medium that you can use to make a scribble, from photo processes to soapstone on fine sandpaper to his favourite, a pencil on paper.

His performance art photos were taken in the kind of small spaces where the intimacy of the space allowed a close up of the artist’s piece. His drawings and abstract photo pieces are more of his own journey, that personal experience that defines us.

Merle Addison Artwork & Performance Documentation.

Image: Merle Addison, Quiddity, February 22, 2003.

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