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Q & A with Tarah Hogue

Get to know our curatorial resident Tarah Hogue! Tarah started her position with grunt gallery in April and she’s already started to take on a number of different projects and plans that will unfold over the next year. Learn more about her, what Tarah has done in the past and what kinds of projects she’s working on at grunt in the near future.

How long have you lived in Vancouver? What brought you to the city?

I’ve lived in Vancouver since late 2008 – I moved to the city after graduating from Queen’s University because my two best friends were living here and attending Emily Carr. I applied to the Curatorial Studies program at UBC but ended up working for a year and opening the Gam Gallery before I got accepted.

You founded Gam Gallery in 2009. What was your vision for creating this space? How has it changed or shifted?

Photo from Gam Gallery’s instagram

I started the gallery with three of my close friends from back home in Alberta – two artists, a musician and myself. We had talked about the idea of starting a creative multi-purpose space for some time but the opportunity came when we happened upon the space in the ACME Studios building where we are still located (110 E. Hastings). It was available for rent and so we kind of just jumped into it. Initially we did anything and everything to pay the rent: we threw parties, hosted experimental theatre, put on artisan markets, curated exhibitions, had band nights, film screenings, model drawing, games nights – you name it. The idea was and always has been to create a social environment for emerging artists to make, share and (sometimes) sell their work, but our operations have definitely become more streamlined. We currently have about ten artists that work in the studio space (meaning we have fewer crazy parties) and we focus on our exhibitions and the boutique a lot more, which features local designers, jewelry, ceramics, art prints and more. We still do games nights and have music at the gallery from time to time, but focus more on programming that complements our exhibitions. There are just two of us that run the space now – myself and my partner, Julia Kreutz, so we have to be more selective and efficient with our time (we both have three jobs!).

What past exhibition that you curated are you most proud of?

Working on the Witnesses: Art and Canada’s Indian Residential Schools exhibition at the Belkin Art Gallery as a co-curator was an amazing experience. I had worked at the gallery while doing my MA and Scott Watson (the gallery’s Director) asked me to stay on for the project. The curatorial team, the artists, and the programming all had a profound impact on me, both professionally and personally.

Lisa Jackson, Savage (video), 2009. Production-still photo: Kris Krüg.

What drew you to grunt gallery?

My interest in performance art and the production of indigenous artists brought me to grunt as soon as I moved to Vancouver. The programming here is really important in presenting contemporary art that deals with social issues and there is also a level of community engagement that is really impressive; these are values that I want to build my curatorial practice around.

Who inspires you as a curator or artist?

The more I encounter the work of fellow indigenous artists and curators the more I am impressed and overwhelmed by the scope of talent and intellect that is out there – in other words, it’s a long list. Personally, I find Richard Hill’s curatorial work and writing to be really ground breaking. I had the pleasure of hearing David Garneau speak at the Witnesses symposium in September and think his work is crazy and amazing. My favourite artist has always been Rebecca Belmore, her strength and the silence in her work have been a great source of inspiration for me. People like Tania Willard, Dana Claxton, Charlotte Townsend-Gault, and Peter Morin… I could just go on!

What are some projects you’re planning on working on with grunt gallery?

I will be working on some of the planning around the gallery’s 30th anniversary activities, which I am very excited about. I will also be curating a show from Dazibao in Montreal called Épopée, which is a series of videos produced by Rodrigue Jean who was doing a documentary on male sex workers in Montreal. He later developed a program to allow the workers to produce their own videos and we will be screening these in conjunction with the Queer Arts Festival in July. I will also be doing my own research on the topic of indigenous feminism for a potential exhibition, for which the grunt’s archives will be a fruitful resource!

What exhibition have you seen in Vancouver that went above and beyond what you expected of it? Or what you thought it could be?

The largest exhibition that comes to mind is the Marian Penner Bancroft exhibition at the VAG in 2012. I was just floored by her work and the level of personal narrative that she uses. I can imagine that she would have faced criticism for this at some point in her career and it stands in contrast to the academic/intellectual tradition of art making in Vancouver that is dominated by a few key male artists. I think her work is really important for this reason, though it is powerful in its own right as well.

Outside of the art scene, where can people find you?

I sing and play percussion (tambourine, etc.) in a country-rock band, Those Boys Cassidy. We are just finishing up a three-song EP, which is our second release. I also plan to spend as many weekends as possible camping and fishing this summer. I just caught my first trout on the Easter long weekend and want to get back out there for more.

Anything else?

I am very fortunate to be working with grunt and I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting into it – and hope to meet you all in the coming months.

Tarah Hogue Bio:

Tarah Hogue is a writer and curator of Dutch/Métis ancestry. She holds a Bachelor of Art History from Queen’s University and a Master of Art History in Critical Curatorial Studies from the University of British Columbia. Hogue has curated a number of exhibitions in Vancouver, including No Windows at the Satellite Gallery in 2011 and her practicum exhibition, Facing the Animal, at the Or Gallery in 2012. She has recently co-curated two exhibitions about Indian Residential Schools in Canada: Witnesses: Art and Canada’s Indian Residential Schools at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, and NET-ETH: Going out of the Darkness with Malaspina Printmakers. In 2009 she co-founded The Gam Gallery, an exhibition space and artist studio located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

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