August 1, 2017
VANCOUVER ART GALLERY
Julia Feyrer/Tamara Henderson, Shelagh Keeley, and Germaine Koh
June 24–October 1, 2017
Vancouver Art Gallery
750 Hornby Street
Vancouver BC V6Z 2H7
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Persistence draws together three recent installations to explore the surprising and creative ways that technologies, physical objects and natural processes endure and transform. The exhibition’s premise is inspired by media critic Marshall McLuhan’s ideas concerning “the role of obsolescence in sparking creativity and the invention of new order.” In his short text “A Note on Obsolescence,” he poses questions about how and why some objects and concepts are renewed and kept alive. In light of this idea, each of these works offers viewers insightful propositions about perseverance, especially during this time of social and political upheavals.
The discerning note by McLuhan is referenced in Toronto-based artist Shelagh Keeley’s installation, Notes on Obsolescence (2014). In this work she features photographs of textile looms in a German factory that was relocated to Asia, prompting references to technological and capitalist cycles. Overlaying these industrial images with drawings that trace the threads of the everyday, the artist in effect interrupts these cycles and marks other temporalities.
Exploring different forms of human perception, Vancouver-based artists Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson’s collaborations often tap into the unconscious. Their work in this exhibition comprises a group of found tables brimming with a myriad of salvaged and fabricated objects that summon different characters. Variously invoking theatre, play, myth and ritual, this installation recycles and animates mundane objects in a capricious, sometimes disorienting, response to materials.
Vancouver artist Germaine Koh’s Fair-weather forces (water level) (2008) also recasts the familiar in unpredictable ways. The work is a series of velvet ropes, hanging between a row of stanchions, which rise and fall in response to tidal levels recorded at a nearby dock. Echoing natural systems in a gallery environment, Koh’s work dramatizes the persistence of nature’s processes and their profound ability to shape and regulate our lives, even in the face of human efforts to control them.
Exhibiting these pieces from the collection provides the museum with an important opportunity to work directly with the artists in order to develop installation plans and care strategies for preserving these complex works into the future. We thank them for their generous involvement in this process.
Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator/Associate Director
Julia Feyrer / Tamara Henderson
Canadian artists Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson began working together in 2009 when they were both students at the Städelschule in Frankfurt, Germany. While maintaining active solo practices, these emerging artists have produced a series of interconnected installations, films and performances through their collaborations. In their artworks, things continually shift in form and meaning, lending themselves to exploring the channels between the unconscious and the everyday.
Julia Feyrer was born in Victoria, British Columbia. She completed a Bachelor of Media Arts from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver, after which she continued her studies at the Städelschule, Frankfurt. Her work has been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions, primarily in Western Canada and in New York.
Tamara Henderson was born in Sackville, New Brunswick. She studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax; the Städelschule, Frankfurt; and the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm. Her work has been included in exhibitions throughout North America and Europe, including documenta 13 and Glasgow International.
Shelagh Keeley is an established Canadian artist whose interdisciplinary approach promotes a sensory awareness of lived experience and layered, cultural histories. Shelagh Keeley was born in Oakville, Ontario and graduated in 1977 from York University, Toronto, where she now resides. Having lived in New York and Paris for 22 years in the 1980s and '90s, she has exhibited throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Her artworks are held in prominent public and private collections in North America and Europe. In 2017 Keeley was recognized with the Governor General’s Award in Visual Art.
Germaine Koh’s conceptually driven practice often challenges the boundaries between art and everyday life by linking the interior spaces of the art world—the gallery, the museum, the studio—to larger social and environmental contexts. Germaine Koh was born in Malaysia and currently lives in Vancouver, working in a variety of media including installation, sculpture and performance. She studied fine art and art history at the University of Ottawa and received her MFA from Hunter College in New York. She has exhibited her work in numerous exhibitions since the early 1990s across Canada, in Europe and Asia. She was the 2010 recipient of the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation VIVA Award.
About the Vancouver Art Gallery
Founded in 1931, the Vancouver Art Gallery is recognized as one of North America’s most respected and innovative visual arts institutions. The Gallery’s innovative ground-breaking exhibitions, extensive public programs and emphasis on advancing scholarship all focus on the historical and contemporary art of British Columbia and international centres, with special attention to the accomplishments of Indigenous artists and the art of the Asia Pacific region—through the Institute of Asian Art founded in 2014. The Gallery’s programs also explore the impacts of images in the larger sphere of visual culture, design and architecture.
The Vancouver Art Gallery is a not-for-profit organization supported by its members, individual donors, corporate funders, foundations, the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts.
*Left: Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson, Newspaper/Boiler Room Table (detail), 2013–16, fromThe Last Waves: Laboratory, 2015–16. Bar coasters (2013), brick press, glassblower's newspaper paddle, indigo, Night Times offset plates, Night Times Press Newspaper Bottle extras (2013), paper bricks. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, gift of the artists. Center: Germaine Koh, Fair-weather forces (water level), 2008. Stainless steel, A/V components, textile. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Purchased with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Grants program and the Vancouver Art Gallery Acquisition Fund. Right: Shelagh Keeley, Notes on Obsolescence (detail), 2014. Acrylic paint, collage elements, crayon, graphite, oil stick, photograph on paper and plastic film. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, anonymous gift. Photos: Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery.