Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

i can see your underwear

i can see your underwear
Natalie Purschwitz & Kelly Lycan

January 15 – March 12, 2011
Opening: Friday, January 14, 8:00 pm
Catalogue Launch and Artist Talk:  Saturday, February 12, 2:00 – 4:00 pm

Curator: Makiko Hara

Sponsor: The Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts
Exhibition Patrons: David Cousins, Sherry Killam, Coleen and Howard Nemtin

Centre A is pleased to present i can see your underwear; a new site-specific installation by Vancouver based artists Natalie Purschwitz and Kelly Lycan. Focusing on a ubiquitous but ideologically charged material-plastic-the artists will examine the relationship between material culture and mythology. During a three-month production residency, the artists have accumulated and arranged a vast array of plastic materials that are being re-activated as installations.

Lycan and Purschwitz are interested in both the ephemeral beauty and the permanent reality of plastic. Since a myth can be seen as an invented story that naturalizes our surroundings (such as explanations about the creation of the world, supplying reasons for the inexplicable miracles of nature), mythology can be used to locate and reveal ideology. Purschwitz and Lycan intend to present collections of plastic in a way that interprets the narrative that we as a culture have ascribed.

The intersection of Purschwitz and Lycan’s work is located in their interest in collecting, how it reflects aspects of private/public life and informs how we order the material world.  Through their art practices Lycan and Purschwitz store and rearrange material culture and its relationship to display, design and contemporary art in order to address how aesthetic positions are created.

For this exhibition viewers will be drawn into the vast and cavernous space of Centre A through a series of installations that attempt to lure them into a visceral plastic world:  An over-abundant swing references Rococo excess; a soft, giant shrine nods toward the seductive structure of a bower-bird’s lair; a super-saccharin tower of transparent treats smacks of Babylonian and Platonic references.

The title, i can see your underwear, hearkens back to schoolyard taunts, suggesting a momentary spectacle, both shameless and shameful depending on one’s position. Like the emperor and his new clothes, the metaphoric transparency of the materials belies its true nature, and while we are seduced by its colourful cheer we also come to realize that we are frolicking in our own demise.

Artist Biographies:

Kelly Lycan is an installation and photo based artist residing in Vancouver, Canada. She received her BFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and her MFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. How value is created and how it shifts through system of cultural capital and consumer culture is relevant to Lycan’s practice. She has exhibited in solo and group shows in Canada and the US. Lycan is also a member of Instant Coffee, a service oriented artist collective that has exhibited in Canada, South America, Europe and the USA.

Natalie Purschwitz has a BFA in Intermedia from ECUAD and a BA in Archaeology from the University of Calgary. Her work seeks out spaces between art and design, performance and daily life. She has shown her artwork in Canada and Japan, and was the 2010 recipient of the Carter Wosk BC Creative Achievement Award. Purschwitz has a clothing line called Hunt & Gather and she recently completed a one-year project called Makeshift, during which time she only wore things she made herself.  This work will be on display in an upcoming show at the Vancouver Art Gallery in February 2011.


Several individual patrons have come forward with support for i can see your underwear. David Cousins has covered artist fees, while donations from Sherry Killam and Coleen and Howard Nemtin support publication of the exhibition catalogue. Centre A thanks these patrons and salutes their vision and leadership.

This project is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Centre A gratefully acknowledges the support of all its patrons, sponsors, members, partners, private foundations, and government funding agencies, including the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, and the City of Vancouver through the Office of Cultural Affairs.



Press Contact: Makiko Hara
Curator, Centre A
Tel: 604-683-8326/ Fax:604-683-8632