Through Arts Assembly, Meichen Waxer, Brynn McNab, and Sam Basu produced a collaboratively curated publication, exhibition, and short film festival with Treignac Projet, an artistic research residency and gallery in the Limousin region of France.
This project was centred around the idea of the archipelago as a geographical term that categorizes a group of discrete islands as part of a networked system, and how this structure is reflected in collaborative artistic practice, interpersonal politics, and ways of being in the world.
The publication and exhibition featured work from Bronwyn McMillin, Sam Basu & Liz Murray, Rosen, and Kelwin Palmer and launched at Dynamo Arts Association on Friday, February 3, 2017.
You can read the full publication here
Works by: Ahbyah Baker, Angela Grossmann, Maya Gulin, Sonja Ratkay, and M.E. Sparks
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 24th, 6-9 pm
Franc Gallery presents a group show curated by Brynn McNab, with work by Ahbyah Baker, Angela Grossmann, Maya Gulin, Sonja Ratkay, and M.E. Sparks. These artists create form and figure through a method of iterative abstraction, modifying the purity of form that so refined modernism by treating the abstract with a productive rather than reductive approach. Responding to contemporary conditions of feedback and distortion, these forms of abstraction are found through systems predetermined by the borders of the medium. An emphasis on the figure or the body as opposed to a ground produces inchoate entities whose mechanics display the complexity of sentience. Embryonic, the forms created are not found through a process of distillation; they find their method of operation in between previous systems of order, and the insertion of the self here abrades the austerity of the medium around it.
These iterations suggest the curved parade of gestures when you stand between two mirrors; they write a new alphabet that acts out its mythology. Like the word repeated until it loses its meaning, they gain a new and vibrant power. They evidence what can simmer up from the medium when it is under pressure. Their beasts are what stir in the contiguous space between text and being, sculpture and painting, language and creature, figure and ground.
The artists begin with the voided space of the picture plane, but work from it with a swerve principle in mind, allowing a chanciness that has the potential to amass gravity. They are creating the conditions from which the new can emerge, and have the humility to take into account that in all probability, this experiment may take some repeating. Buried in this practice is a sardonic criticism: Baker, Grossmann, Gulin, Ratkay and Sparks have taken the exhaustive eradication that the dominant figures of the last century have expended so much effort to perfect, and each in their own way brew within it new life.
Co-writing criticism is a workshop that Brynn McNab and Alexa Mardon have been developing in multiple iterations. We have been exploring what art criticism looks like when the position of the ‘critic’ in opposition to the ‘artist’ is diffused. Time, space, and authorship are concepts that define the way that criticism is written. We wanted to ask what the most discursive form of critique of art can be, and what can be written about within an immediacy to the art work.
The workshop takes place on the site of the work of art. Participants must borrow, or bring their own laptop/smart phone/tablet with access to Google documents. The artist can be present, or not present, as they desire. If the work in question is a performance, then the preamble takes place before the performance begins, and the workshop would be restructured around the duration of the performance.
The preamble is an open discussion as to the structure of critique. We open the workshop up by defining as a group what criticism broadly should be. Some previously theorized ideas have been story, performance, branding, and translation. Often, qualities in the work define what form of criticism would be most useful. Within these, we as a group discuss to determine the methods used by writers to construct the writing as a whole, focusing on more concrete details like poetics, tense, research, and references.
For the workshop itself, each participant logs into the same Google document. The group is given 20 minutes to make observations of the work in the style determined by the preamble discussion. Any writer is able and encouraged to delete, edit, or add anything that they want to the group document. After the 20 minutes are up, we take time to collectively read through what has been written out loud with the group. Then, we discuss what needs to happen with the writing in order to make it into a coherent critique. Sometimes this means making it less coherent. Afterwards, the group is given 20 minutes to make some editorial changes, which may include clarifications, elaborations, or restructuring. These changes are then discussed again, and the group is given an additional 10 minutes to write a conclusion. There is no discussion when writing, and no writing during discussion. The group is given permission to use the finished document as they see fit, with each author having equal rights to its authorship.
So far, one of the benefits of the workshop have been the emergence of a less restrictive use of language. With words being altered and removed by any member of the group, the laying down of them in written form becomes less final, and encourages different levels of discourse. Often, conflicting viewpoints lead to surprising concepts.
A residency/library/mini festival/community invitation/dancing museum/book publication/lecture+ workshop series
236 East Pender Street,
more details on artists and schedule can be found here:
An Exact Vertigo, entering its second year, is an invitation to Vancouver’s contemporary dance and contemporary art communities to engage in discussion surrounding critical theory, text, choreography, and movement. The series will return to Unit/Pitt projects in 2016 as part of Unit/Pitt’s “2055” project, a programming framework for the year which imagines the possibilities and limitations of artist-run culture in the next 40 years. After the support for our alternative festival last year, we will be readdressing contemporary dance and performance in the context of its possible futures. Some questions the project will attempt to address are: What will we be gathering around in the next 40 years, and how do we manage this at its most inclusive? How might we address the politics of place in artist run centres as processes of gentrification continue to rapidly unfold? What are the potentialities of skilled practices in a post-disciplinary culture? How do we cease placing ourselves in distinctions of emerging/established, viewer/performer, artist/citizen, and begin truly co-producing the cultural communities that we want to participate in?
Tuesday – Saturday, 12-5pm, Alana Gerecke in residence
Wednesday, March 16, 7pm panel talk hosted with Alexa Mardon, Brynn McNab and Jacquelyn Ross
Friday, March 18, 1pm, reading hour
Saturday, March 19, 5pm, co-writing criticism workshop by Brynn McNab
Tuesday – Saturday, 12-5pm, Carolina Bergonzoni in residence
Wednesday, March 23, 7pm talk by Justine Chambers
Friday, March 25, 1pm, reading hour
Saturday, March 26, 5pm, workshop by Justine Chambers
Tuesday – Saturday, 12-5pm, Alex Mah in residence
Wednesday, March 30, 7pm talk by Lee Su Feh
Friday, April 1, 1pm, reading hour
Saturday, April 2, 5pm, workshop by Lee Su Feh
Tuesday – Saturday, 12-5pm, Evann Siebens in residence
Wednesday, April 6, 7pm talk by Hong Kong Exile
Friday, April 8, 1pm, reading hour
Saturday, April 9, 5pm, workshop by Hong Kong Exile
10pm Sask Social hosted by Deanna Peters
An exhibition and poster series by Monique Levesque
January 15 - February 27, 2016
Reception, Artist's Talk and Publication Launch February 13
“I am engulfed, I succumb…”
S’abimer/to be engulfed
Outburst of annihilation which affects the amorous subject in despair or fulfillment.
from Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse
Appropriating fantasies from teen nightmares and self-help books as a city-wide stage play, Monique Levesque unlocks her diary and her phone in the poster project Why Am I Afraid to Love? Divulging her obsessive journalling, intimate digital interactions, and one sentence romantic comedies to the geography of Vancouver, a series of graphic posters will lay bare her heart. Levesque plans to plaster these texts and txts around the city in which they were prompted, with the heart of the work resting in UNIT/PITT’s library. The writing participates in anxiety around surveillance, secrecy, vulnerability, romance, performance and gender in digital correspondence. The proliferation of the text is an experiment concerning how artists’ and writers’ correspondence and diaries might be published from their current digital medium. What power can be claimed in the annihilation of privacy?
Publication is available for purchase HERE.
The "Outside/Dehors" summer residency will take place in the cabin community of McGillvray Falls, on Anderson Lake, BC, where I spent many of my childhood summers. There are around 30 families that travel there on the weekends to escape their day to day work life, and have been doing so for years. A handful have decided to retire there. An unspoken tradition of the community is to gather together every Saturday night on the communal lawn by the water, with each house bringing a simple appetizer, and socialize. As many people travel there for solitude, this is often the only time everyone gets together as a community. There is catching up, locally political discussions, and stories exchanged. We call this time hors d'oeurves.
Hors D'Oeurve is a french phrase which literally translates to "outside, exempt, or apart from the main work". It is familiar as a culinary term, a course of the meal that is easy to prepare, and can be eaten by hand. The idea is that the cook can participate in the social act of eating as the meal is being prepared. The course is considered apart from, outside of, the main work of the dinner.
The emphasis of the residency is on the work that takes place outside of the practice-based art world. The week-long period is meant to focus on conversation, discussion, and unpressured inquiry into the prospect of the visual arts and critical studies. I ask that everyone leave behind the physical tools of their practice, and bring nothing but a query or line of questioning to the group. The area has no cellular service, little electrical power, and no internet connection, so the discussion will exist outside of the larger networks we usually rely on for lateral references. I would recommend bringing books or readings that you might like to share, as you will not be able to google anything. The general structure of the time away will have optional, mostly unorganized activities such as hikes and swims and boat trips, lots of food and wine, and a group of people that is interested in sharing their queries and giving feedback to others.
Each attendant will be responsible only for preparing an appetizer of some kind for the group, along with abstract material for speculation, rumination and critique .
The residency will tentatively take place from the 20-27 ofJuly, 2015.
Meals and transportation will be taken care of by me, but anyone wishing to contribute food or a car would be welcome to.
If you are interested in attending, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, with a line of inquiry you are personally interested in sharing with others, and a general idea of some broad question you think you need time and space and other people to work through. The deadline for proposals is June 15th.
Madison Killo and Patrick Campbell will transformed Unit/Pitt's gallery space into an immersive and systematic, non-site recontextualization of the Bloedel Conservatory. Cultivating vanishing habitats in a utopian realm, the conservatory acts as a hermetic container of preservation, understanding, and interiority.
‘Cultivating Equilibrium’ navigates the complex interrelations between art, architecture and nature. Exploring the balance between the three, the exhibition implements an organic architecture within the gallery. Presenting non-linear experiences of space, it engages with a superlative unworldliness, simulating an unearthly earth.
Madison Killo is an artist and curator living in Vancouver, Canada. She received her BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2014. In December 2014, she curated the exhibition ‘Beginning the Shape’ at the Or Gallery. Through sculptural installations, her work architects atmospheres through the lens of existential, metaphysical and ontological affects. Structured through a theoretical and meditative process, they focus on the presentation of space as platform for experience.
Patrick Campbell is an artist and curator based in Vancouver, Canada. He received his BFA from Emily Carr in 2010. His work highlights and acknowledges the presence of societal histories. Informed by his formal training in photography, he seeks to preserve the lasting ephemera of these architectures. His practice often uses traditional cinematic modes of production – situated in installations that enhance the construction of place. The content of his work mediates between the public and the private, structuring narratives around fragments of the every day.
a residency/library/mini festival/community invitation/dancing museum/book publication/lecture series/workshop series/utopia.
Hosted at Unit/Pitt Projects, from March 4th to April 4th, 2015.
An Exact Vertigo was an invitation to Vancouver’s contemporary dance and contemporary art communities to engage in discussion surrounding critical theory, text, and movement. The project consisted of multiple actions: A free speaker and workshop series open to the public and accessible to non-dancers, the creation of a library of open-source critical writing, and the use of the 650 square-foot Unit/Pitt exhibition space as an alternative venue for research, development, and rehearsal by independent choreographers for their current projects.
As a way of engaging with the project’s larger theme, we asked participants to have a conversation about their experience with the project’s curators Brynn McNab and Alexa Mardon. These interviews, framed by curatorial essays, will be published in book form.
By inviting dancemakers and dance-thinkers with varying approaches to participate in An Exact Vertigo, we aimed to broaden the city’s traditional audience for discussion around contemporary dance, and to offer space for current dancemakers to re-imagine their practices in a new context.
ISSUE Magazine is a resurrection of a publication that came out of the Helen Pitt Gallery and Unit 306 Society starting in September of 1983. It originally ran as a bimonthly magazine for 2 years, with 14 issues printed. The emphasis then was on local art events and politics, with an almost equal mix of joshing, irreverence, and sincerity. The revived ISSUE is attempting to rebalance those ratios.
Revived in January 2014 at Unit/Pitt Projects by Keith Higgins, Brynn McNab, Carla Stewart, Dana Howell, and Natalie Gitt, the first year of the magazine saw it gradually finding its footing. With low runs, and local distribution, it was pulled together by emerging artists, writers and designers with lots of hard work. In its first year, ISSUE Magazine travelled to the New York Art Book Fair, The London Art Book Fair, and the LA Art Book Fair, as well as having a large presence at the Vancouver Art Book Fair, as editor Brynn McNab spoke about its creation.
Featuring Vancouver-based artists and writers, ISSUE Magazine is filling a perceived void in the city’s art discourse. We are seeking to proliferate alternative ways of functioning in the political and social landscape of Vancouver’s art world, while providing a venue for critical discourse about current happenings. The editorial strategy encourages collaboration between writers, editors, designers and artists in the generation of each issue, with content focussing on the workings of Vancouver from the perspective of young, working, and underpaid artists. We seek to encourage discussion about the work happening in Vancouver, and a framework to position our community to those around the world.
January 16-February 28th, 2015 at Unit/Pitt Projects
The Facility for Consideration is an exhibition engaging in a many-voiced conversation concern the artist’s conception of space. Rather than using the public space as a medium itself, this curatorial project scales back to the two-dimensional, looking from a more aesthetic vantage on the ways in which our perception of the built environment can be arranged and navigated.
To what extent does the aesthetic project have utility? Through influence, you suppose, through translation, affect, and communication. Less thought of perhaps, is the constitution of a new understanding of space, of the structures surrounding both the artist and the viewer, and in its depiction a criticality, and a positing of the new. Space, although growing no bigger, has become exponentially more complex in the last few decades. The implicated range of minute or distant structures and detailed architectures to the awareness of the individual is now immense and grows proportionately to the availability of information and experience. The networks we familiarly navigate have created a Zeno’s Paradox – the vertigo of never being able to reach the other side of a road which we have always already been crossing; the array of measurable points between points multiplies as we regard more closely. These include our personal use of the digital, the infrastructural niceties of the global public, and our discourse on increasingly available past representations. The conception of these newly available spaces directly and absolutely effects the methods with which we move through them, influencing how we use them to our advantage, or how they corral us to theirs.
Artists’ work has always been concerned with the parcelling out of space, and its perspectival serration. The last century saw a radical transformation in the avant garde on the manner in which space is translated, depicted, or recreated. This process of spatial criticality, which has always been integral to artistic work, has more recently become more self reflexive, concerned with a critique of artist’s depictions of space, with a more engaged concern about how this effects the general public’s perception and use of this space socially, economically, and politically.
These critical spatial shifts host examples in all creative forums, from architecture, to coding, to painting, to literature, and they are becoming more central to both popular and aesthetic discourse. In protest to a supposed stagnancy in criticism, there are still new spaces to be reconstituted and conquered, and they are germinating incessantly. The artists participating in this exhibition, although they are working exclusively in two dimensions is generative primarily in the moving through and close consideration of space. The work –in medium being still, flat, and contained– is insistent upon it.
The selection of films feature work out of the late 60s and early 70s in France. The auteurs emerged from the Rive Gauche film movement, the Nouveau Roman in literature, and the collection of Zanzibar films respectively. Thematically, they are linked by various combinations of trauma, eroticism, and violence, with distinctly similar metafictional and elliptical methodologies in their narratives. Heavily influenced by art and literature, surrealist logic controls much of the cinematic landscapes. The characters often wander through the frames, lost to their own dreams, anxieties, and obsessions. Visually striking and stylishly detached, they contain just the right amount of politics for the summer heat; aesthetic and relational issues that can be discussed while supine, with a drink sweating in hand.