Eli Muro’s Quarantine Inspirations

Burrard Arts—May 6, 2020

“I’ve always been interested in how technologies affect people and society, so I find most of the media I consume is about speculative futures, or the social impacts of current technology. It would be easy to file many of my interests under the category of science fiction or fantasy, but I see a very large overlap with these entertainment-associated labels, and theories of technology and culture. Somewhere in between them is where my deeper interests are.” – Eli Muro

Today, we’re sharing two lists from 2020 resident artist Eli Muro; keep reading for books, films, digital media and more to dive into as we all spend more time at home.

First is a list of creative coding tools they’ve gotten to know through their practice as a digitally-engaged media artist. Next up are some books, videos and other media they’re enjoying right now.

Sandeep Johal’s Quarantine Inspirations

Burrard Arts—April 21, 2020

“Isolation has given me the gift of time, which means revisiting books collecting dust on my shelves. I love books by Indian authors because they are able to write about the most unjust, heart-wrenching things in the most beautiful ways. Many of the people on my list – artists, writers, activists – are pioneers. I’ve always been inspired by the fearlessness of out-of-the-box thinkers and the legacies they leave behind. It inspires me to be more fearless in my own art practice and work towards creating a legacy my son can be proud of.” – Sandeep Johal

Keep reading for a list of things that Sandeep is reading, watching, and listening to to stay inspired as we all spend more time at home.

Insider Series: Angus Ferguson

Burrard Arts—November 21, 2019

Vancouver artist Angus Ferguson is preparing for the launch of his latest show at BAF Gallery (108 E Broadway), Where Have All The Good Times Gone. A graduate of the Langara Fine Arts and Emily Carr, Angus’s work varies from illustration to oil painting to video. Angus grew up in a creative household, with a father who was a filmmaker with NFB in the 1960s. He was always encouraged to pursue his creative ideas, which at the time were mostly drawing. Influenced by comic books and great illustrators, Angus embraced this drawing style from his own interests but also as a form of rebellion. In his experience at art school, illustration was maligned as not being ‘high art’, so Angus decided to embrace this taboo drawing style.

Angus’s work in this particular exhibition was created while taking a break from other projects; letting his mind relax and paint freely. This gives them an instinctually playful, surreal, and unfinished quality. The title, Where Have All The Good Times Gone, is equally playful. A famous song by the Kinks and covered by Van Halen, it is a lament for youth, for simpler times. This is what Angus’s show is about: taking a break from his more formal oil paintings, to enjoy playful illustration again as he did in his youth.

Angus finds inspiration in movies, some of his favourites being the classic films, North by Northwest, The Thing, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. He also finds inspiration in watching the creativity of children. He finds that a person has the most creativity as a child, while they can still make their own rules, before they start looking for approval and acceptance from others. The attempt to recapture this child-like liberty and abandon is evident in every piece of Angus’s latest series. Perhaps this tactic, of drawing without caring what you are creating or why, is a direct path to true creativity. 

Don’t miss Angus Ferguson’s show, Where Have All The Good Times Gone, opening on May 19th, artist talk at 6:15pm.

Text by Alexandra Best and Angus Ferguson

Insider Series: Elizabeth Zvonar

Burrard Arts—

The visual landscape we inhabit is one comprised of images. In this age, pictures are omnipresent and infinitely reproducible, constantly seeking our attention in the form of advertising, popular entertainment, and fine art. It is from this cacophonous dialogue that the artworks of Elizabeth Zvonar, the Burrard Arts Foundation’s newest resident artist, emerge.

Zvonar works mainly in collage and sculpture, often combining the two mediums to add a third dimension to her works. Her collages are composed in an analog manner, with source imagery cut and integrated together by hand, then scanned and printed to create a homogenous surface that retains the appearance of being layered. She examines metaphysics and metaphor through a critical, feminist lens, using images pulled from sources such as luxury marketing and art history itself to rearrange and call into question the visual environment we navigate.

For example, her 2009 series History of Art was comprised of porcelain sculptures and collages based on the iconic art history textbook by H.W. Jansen of the same name. The sculptures were staged as recreations of famous artworks such asRaft of the Medusa, but with cast index fingers standing in for all the figures. The series was included in the 2016 show at Daniel Faria Gallery, Histories of Art.

Her work also made her a perfect complement to MashUp, the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exploration of how art forms made by combining existing material, such as remixing and collage, became so ubiquitous in modern modes of expression. The Experience, her installation at the VAG Offsite, ran concurrently with the show. The collage featured an image of a pair of sunglasses from a 1970s fashion magazine superimposed on a Martian landscape to create a scene of retrofuturistic glamour. The piece’s otherworldly, sun-bleached aesthetic brought warmth to a busy Vancouver intersection during the dreariest months of the year.

Zvonar’s mandate for her upcoming residency has grown out of a previous one she undertook in Brooklyn in the spring of 2016. During that residency, Zvonar used a reading of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex as a way to frame her experience. The text, which was foundational to our current-day understanding of the discrepancies between how we are socialized according to gender, will form an ideological backdrop to the sculpture and collage that Zvonar will produce during her time at BAF. As a jumping-off point, Zvonar will be working from an altered image that encapsulates these ideas – the cover of a 1970 issue of the Saturday Review. The original image shows a woman’s hand, complete with wedding ring, flashing the peace sign; Zvonar has edited it to remove the ring to symbolize female independence and autonomy.

Recently, Zvonar was the only Canadian to be shortlisted for the 2016 Aimia AGO Photography Prize, and was the 2012-2015 City of Vancouver Artist in Residence. In Vancouver, she has exhibited at Western Front, the Contemporary Art Gallery, and Artspeak, among others.

Her upcoming show at the Burrard Arts Foundation will showcase the body of work created during her residency. It will run from April 6 to May 13, 2017. Find out more about Zvonar’s work at http://www.elizabethzvonar.com/.

In Conversation: Chris Eugene Mills

Burrard Arts—July 24, 2019

Chris Eugene Mills’ display in the Garage, ‘a finely-tuned interference engine thwarted by a painting of an ouroboros (in thirty-six parts)’ presents a coded performance of data, that consumes and regenerates itself, as a beautiful array of digital ‘paintings’.

We sat down with the artist to discuss his experience of working in a site-specific space, and learn more about the becomings of this particular instillation.

Façade Festival Insider Series: Scott Billings

Burrard Arts—July 19, 2019

Scott Billings’ artistic practice is marked by a material ingenuity. An engineer and industrial designer as well as a visual artist, it’s clear that for Billings, these concerns exist symbiotically. Creating sculptures and video installations that centre around issues of animality, mobility and spectatorship, Billings often makes use of industrial techniques – in the past he’s employed rare earth magnets, laser pointers, IMAX film, and custom circuitry. For his Façade 2017 project, Billings will use 3D scanning and printing to create a scale model of the Vancouver Art Gallery, then record it being physically damaged and manipulated. Projecting this back onto the enormous structure will create an illusory material experiment on a monumental scale.

Façade Festival Insider Series: Annie Briard

Burrard Arts—June 29, 2019

Annie Briard’s work explores the fragility of the real. Although the world we experience may give the illusion of being fixed, objective, impartial, it’s more fallible than that, an image painted impressionistically by the senses. It’s in this ambiguity that Briard finds inspiration – vision, perception, and where they diverge, in the form of hallucination or illusion. She works in video, photography, and installation to create works that explore how we construct our own reality, all with the hazy aura of a fading memory. 

Façade Festival Insider Series: Paul Wong

Burrard Arts—

With a career spanning four decades, Paul Wong has been an instrumental proponent to contemporary art in Canada. Often with an element of narrative, much of his work is site-specific or video-based. An award-winning artist and curator, Wong has led public arts policy, organized festivals and public interventions, and been a founding member of groups including VIVO Media Arts and the Mainstreeters collective. His works have been collected internationally, by institutions including the National Gallery of Canada and Whitney Museum of American Art. He is the recipient of major awards including the 2015 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Art and the 2016 Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts. His Façade Festival 2017 project will shine a light on a piece of recent Vancouver history many would prefer to forget: the 2011 Stanley Cup Riots. 

From Five Octave Range, a free public artwork designed by Paul Wong for the 2017 Vancouver Opera Festival.

In Conversation: Emily Neufeld

Burrard Arts—

Wandering though Emily Neufeld’s ‘Before Demolition’ conjures up the specific, almost uncomfortable feeling of finding oneself alone in a home that is not yours. Neufeld gained permission to explore houses set to be demolished, then created photographs, sculptures, and site-specific interventions using these intimate experiences as raw material. She displayed the photographs at life-size on the gallery walls, alongside interventions reminiscent of the ones she conducted in these homes, and vaguely humanlike structures created from materials gleaned from these sites. The final effect is an eerie, illusory immersive environment that explores how our bodies interact with space, and speaks to the loaded topic of the current Vancouver housing market. 

For this iteration of In Conversation, BAF spoke to Neufeld about this body of work and how it fits into her greater artistic practice.

In Conversation: Kim Kennedy Austin

Burrard Arts—

In ‘You, Only Better’, Kim Kennedy Austin examines vintage magazine illustrations and their message of self-improvement during the capitalist boom of the post WWII-era. Pulled from 1960s copies of Western Homes and Living magazine and a 1946 workout manual titled ‘Figure Fitness in Fifteen Days: Your Rx for Slenderness’, the characters in the clippings Austin has chosen cheerily model an affluent, heteronormative, patriarchal lifestyle; one that’s presented to the reader as not only desirable, but attainable in just a few simple steps. In this interview, we asked Austin about the inspiration, thematic ideas, and artistic processes behind this show. 

Life was politics in the last decade, life will be art in the next decade

Burrard Arts—June 27, 2019

“I would like to take this opportunity to endorse the candidacy of Mr. Peanut for mayor of Vancouver. Mr. Peanut is running on the art platform, and art is the creation of illusion. Since the inexorable logic of reality has created nothing but insoluble problems, it is now time for illusion to take over. And there can only be one illogical candidate: Mr. Peanut.”

-William S. Burroughs

On Saturday, November 15th (fittingly, civic election day in Vancouver) BAF in partnership with Wil Aballe Art Projects presented a one-day pop-up exhibition of work by Vancouver artist Vincent Trasov, commemorating his 1974 mayoral campaign as Mr. Peanut. As part of the exhibition, BAF also created a very limited run of prints featuring the original campaign posters used for the election, remastered and printed in an edition of ten (see below.)

Forty years ago, Trasov ran for mayor of Vancouver dressed as his adopted top-hatted and cane-carrying alter-ego, Mr Peanut. His was an art-centric platform: P for Performance, E for Elegance, A for Art, N for Nonsense, U for Uniqueness, and T for Talent. He made no speeches or lofty claims to political reform but rather tap-danced his way into the hearts of voters in an absurd and clever campaign. He didn’t win the election (ultimately receiving approximately 4% of the vote; incumbent Art Phillips took office) but his twenty-day performance attracted a surplus of media and the consideration of City Hall, while bringing Vancouver art and politics to national and international attention. The performance was notably featured in Esquire and Interview magazine.

The show, celebrating the campaign’s 40 year anniversary and hosted in a currently-in-transition condo development by the Cambie Street Bridge, featured footage from the 1974 civic election, video of Trasov as Mr Peanut in New York and a collection of Trasov’s drawings of the character made over several years. The drawings (small, pen and ink compositions) illustrate the artist’s fantasies of Mr Peanut playing the doctor, painter, adventurer, traveller, posing provocatively in historical ruins et cetera. Trasov adopted his character in 1969 at a time when a generation of young artists were taking aliases to complement conceptual practices that emphasized performance, repetition, absurdity and chance. Trasov was purportedly attracted to the image of Mr. Peanut (the advertising logo and mascot of the American snack brand Planters) “because it was easy to draw.” He constructed a paper mache costume and embodied the shelled character about town as a means to explore persona, anthropomorphism, and mythology through performativity.

Trasov was a founding member of the Western Front in 1973 (along with seven other artists: Martin Bartlett, Mo van Nostrand, Kate Craig, Henry Greenhow, Glenn Lewis, Eric Metcalfe and Michael Morris) who opened the centre for the production and presentation of new art activity. They aimed to create a space for the exploration and creation of new art forms, and it quickly became a gathering place for poets, dancers, musicians and visual artists interested in exploration and interdisciplinary practices. As a focal point of experimental art practice through the 1970’s and 80’s, the Western Front played a major role in the development of electronic and networked art forms in a national and international context. In 1969, Trasov founded the Image Bank with Michael Morris, a system of postal correspondence between international artists for the exchange of information and ideas. “It was a forerunner to Facebook,” Morris said. “It was an early social network.” The intention of the Image Bank was to create a collaborative, process-based project in the hopes of engendering a shared creative consciousness. In 1991, Trasov and Morris founded the Morris/Trasov Archive, currently housed at Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery to research contemporary art and communication.

Trasov has had numerous international exhibitions and is represented in public and private collections in both Europe and North America. He presently resides and works in Berlin and Vancouver. Concurrently, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery and the Walter C. Koerner Library at the University of British Columbia has an exhibition of artifacts from the campaign at Koerner Library, 1958 Main Mall. It will run until January 4, 2015.

The exhibition was made possible in partnership with the Burrard Arts Foundation and with generous assistance by Port Capital Group.