Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Exhibition - Yale Center for British Art

Natural History Portfolio was acquired by the Yale Center for British Art in 2015. This summer it will be included in the institution's “A Decade of Gifts and Acquisitions” has been curated by Elisabeth Fairman, chief curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts; Matthew Hargraves, chief curator of Art Collections; Lars Kokkonen, assistant curator of paintings and sculpture; and Sarah Welcome, assistant curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts; under the direction of Scott Wilcox, deputy director for collections. The exhibition runs through Aug. 13.

Other exhibitions are thematic, focusing on childhood and education, war and conflict, and the natural world. The works here have been chosen primarily from recent additions to the Center’s collection of rare books and manuscripts. Among the objects on display are an early map sampler (1806) by a nine-year-old girl; a manuscript by a French naval officer who took part in the Battle of Trafalgar (1805); a Second World War silk escape map; a rare early sciagraph (X-ray) of a lizard from a series of images of British reptiles (1897); and a number of works by contemporary artists, including Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman, whose portfolio of cyanotype prints (Natural History, 2014) was inspired by the work of the nineteenth-century naturalist Anna Atkins.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Reminder of Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber

Kelly Link is the author, most recently, of Get in Trouble. This essay is adapted from her introduction to an edition of “The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories” published this month for the 75th anniversary of Angela Carter’s birth. She wonders, as do we,
Carter died in 1992. She would have turned 75 this year, and how I yearn for more of her. What would she make of the stories we tell now? What new thing would she make?...everything I needed to learn I found in “The Bloody Chamber”: the playfulness and generosity and friction — of ideas, in the admixture of high and low, the mythic and the realistic. Here are 10 overlapping stories about marriage and sexual awakening, decay and transformation, house cats and big cats, wolves and people who act like wolves. There are retellings of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Bluebeard.” There are counts and countesses, brides and husbands, mothers and fathers. There are only a handful of named characters, many just signifiers: Mr. Lyon and Beauty and Wolf-Alice.
“The girls and women in “The Bloody Chamber” remake the rules of their stories with their boldness. They know boldness is the point.”

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Geometry of Knowing Exhibition - in four parts

Simon Fraser University
Academic Quadrangle 3004
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6

Audain Gallery
SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
149 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC, V6B 1H4

Geometry of Knowing is a group exhibition that investigates approaches to the acquisition of knowledge in the full mind-body-spirit sense of intelligence. Organized in four parts and presented across two galleries located in a post-secondary pedagogical institution, the project investigates the way in which artists engage tactics of fieldwork, embodiment and materiality in a manner that reveals or instigates processes of knowing. In this moment of increasing standardization and specialization regarding how people learn, art is a space for innovative thinking and experimentation outside given frameworks. 

Many works in the exhibition engage hybrid forms of fieldwork, borrowing methodologies and tools from anthropology, hunting, marine navigation, chemistry, herbology and horticulture. For example, Kika Thorne's new sculptural work, The Question of a Hunch, extends her ongoing interests in geometry, the visible spectrum and magnetism as a field upon which to project questions regarding chemical composition and its political ramifications. 

Knowing through embodiment calls into play the geometry of sense perception, communication and collaboration between artists and physical enactments. For example, Carole Itter's 1979 photographic series, "Euclid," documents musician Al Neil tracing Euclidean geometric theorems in the sand in North Vancouver. These images were projected as part of a collaborative live performance with Neil on piano, used on Neil's Boot & Fog album cover, as well as existing as photographic works in their own right. 

Manipulating materials, forms and images is a fundamental aspect of artistic production and transfigures how we experience, interpret and know the world. Camille Henrot's 2011 video, The Strife of Love in a Dream, for example, composes a visual atlas of strategies to conquer anxiety and fear through mythology, medicine, religion, art, ritual and tourism.

At SFU Galleries, we understand the university as a site of knowledge production, dissemination and acquisition. Its architecture is spatial and social, formalizing communal inquiry, contemplation, critique and invention. Situated in this architecture, the exhibition imagines the open geometry of the gallery as a context to re-examine how the visual and material languages of contemporary art generate experiential, emotional, physical, environmental and intuitive intelligence. Geometry of Knowing explores emerging and reclaimed forms of knowledge as tools to frame how artists consider ways of witnessing, being with, querying and generating.

The exhibition includes work by over 30 Canadian and international artists across the first three parts, including works from the SFU Art Collection. The fourth component is constituted as an SFU School for Contemporary Arts visual arts course in which students respond to the exhibition's theme through archival research.

Curated by Amy Kazymerchyk and Melanie O'Brian. Supported by a Project Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Field Notes Book inspired by The Nature of Nature Workshop

Inspired by the words of participants at our The Nature of Nature Workshop, November 2014, we have completed an artist's book addressing regeneration through seed, root and sprout imagery created by camera-less chemical processes. 
Field Notes - three panel artists' book - completed 2015

Click here to view the images and manuscript in the codex iteration.

In developing the series Natural History, our photographic
research led us through botanical taxonomy, intuition,
chemistry, mythology, history, and personal narratives. This
process of aggregating information inspired an examination
of the nature of collecting knowledge. How do the processes
and practices of knowing occur and change over time? What
is lost, and what is reclaimed? How does wisdom evolve? Is
knowledge a collective endeavor or a solitary path?

The Stella Collective exhibition at the Ukrainian Institute of
Modern Art, The Nature of a Collective, gave us an opportunity
to explore these questions. In November 2014, we invited
guests to a botanically themed workshop to observe plants,
consider the process of regeneration, and respond in quick,
collaborative writing exercises. With the assistance of writer,
Anja Notanja Seiger, participants elaborated upon the forces
found within the plant world and our connections to
these forces.

We framed the collective wisdom cultivated in these
exercises with photographic images made in response
to the workshop writing. These volumes are an exercise in
regeneration – sowing seeds and watching how they grow –
connecting the many paths of how we come to know.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Natural History Portfolio - Finished!

With the help of Chicago bookmakers,  Julie Nagy and Trish Hammer, we have finished our first of four portfolios of Natural History embracing the herbarium metaphor


Botany and the Feminization of Photography - Katherina Steidl

Katharine Steidl’s article discussing early photography as botanical illustration addresess the technical accuracy of “contact printing” and it’s increasing popularity during the seaweed and fern-crazed 1830’s. 

During the Victorian Era, many women involved themselves in the study of natural history and embraced all aspects of botanical science, including documentation of specimens — what Steidl describes as the feminization of  photography. This afforded women a specific role in the scientific community.  The practice of contact-printed photographs used as scientific illustration fell out of favor when objects could be photographed with more dimensionality using a camera with lens.  By 1839, cameraless photography began to be viewed, like scrapbooking, as a women's hobby -- a technique for passing time, capturing trivial subject matter for amusement.

Discovered: Botanical Ideas at Yale Center for British Art

“Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower” highlighted the scientific pursuits of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that resulted in the collecting and cataloging of the natural world, and that informed the aesthetically oriented activities of the self-taught naturalists of the Victorian era, particularly those of women who collected and drew specimens of butterflies, ferns, grasses, feathers, seaweed, and shells, and assembled them into albums and commonplace books.