GRIFFIN ART PROJECTS, VANCOUVER
Institutional collections live in crates and drawers. Their artworks and objects are snug between rigid foam segments, under black felt cloths or bubble wrap, away from the light of day. They’re surveilled, humiditycontrolled, displayed behind glass or secured with steel brackets.
“Kitchen Midden,” culled from the private collections of nearly 100 Vancouver-area artists, presents objects and artworks liberated from the conservational constraints typical to archives. The exhibited items—from feathers to photographs, textiles to ceramics—are open to the room, on sculptural platforms, playfully draped over doorways and partitions, or constellated on the gallery walls. Artworks proper mix with minor tokens— a stack of yogurt lids, an assortment of rocks—together as equals under the umbrella of being things kept. As possessions, they have places to call home, and lives as door stops, ashtrays, ornaments or focal points in the dwellings and studios of individuals who await their return.
A paper guide distinguishes the impressive array of known contemporary and historical originals from items with unknown makers, and emphasizes the names of their collectors—endorsements that add weight to each entry. Curated by artists Anne Low and Gareth Moore, the exhibition, which is equally an installation, is the result of numerous visits to artists’ spaces, characterized by gracious exchanges of showing and telling. This social aspect extends to the objects themselves, gathered at a great conference for inanimate things. They’re making connections, comparing oral histories and remembering makers passed. Are some acquainted? Was The Circle of the Thieves (1827) by William Blake, from the collection of Liz Magor, around while she created Sperm Whale, Teeth (1973), from the collection of Al Mcwilliams? These kinds of crossover moments between collector and collected happen throughout, giving further evidence to the vital network of support among artists to which “Kitchen Midden” owes its intriguing premise. — LUCIEN DUREY
Installation view of “Kitchen Midden” at Griffin Art Projects, 2016 PHOTO SITE PHOTOGRAPHY