Canadian Art - - Reviews -


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

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