When I think of terracotta, I think of
strength: tiles of stability, roofs of protection, statues of preservation, and
warriors of the afterlife. It can hold its own against the elements and
withstand almost any form of manipulation, but it is weak in the face of
Like terracotta, we humans can attest to
possessing a similar paradox. During stressful bouts, even the strongest can shatter.
Babak Golkar’s current installation at
Offsite investigates this relationship between composure and vulnerability.
Situated in Vancouver’s business district, Golkar invites the public to release
their emotions into five terracotta vessels that have been designed to contain
a scream. Surrounded by high-rise office towers and high-end business centres
that house high-levels of stress, I could not imagine a more appropriate
location for this installation.
With all of the pressures of senior year
weighing me down, I could not wait to let it all go, yet when I arrived at the
tranquil scene, I experienced quite a bit of hesitation. Each vessel was
propped up on a stack of sandbags that were surrounded by a thin layer of
water, creating a peaceful setting I did not want to disrupt. Although cars
were whizzing by and snippets of overheard conversations polluted the air, everything
just felt too quiet!
After having timidly stood at the edge of
the site staring at the vessels for some time, I worked up the courage to let
my lungs have their way. I stuck my head in and...AHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhh!???
It was awkward. I was expecting the roar of
a lion, but instead I released the peep of a mouse. Why was this so difficult?
To put things into perspective, if you were
to look up the antonym for “rebel”, my name would yield the first result. I was
that kid in kinder-garden who was
awarded the gold stars for never speaking out of turn and whispering in the
library, and although I have certainly relaxed over the years, my goody-two-shoes
character hasn’t shed completely. That being said, even when given permission
to yell to my heart’s content, I was rather tentative.
Having been taught to use my “inside voice”
through all of my childhood, I (un)learned a valuable lesson in social
etiquette through Golkar’s piece: being fragile takes a fair bit of strength. By
pushing the public to find comfort in the uncomfortable, Golkar has created a
transparent form of therapy that leaves participants with an enlightened sense
With my head emerged in the terracotta
mouth, I stood in silence and allowed the external sounds to echo in the
chamber. My breathing was amplified by the shape of the vessel, creating an
ambient arrangement of inhales, exhales, and muffled city sounds. It was an
overwhelming feeling of being entirely surrounded by yourself that cannot
exactly be described, only experienced.
of the things that really stood out to me about Golkar’s piece was the use of
sound. I was really interested in how the sounds of the surrounding city became
fused with the quiet thoughts inside my head while my face was buried in the
vessel. The meditative quality of this experience served as inspiration for my
exploratory piece. The following clip is comprised of a series of sounds
collected from my bedroom, a place where I do a lot of my thinking.
stressful times I often retreat into silence, creating a heightened sensitivity
to noise. Sometimes even the tiniest rustle seems amplified, which can be REALLY
distracting when I am trying to focus on something. But on the other hand, by
allowing myself to be completely aware of surrounding sounds, I am able to mute
my thoughts and in turn, let go of whatever is on my mind.
When tasked with creating an exhibition for the Point Gallery, we were
given the theme of public engagement. Our goal was to get as many students as
possible to come down to the Point Gallery and participate in our exhibition.
When brainstorming ways of getting people to come to the gallery we thought of
the couches in the library. Everyone always rushes to the couches and tries to
get the best spot for themselves and their friends. For our show, we decided to
explore this obsession by bringing couches down to the gallery...but our artistic
process didn’t end here.
We were inspired by Vancouver artist Ken Lum’s piece Red Circle, in
which he created a couch that challenged the convention and efficiency of
We liked the idea of the awkward couch that Lum used and decided to explore
this concept of awkward-comfort.
We sourced four couches from around the school and each day, we
arranged them in new unconventional positions that not only challenged how
visitors interacted with the furniture, but also how they interacted with the
people around them in accordance to how the couches were set up.
During each lunch period, we took photos of people interacting with
the space and displayed them in a linear arrangement on the gallery wall. This
created a timeline of sorts and served as documentary evidence of how the
exhibit evolved each day, as well a method of creating intrigue. As the
exhibition began to take off, we noticed that certain students returned to the
space just to see if they were captured in the previous days’ round of photos.
Every day we noticed differences in how people responded to the
exhibit: when there was more comfort and it was less awkward, more people came
but didn’t understand that they were participating in an art intervention. When
the couches were more awkward and less comfortable, less people came but those
that did come understood the intention of the show.
The best set ups were when the couches were positioned in a way that
was awkward, but didn’t impede on the conversations between people. The spiral
pattern on Day 5, and the corner arrangement on Day 6 had the best mix of the
two elements and drew the perfect crowd with a good size and mindset.
Over the course of our seven day exhibition, certain regulars started
showing up but new people continued to arrive every day.
Our forms of advertisement included a Facebook page, where we posted
daily photos and information about upcoming events, posters that we hung
throughout the hall ways, and many announcements over the P.A. In our
advertisements we concentrated solely on one phrase: “Couches in Room 108”. The
repetition of this vague line conveyed what we were doing in its simplest form,
but also sparked intrigue.
The show had certain aspects that made it a success and certain
aspects that were failures. It was successful in the way that we got huge
crowds down to the isolated room and made it known that the Point Gallery
existed. On the other hand, the crowd that came to the gallery was dominated by
Grade 12s who were only looking for somewhere to sit.
This conflict could also be partially attributed to the fact that prior
to our exhibition, the majority of the student body was not aware that Room 108
was in fact an art gallery.
But it is understandable how this mistake could be made. From the
checkered floors, to the frosted windows, to the chairs and tables stored in the
space, the Point Gallery looks more like a retro storage room than a typical
art gallery. It is far from being the typical “white cube” that people are used
to. This led us to question how context plays a role in the outcome of
interactive exhibitions. It would be interesting to recreate this experiment in
a space where it was obvious that one shouldn’t
interact with the couches and observe how the exchanges would modified.
Looking back at the exhibit there were certain things that could have
been done differently to attract a more diverse crowd. Many of the younger
students seemed to be intimidated by the Grade 12s and wouldn’t stay for long.
There should have been signs showing people where Room 108 was actually located
and we should have been more proactive about getting the younger grades to come
to the gallery.
Overall, although Couches in Room 108 had its pitfalls, we learned a
lot about collaboration and what it takes to put together an art exhibition. We
would like to thank everyone who participated and supported our show, as well
as Mr. Long, Mr. Enns, and Kirsten Hermanson for letting us borrow your
-Aly Slobodov, Cosette Bote, Kevin McCallum, Kiel Torres
At a first
glance, Burdeny’s artworks look nothing more than simplistic parallel objects,
or patterned landscapes. Then you ponder upon this simplicity. What is this?
These are actually photographs? Where is this? How is this taken? The foggy
background presents an ominous feeling, which almost numbs your senses. It
offers a melancholy, wistful, and confusing atmosphere, which makes it that
much more intriguing.
purpose behind these photographs is this idea of Saudade: a Portuguese word referring
to this desire for what was or what could be—to be someplace anywhere but the
present. These photographs are supposed to represent a dream state where one
floats above and wonders through, with no prescribed destination. Burdeny
purposely objectifies his images, to create this feeling of being neither of
this world, or another, but in between.
With this idea
of objectifying images, and Burdeny’s use of parallel structure/pattern, I
similarly took photos of architectural structures and landscapes. By playing
with close-ups, and angles, I wanted to achieve Burdeny’s idea of Saudade, and
create that dream state of floating in between worlds.
Friday April 25th saw the Art Careers 12 group return to the satellite gallery for a full day workshop. The plan included working with the artists, developing imagery and then creating a collaborative installation of the artwork developed in the Gallery's "window space".
The group worked with the artists creating contact microphones from scratch. They used the mics in the area collecting sound native to the location, a strategy that the grad students used themselves.
They then ran the collected sounds through a program called "Audacity" which transformed the sounds into abstract images, which were then projected onto the walls of the gallery.
Pinning paper up the walls, the students responded to the images projected, tracing, colouring, drawing.
It was interesting to see the development of their collaborative process, beginning quietly, tentatively, safely, and developing into a more interactive and discussive, though still fairly tentative, relationship.
Now they had the challenge, using much the same collaborative strategies as were used in the Grad student's exhibition, to inhabit the window space and, using their developed imagery as well as any found items, to install a "stream of consciousness exhibition. I stayed outside and watched (which they said made them feel like "gerbils in a cage" :) and it was fascinating. I watched them learn how to work with one another and how to work with what they had to develop an interesting, engaging and meaningful exhibition.
On April 23rd 2014 the PG Art Careers 12 class travelled to Satellite gallery after school to meet some artists. These artists are Grad students at UBC who were in the midst of creating a time-based, perpetually developing, collaborative art exhibition which explored the history of the Satellite gallery space and explored the collaborative process and audience participation/interaction. Check out more about the project on the Satellite website: http://www.satellitegallery.ca/extended-party-mix.html. This was to be part 1 of a two part workshop for the students in which they explored these themes from a curatorial, as well as artistic angle. Our goal was to introduce the Grad's project as well as the grad's themselves as well as entice our own students to begin thinking about these themes. The end result of this two hour intensive was for the students to create a blog entry for the Satellite blog reviewing the exhibition. The intense timeline made it necessary for the students to organize quickly and collaborate effectively in order to meet the deadline. Their solution (which was fabulous to watch develop) was an "exquisite corpse" format for composing the review: passing around computers (each screen with a different theme written at the top) with half composed thoughts, to be finished or left behind by the next contributor, unedited, spelling mistakes, grammar errors, stream of consciousness. The results can be seen here: http://satellitegallery.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/collective-consciousneawkward-sweaty-dance-party/
Stay tuned for part two in which our heroes get to make some art!
A painting project by my art 9's. I am always trying to get them introduced to new ideas for drawing, painting and image development and this one really progressed naturally from having them create a new drawing tool (4 pencil crayons tied to a flat piece of cardboard). The inherent limitations of the tool forced them to think about their drawings in more abstract terms and notice composition rather than torturing themselves trying to draw the flowers "just right". From there I just told them that they needed to demonstrate their understanding of the painting techniques that we had learned (gradation/blending, glazing, and edging) and of colour theory. Really loose, they're a class that needs some freedom. I'm very pleased with the results.