press release

In the winter of 2005-2006, the Antwerp Museum of Contemporary Art MuHKA will host a major survey show of contemporary art from Vancouver, BC – the first of its kind outside Canada, and the first of such ambitious scope in Europe.

In spite of – or, more probably, exactly because of – its spectacularly isolated location on the northern shores of the Pacific, Vancouver has, in recent decades, grown into an important center of contemporary visual arts. Home to artists of such critically acclaimed stature as Stan Douglas, Rodney Graham, Ken Lum, Jeff Wall and Ian Wallace, all of whom have exhibited extensively in Europe and the Americas, Vancouver has firmly established itself as an international art hub of the first order. Although some of the aforementioned artists will of course figure prominently in the exhibition, “Intertidal” explicitly seeks to address the wide-ranging riches of art practices that have been developing in Vancouver since these figureheads first came to the fore some ten to fifteen years ago, and focus on the irreducible heterogeneity of artistic production of recent years. A grand total of sixteen artists, many of them still relatively little known in Europe, are invited to contribut e existing works or create site-specific new work for the exhibition. Taking into account the historical primacy of photographic practice in ‘Vancouver art’, the exhibition will boast its fair share of photographic works, films and video projections; a series of drawings, paintings and sculptural works, however, will complete the picture of a city survey dedicated to documenting an arts ‘scene’ characterized by a rigorous commitment to the politics of the image and imaging as such.

Vikky Alexander, Roy Arden, Scott McFarland and Kelly Wood ‘represent’ the photographic paradigm as a cornerstone of much Vancouver-based art practice; two historical photo-based works by Ian Wallace define the parameters of the city’s well-known brand of conceptual art, commonly referred to as “photo-conceptualism”. Stan Douglas, Rodney Graham, Damian Moppett and Judy Radul present highly accomplished video and film works that enact the ambiguities ingrained in British Columbia’s ‘supernatural’ landscape, whereas the works of Rebecca Belmore, Brian Jungen, Tim Lee and Ron Terada deal with the ambivalences and mixed blessings of ‘culture’ and (sub)urbanization. A conscious re-engagement with more ‘traditional’ modes of production such as drawing, painting and sculpture, take up centre stage in the artistic practices of Geoffrey Farmer, Liz Magor and Steven Shearer.

Throughout the exhibition, there will be displays and panels providing ‘background’ information on Vancouver and the Northwestern Pacific as a whole, shedding more light on the general cultural conditions of Vancouver’s rise to art world fame in the eighties and nineties – the central storyline behind the exhibition’s geographic rationale.

Archive In a historical introduction to the actual exhibition titled “Intertidal Archive”, co-curator Scott Watson has assembled a number of unique documents that help to establish a historical context for the local arts scene in Vancouver from the late sixties to mid-seventies – a key moment when conceptual art ‘officially’ enters the Pacific Northwestern cultural consciousness and the foundations are laid down for what would become, a decade and a half or so later, the official story of the “Vancouver School of Photo-conceptualism”. This archive includes photo-documentation of Robert Smithson’s Glue Pour (1969), a work realized on the occasion of Lucy Lippard’s seminal 955,000 exhibition of contemporary art at the Vancouver Art Gallery (the catalogue of which, along with publications of Robert Smithson and Seth Siegelaub exhibition projects, will also be on view in the vitrines); various ‘historical’ photo-documents by Michael de Courcy, Christos Dikeakos, Dean Ellis, and Ia in & Ingrid Baxter’s crucial concept art outfit “N.E. Thing Company”; various paraphernalia from the Morris/Trasov Archive; documents of artworks and/or performances by Tom Burrows (in the so-called “intertidal zone” from which the exhibition derives its title), Roy Kiyooka and Glenn Lewis. Pride of place is taken up by Jeff Wall’s Landscape Manual from 1969, a casual manifesto of sorts of Vancouver’s idiosyncratic photo-tradition to come, Ken Lum’s early Entertainment for Surrey (1978), and Robert Kleyn’s Architecture of the Fraser Valley from 1979, featuring contributions by Rodney Graham among others. Last but not least, the Intertidal Archive also includes a rare gem of local pop lore – the eponymous debut album by Vancouver’s no wave pioneers UJ3RK5, a band that at one time united the musicianship of Rodney Graham, Jeff Wall and Ian Wallace.

Curators: Scott Watson (Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver) & Dieter Roelstraete (MuHKA, Museum for Contemporary Art Antwerp)

Publication As befits an arts community world-renowned for its high level of theoretical literacy – and for fostering many artists who have themselves become highly respected writers and thinkers on contemporary art – a comprehensive catalogue will be published on the occasion of the exhibition, featuring essays by some of Canada’s most distinguished critics, theorists and writers. Documenting both the (pre-)history and current flowering of Vancouver art as a whole, this book should indeed be regarded as a reader instead of merely a catalogue, and will surely set a standard for any future research on Vancouver art.

Ian Wallace upholds the time-honed tradition of critical artists’ writings in the city; as co-curators of the exhibition and co-editors of its manual or reader, both Dieter Roelstraete and Scott Watson have contributed lengthy essays on the artists and artworks in the exhibition and its archive; acclaimed art historians Shepherd Steiner and WilliamWood have written on different ‘historical’ aspects of the local art scene, while Vancouver-based curator Monika Szewczyk ponders the role of performance in the city’s visual arts. Reid Shier, currently chief curator at Toronto’s Power Plant, has written on the work of a new generation of artists emerging in the early nineties, when he himself was a driving force behind one of the city’s prime artist-run centres. Finally, Vancouver-based writer Michael Turner’s contribution to “Intertidal” presents a literary take on the exhibition’s overarching oceanographic theme.

The book is co-published by MuHKA and the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia.

SNOW FLAKES & TV SIGNALS Concurrent with the exhibition, MuHKA_media will present an extensive film- and media program, entitled “Snow Flakes & TV Signals”. The main focus of the program will concern Canada’s rich film tradition as seen from the point of view of (Edmonton-born) Marshall McLuhan’s media studies.

The program includes over twenty titles of various known and less well-known directors, from David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan (both operating from Toronto, the nerve centre of the Canadian Film industry) to Inuit filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk and experimental filmmakers such as Michael Snow and Guy Maddin. In addition to this program a separate film and/or documentary section grafted on the specific theme of Vancouvers ‘Intertidal Zone’ as a free port of dissident traditions will be organized towards the end of the exhibition.

The MuHKA_media program is curated by Edwin Carels.


only in german

INTERTIDAL: Vancouver Art & Artists
Kuratoren: Scott Watson, Dieter Roelstraete

mit Vikky Alexander, Roy Arden, Rebecca Belmore, Stan Douglas, Geoffrey Farmer, Rodney Graham, Brian Jungen, Tim Lee, Scott McFarland, Liz Magor, Damian Moppett, Judy Radul, Steven Shearer, Ron Terada, Ian Wallace, Kelly Wood