Vancouver – VIVO Media Art Centre | esse arts + opinions

Vancouver – VIVO Media Art Centre

  • Abbas Akhavan, Untitled Garden, 2008. photo: Adam Brickell, courtesy VIVO Media Arts Centre

[Texte en anglais]

Marina Roy / Abbas Akhavan
VIVO Media Art Centre, Vancouver, October 17—November 8, 2008

One navigates through a dense wall of eight-foot tall cedar hedges in a darkened room to become immersed in a large video projection, showing a sequence of spaces one can only describe as decadently surreal. The massive cedar hedge is a trademark sign of suburban Vancouver, blocking views into or outside of the standard multi-bedroom homes that line either side of south Granville. Abbas Akhavan has appropriated the hedges and brought them inside, extending the awkward ritual of entering the gallery space. One already feels like an interloper: this particular gallery features not one, but two doors, and neither ever looks open. Akhavan’s Untitled Garden simply prolongs this experience, while evoking the similar feeling of trespassing. This project is an extension of Akhavan’s other works situated at the gallery doors: a pile of shoes lies at the foot of the entrance, a white sheet hangs from a window, a wall of sandbags forms a military barricade. The entrance to the gallery is a site of special significance, representing the threshold between expected and unexpected sites of cultural production, and ultimately inflecting on our performance as viewers.

Inside the doors and beyond the cedar wall, Marina Roy’s epic animation, Apartment, takes its cue from Georges Perec’s 1978 novel La Vie, mode d’emploi in which he describes a Parisian apartment block in exhaustive detail, as if seen without a façade, exposing every room. Perec guides the reader from one apartment to the next following the pattern of the knight’s move in chess. In a similar tack, Roy uses this structure to weave together a sequence of surreal images and sounds that use decadent apartment settings. Fantastical creatures weave through the scenes, taking over the rooms in a culminating sequence of transgressive acts, as if the entire space has succumbed to an alternate logic. Figures battle, defecate, consummate, and otherwise deface the bourgeois interiors in a series of sequences that can only be described as psychologically indulgent.

Roy works across disciplines, making images, objects and animations as a means to visualize the unconscious. Her idiosyncratic taxonomy of forms investigates how language and images produce meaning, tapping into alternative models of knowledge production, deeply informed by philosophy, theory and literature. She takes this accumulated knowledge and lets loose scenes of ludic chaos, illness, ecstasy and transgression, radically disrupting the power embodied in such spaces. Equally smart, funny, disturbing and enthralling, Roy reveals a way of thinking through representation that is as transgressive as it is productive.

Neither work in this exhibition welcomes you into the space; you remain as an interloper and a voyeur. If there were a connection between the two projects by Akhavan and Roy, then it would be in their unwillingness to allow for an easy read.


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