Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
Thinking Forward, Looking Back, Centre A Presents:
March 17 – May 13
Patrick Cruz, Gwenessa Lam, Evan Lee, Mehran Modarres, Byron Peters, Tadasu Takamine, Alex Cu Unjieng, and Qahraman Yousif
Opening March 16th, 7pm, 2017
In recent months the world has tipped past a precipice toward a dramatic time of transition. The shift is not necessarily sudden. The political trends of silencing scientists, appealing to nationalism, looking suspiciously on migrants or making hay by regulating religious dress have been fermenting for a while. Anti-diversity, anti-internationalist calls to patriotism have taken the Western world by storm, as though the post-WWII order is crumbling. It is no longer a given that those in power will pay even rhetorical homage to the advancement of democracy and human rights or the value of domestic diversity and international cultural and economic exchange. In such a moment, both the value and the feebleness of our cultural institutions become glaringly apparent and we are challenged to consider the role of art.
In Spring Exhibition we bring together the work of old and new friends to constitute a contemplative space stimulating considerations of the value of diversity and free expression, the struggles of migration and the possibility of cultural exchange.
Preluding this exhibition, on February 24th, on occasion of the 130th year since Vancouver’s first Anti-Chinese riots we held The Unwelcome Dinner. Chefs Wesley Young and Jacob Deacon Evans grounded diners’ palates in Vancouver’s foundational fissures and fusions, and host Henry Tsang, accompanied by various speakers, reflected on the history of racism and white supremacy in this city. Now, we invite Patrick Cruz, Gwenessa Lam, Evan Lee, Mehran Modarres, Byron Peters, Tadasu Takamine, Alex Cu Unjieng, and Qahraman Yousif to set the stage for a season of contemplation.
Qahraman Yousif’s work Lodge 179 is a reflection on the experience of imprisonment and migration and its effects on how language is experienced. Mehran Modarres’ Ma Miaeem, va Miravim/We Come and Go investigates hybridity and language through interventions in an English textbook from her childhood. Tadasu Takamine’s Ask for Trade illuminates moments of transformation during initial cross-oceanic engagement. Alex Cu Unjieng’s I Know Very Well, But Still utilizes décor in response to the gendered inequities of representation. Patrick Cruz’s Luzviminda explores cultural displacement and immigrant identity. Works from Gwenessa Lam’s Mongrel Histories series meditate on the history and value of cultural hybridity. With renderings from his Untitled Migrant Ship Re-Creation Project, Evan Lee examines the dual functions of depiction and construction in the portrayal of migrants. Byron Peters’ talk, Anti-Racist Mathematics and Other Stories, surveys selected communication and control technologies and their historical roots. In ad hoc constellation these artists’ works constitute a space for contemplation of the complexities of contemporary cultural/technological/political climate and the possibility of diversity.
Parallel to Spring Exhibition, Y Vy Truong and Christian Vistan have curated a selection of publications from Centre A’s reading room. At the centre of this gesture is documentation from the 1971 Vancouver Indo-Chinese Women’s Conference. The re-presentation of the literature produced for the Vancouver Indo-Chinese Women’s Conference expands public memory and re-conceptualizes the history of feminist movements in Canada. Truong and Vistan’s reading room challenges the Eurocentric memories, perspectives and tendencies in art, activism and other avenues of culture making in Vancouver, offering an inclusive space for the public to engage in conversations, to sip tea and consider paths forward.
Please join us for the opening of Spring Exhibition, at 7pm on March 16th, at Centre A, 229 East Georgia. The exhibition will be on display until May 13th. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 12pm-5pm. Over the course of the exhibition we will be holding talks, recordings and other events as relevant.
April 29, 3pm
Anti-racist Mathematics and Other Stories
Byron Peters presents a series of stories on the histories and languages underpinning technologies of communication and control. The talk offers useful insights into systems of thinking as well as practical proposals for moving forward.
May 13, 3pm
Unpacking Mending Peace
In 2006, Centre A held an exhibition of Yoko Ono’s work that included Mending Peace. When Centre A moved from its #2 West Hastings location to its current location at 229 East Georgia, the work, contained in a plain cardboard box was gifted to a local collector. On May 13 we will unpack that box and discuss the role of collections.
Artist Talk: Qahraman Yousif and Mehran Modarres
PATRICK CRUZ is a visual artist born in Manila. He works predominantly in painting, sculpture and installation, playing with themes of cultural displacement, immigration, and chaos. Cruz was awarded the Annual RBC Painting Prize in 2015. He holds an MFA from the University of Guelph, and a BFAs from both Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts. He has exhibited at 8eleven, Toronto; Projet Pangee, Montreal; Secret Eight, Calgary; Pablo the Fort, Taguig; Material Art Fair, Mexico City; Vastermalmsgallerian, Stockholm; and OR Gallery, Berlin, amongst others.
GWENESSA LAM is a visual artist and educator. Her artwork stems from interests in perception and the compression of time and memory within images. Lam received her BFA from the University of British Columbia and MFA from New York University. She has taught at New York University, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, the University of British Columbia. She has attended residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Skowhegan, MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Banff Centre. Her work has been exhibited at the Bronx Museum of Art, the Queens Museum of Art in New York, Galerie de L’UQAM, and Republic Gallery in Vancouver. Lam is currently on faculty at the Alberta College of Art and Design.
EVAN LEE is an artist currently living in Vancouver, BC. His experimental image-based work challenges conventions in media and portrayal. His practice, although centred around photography, frequently intervenes in the medium, foregoing typical modes of production in favour of practices of appropriation and experimental processes. His project on the MV Ocean Lady addresses concerns around nationalism and the politics of depiction of immigration and refugees. He has exhibited at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Presentation House Gallery, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. His practice also spans video, drawing, and painting. He holds both an MFA and a BFA from the University of British Columbia.
MEHRAN MODARRES is a visual artist and educator living in Vancouver, BC. Her practice investigates notions related to preservation and loss of cultural identity by exploring the degradations and disruptions of translation, migration, and cultural displacement. She received her BFA in Visual Art and BA in Art Education from the University of British Columbia. Modarres is a graduate candidate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design’s Low-Res Master’s Program. Her works have been exhibited at Cityscape Art Gallery, North Vancouver, and in several group exhibitions at Surrey Art Gallery, and recently at the Concourse Gallery as part of the graduate interim exhibition at Emily Carr University.
BYRON PETERS is a Vancouver-based artist and writer of Chinese-Canadian and European descent. His practice critically engages gentrification and displacement, economic imaginaries, prison education, and labour and materiality in the context of emerging technologies. His current projects include Secessio, a meditation on speculative notions of ‘the crowd,’ and The Beautiful Wondrous Fable, a look into the economies of fake-news. Peters’ works take the forms of sound, video, sculpture, and writing, and have been presented at Oi, Hong Kong, ICA Miami; The Southbank Centre, London; The White Building, London; The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco; The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York; and The Victoria and Albert Museum, London. In 2016, he was a participant in Centre A’s Centre B Studio Residency.
TAKAMINE TADASU was born in Kagoshima Japan in 1968, and currently lives in Akita. While studying lacquer work at Kyoto City University of Arts and Music, he worked with the artist collective Dumb Type in the 1990’s. He later did graduate work at the Institute for Advanced Media Arts and Sciences (IAMAS) in the GIFU Prefecture and began making time-based installations. Since the 2000s, Takamine has produced numerous performances based on the expressive power of the human body. He is engaged in a wide range of creative work crossing the boundaries of genre, collaborating with musicians and directing stage productions, for instance. Takamine’s work contends with intercultural space, sites of high charge and dissonance, between utterance and meaning, the visceral and the formulaic, moments before birth. His recent solo shows include Too Far to See (Yokohama Museum of Art, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, IKON Galleru, Birmingham, and the Kirishima Open-Air Museum, 2011-2012), and Tadasu Takamine’s Cool Japan (Art Tower Mito, 2012).
ALEX CU UNJIENG is a visual artist and printmaker whose work negotiates the complexities of identity in both the cultural and physically embodied realms. Her work is rooted in her experiences as a woman and immigrant, and seeks to critically confront conventions of representation and the production and dissemination of ideology. Multiplicity, illusion, and humour feature prominently in her practice, which takes form in multiple mediums, including printmaking, watercolour, and illustration. She holds a BFA from the University of British Columbia in Visual Arts with a minor in film studies. Her work, I Know Very Well… But Still is currently traveling across Canada in the group exhibition Material Girls, and she will be having her first solo exhibition in Manila, Philippines in April of this year.
QAHRAMAN YOUSIF is a Kurdish artist and activist born in Syria in 1964. He studied history at Damascus University and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts from the University of the Fraser Valley. An active poet and writer, he was Chair of Kurdish Theater Association, Buhar, and one of the founding members of Syrian Student Theater in Al Hasakh province. His most recent installation, Lodge 179, is a work based on his first-hand experience as a prisoner following his arrest in Syria 1992. Memory is the main source of most of his artworks; wherein he addresses both what is cruel and painful, as well as the bright and beautiful. He does not limit himself to one medium, as he believes that the idea defines the materials necessary for the artwork. He is a member of the Cyprus Artists Association (Skala) and has had several art exhibitions in Syria, Cyprus, and Canada.
Y VY TRUONG and CHRISTIAN VISTAN have been engaged in conversations in Centre A’s Reading Room and Archive for the past year. Truong is a research based artist and writer in Vancouver. Truong’s primary practice concerns the ephemeral qualities of archives, and how contemporary art practices mediate alternative historical narratives. She has held the position of Publications Intern at Centre A’s Reading Room and the Finlayson Collection of Rare Asian Art Books (2015 – Present). She is currently working towards her BA in English Literature and History from the University of British Columbia. In 2016, she received a Summer Fieldwork Grant from UBC’s Department of History. Vistan is a Vancouver-based Filipino Canadian artist originally from Bataan, a peninsular province in the Philippines. He has exhibited in Atlanta, Nashville, Boston and Vancouver. In 2016, he curated Here I only worry about my feet, your feet, everybody’s feet, a series of events, performances, and artist’s projects at Centre A, for Centre A’s Fourth Annual Recent Graduates Exhibition. He currently holds the position of Curatorial Assistant at Centre A and is working towards a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
Special thanks to: