Saturday, August 4, 9:30pm, The Middle Dam, by the Saugeen River
by Amy Kazymerchyk
Third Beach is a popular Stanley Park vista for watching the sun set over English Bay, the nautical entry point into Vancouver. The Coast Salish may have watched colonial ships approach Xwáýxway from this shoreline. Today, the bay is trafficked by oil and container tankers and cruise ships. From Third Beach 2 (2011), Mark Lewis captures the sun-pierced sky above the bay hours before dusk. Lewis resists the trope of the sunset time-lapse. In fact, the moving image is almost a still photograph, save for the subtle movement in the lapping tide and the crossing clouds. Lewis frames a brooding, mercurial moment that is a frequent phenomenon in Vancouver. In his composition the sea and sky are exalted, dwarfing the tankers that linger at the horizon under the command of the sun.
Barry Doupé experiments with the phenomenology of light and colour through fiber-optic flower arrangements in Thalé (2009). Doupé’s animations are inspired by the Thale Cress plant, which is commonly used in biological mutation experiments. His rotating electronic floras, resembling neon lights, sex toys and fireworks, glow in the dark digital void.
Conversely, François Roux challenges our romantic affection for light in Switch Off (2011). During a lunar eclipse he disengages the lampposts in a public park that illuminate trees like museum objects. Cutting the light is Roux’s trenchant gesture against the gradual phasing of the moonlight. His monkey-wrenching symbolically resists naturalization by erasing the chiaroscuro of the foliage.
The aura of romanticism, phenomenology and psychedelia encompass these works. Through conceptual interventions into these aesthetics, Lewis, Schmidt, Doupé and Roux inaugurate new frames around perception, cosmology and panorama.
The Poodle Dog Ornamental Bar (2010) was a reconstruction of a late 19th century bar of the same name that was situated near the Vancouver port. True to the original, Julia Feyrer’s Poodle Dog was built out of foraged cedar bark, vine maple twigs, moss and fungus. Over a summer it hosted readings, performances and happenings. The Poodle Dog was less a film set then a site for spontaneous propositions of cultural production, exchange and valuation. Rather than narrativize its unfolding, Feyrer films off-stage tableaus of empty cider bottles, apple trees being watered and friends sleeping in hammocks. These punctums are collaged with Feyrer’s reflection in mirrors and glimpses of gatherings through knotholes in the bark façade.
In one tableau, the stick is tentatively passed between two people. In unison they concur, “I’m not quite sure that it won’t give me an answer. I’m not quite sure that it will give me an answer.” This uncertainty with the authority of the (art) object, its capacity to endure veneration, and the artist’s challenge to make meaning resonate in Jordy Hamilton’s Freedom Machine. The work emerges from a collection of family videos and photographs documenting the Welland County Motorcycle Club’s annual trap-shooting event held on his family’s property. Though taken by his father William and father’s friend Jim, Hamilton re-purposed the video and photographs into art objects. This practice of working with found materials situates the artist’s studio in the gallery. The work of art is not the production of images, but the task of framing them. Hamilton’s re-framing draws attention to the composition of the motorcycle against the landscape, its colour palette, the texture of video-8mm and the artifacts of its degradation. The attention of the attendees to the presence the camera, its frame and the engulfed rite elicits questions around who is producing art, and how we make meaning in our lives.
Carole Itter’s A Fish Film (2003) is shot on Burrard Inlet near Indian Arm. A fisherwoman in a jacket of iridescent scales and sequined tails stands at the shore watching silver fish-like forms ebb and flow in shallow waves. She casts a net over the fish and pulls in the catch. On a barren beach she packs them into metallic buckets, covers them with iridescent fabric, ties them with silver thread and carries them away. This work is part of a trilogy with Tarpaulin Pull (2010) and UpInLetDown (2011) that are informed by the 30 years Itter has watched life in Burrard Inlet. A Fish Film is a sophisticated and equivocal reflection on the ecological and economic changes in the inlet.
Both Yoon and Itter’s performances orient them as beacons on the landscape. Yoon’s body retains its buoyancy in the river, resisting the pull of its current to absolve her form and the story of her specter. As the fisherwoman, Itter enacts a prophetic eulogy for the Pacific Coast. She stands witness at the entrance to Burrard Inlet–an atavistic posture that recalls the lookout we keep–as the sun slips under the horizon, from Third Beach.
From Third Beach 2
(France, 2011, 5:45 min.)
The Poodle Dog
Walking Stick for Ron Tran
A Fish Film