Burrard Arts Foundation presents Around Us, an exhibition co-produced with Project Society.
Olga Abeleva & Shizen Jambor
Dennis Ha & Sylvain Sailly
Featuring new and recent works by nine artists, Around Us explores circuitous representations of self, moving beyond conventional self-portraiture in favour of abstracted, adjacent, or satirical portrayals. The exhibition encompasses multiple material approaches united through the medium of photography or through photographic processes. Informed by narratives of daily experience, intimate interactions, and relationships that accumulate and evolve over time, the artists trace overlapping encounters between places and people—the signs, symbols, and private languages that develop through periods of coexistence. Notions of self expand to involve not only the exhibiting artists, but their communities and the locations they frequent, including the gallery itself and surrounding neighbourhood. The works reference collaboration as a methodology, nurtured by a long-term commitment to knowing ourselves, one another and all that is around us.
Formerly known as the Canadian Photographic Portfolio Society, Project Society is a non-profit arts organization that supports contemporary artists at pivotal stages in their careers. Over the last thirty years, the society has focused on the medium of photography, producing a range of portfolio editions with artists. Coinciding with their name change in 2019, the society broadened the scope of their focus to include an expanded range of material forms and presentations. Over the duration of Around Us, a selection of CPPS portfolios will be viewable at BAF by appointment.
Image: Jeff Downer, Mask, 2021, inkjet print.
OLGA ABELEVA is a Russian-born visual artist, writer and costume designer based in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal). Her practice alternates between painting, performance and costume-making. She draws from folkloric narratives, Eastern European superstition, symbolism, coincidence, magic, and soap operas to build immersive worlds with recurring characters. Abeleva’s approach to art is narrative, driven by storytelling, surrealism of the dream world, humour and childrens aesthetics. She values collaboration and community, and has worked on projects with Shizen Jambor since they met in 2014. She studied at Universität Der Kunst in Berlin. She holds a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver and a Diploma in Mode et Confection sur Mesure from École des Mètiers de Faubourgs in Montreal. Recent exhibitions include Garage at Celine Bureau (Montreal), Waiting for Splenda at Liquidation World (Vancouver), and Gas Station at Marmo Gallery (Olympia).
SHIZEN JAMBOR is an artist of Chinese-Thai and European settler heritage who works and lives on the unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. Her work incorporates, video, sculpture, and installation to investigate and satirize mythologies around the production of art and construction of identity. Jambor utilizes theatrics, comedy, and visual metaphor to explore concerns around performativity and the codependency of language and ideology. She has an ongoing collaborative relationship with Olga Abeleva. Jambor graduated from ECUAD with a BFA in Visual Arts in 2017. Recent exhibitions include High Performance Object at Charles Clark Gallery and Choreography for Carrot at Ground Floor.
REBECCA BAIR is an interdisciplinary artist based in Vancouver—the traditional and ancestral territories of the Coast Salish peoples. Her research aims to explore the possibilities of specific representation and of identity through abstraction and non-figuration. Bair uses multimedia approaches to illustrate her exploration of identity and intersectionality, through the lens of her own experience as a Black Woman on Turtle Island. Her artistic, professional and educational goals revolve around common themes of celebrating Black plurality, as well as enabling interpersonal and intercultural care, and her work acts as a vehicle through which the complexities of history and identity can be uncovered, redefined and expressed. Bair is currently a BAF artist-in-residence, with a solo exhibition scheduled for late August, 2022.
JEFF DOWNER’s work aims to explore potency in the ordinary, creating images that portray the surreal in everyday life. Humour, melancholy and discrepancies: the subjects of the photographs are observations on our lives lived ordinarily. He has participated in several residencies, most recently at the Tenjinyama Art Studio in Sapporo, Japan, the Or Gallery in Vancouver and the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. His work with lens-based images extends wall-bound exhibitions and into printed matter and artist publications. His most recent artist book, published by Edna Press, London, Ontario, is a distant collaboration with a writer currently living in Spain. Both authors looked towards Joseph Conrad’s “Under Western Eyes” as a common ground to base their work, both text and image.
DENNIS HA and SYLVAIN SAILLY have been working collaboratively since 2017. Their photographic practice draws from a shared interest in commercial graphic imagery and improvisation.
DENNIS HA is an artist born in Hong Kong, SAR. He works in photography and music, and on curatorial projects. In his work, he explores personal ethos in connection to intercultural relationships and examines the tensions between the functional and the absurd.
SYLVAIN SAILLY’s animations and sculptural installations often draw on the graphic iconography and research methods of industrial processes. His work references the contexts and histories of image-making technologies and the varying relationships between the screen and the material world.
JAKE KIMBLE is a multidisciplinary Chipewyan (Dëne Sųłıné) artist from Treaty 8 territory in the Northwest Territories whose practice mainly revolves around acts of self-care, self-repair, and gender-based ideological refusal. Kimble currently works on the stolen territory of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations and most recently attained a BFA in Photography from Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Using a funny bone as a tool, Kimble excavates themes of existentialism, narcissism, and the strange, offering an invitation to the audience to examine the absurdities that exist within the everyday so that they may exhale, unclench, and even chuckle in the spaces where laughter is often lost.
KATIE KOZAK is a queer artist of Métis and Ukrainian settler descent. She grew up in Denare Beach, Saskatchewan. Her family is from the Métis communities of St. François Xavier and Boggy Creek, Manitoba. Her visual art practice is centered on connectivity to land, relationship, ritual, and traces. She begins her process by spending contemplative time in nature, with other living beings. Being with the trees and water reminds her of her father. She has become aware that her values for making and being are deeply tied to him and processing his loss. She believes the body is a vessel of imprinted knowledge, even when unacknowledged. Her work was recently included in Vancouver Special: Disorientations and Echo at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and presented as part of Platforms: We Are Here, Live by the City of Vancouver Public Art Program.
GLORIA WONG is a visual artist based in so-called “Vancouver,” on the unceded territories of the the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. She is a curator and visual artist, working primarily in photography. Drawing from the colonial histories of Hong Kong, Macau & Vancouver, her practice explores the complexities and nuances of these diasporic identities and the ways they are shaped by different relationships—whether between people, their environments or objects. She holds a BFA in Photography from Emily Carr University of Arts & Design (2020).