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05 Mar 2018

CAG presents Feature Exhibition launching Capture Photography Festival 2018

Joi T. Arcand, 'Northern Pawn, South Vientam - North Battleford, Saskatchewan', 2009, from the series 'otē nīkān misiwē askīhk - Here On Future Earth'.
Courtesy the artist and Saskatchewan Arts Board Permanent Collection

The Blue Hour
Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver


Exhibition opening: Thursday April 5, 7-9.30pm Exhibition dates: April 6 - June 24, 2018 Gallery hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 12-6pm Free admission

Contemporary Art Gallery
+1 604 681 2700
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Contemporary Art Gallery
555 Nelson Street
Vancouver BC, V6B 6R5

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The Contemporary Art Gallery is pleased to present 'The Blue Hour', the Feature Exhibition launching this year's Capture Photography Festival. Bringing together five artists from Canada and abroad, the exhibition will encompass all of the gallery's presentation spaces, including the CAG's exterior façade and three off-site locations in downtown Vancouver.

The central premise of The Blue Hour extends from a remark made in 1857 by art historian and critic Elizabeth Eastlake, who described the photographic image as one that approaches us from the future and arrives in the present. While referring to the new technologies surrounding the development of chemical photography, Eastlake's comment might also be interpreted, as art historian and critical theorist Kaja Silverman suggests in The Miracle of Analogy: The History of Photography, Part I, as an invitation to upend our reading of the photographic, approaching it as a powerful channel through which the world might reveal itself to us. Here, the photograph becomes a tool with speculative potential, rather than one with simply the power to memorialize.

Making reference to the brief period of twilight at dawn and dusk when the linearity of time appears to momentarily halt, The Blue Hour presents work by five artists – Joi T. Arcand, Kapwani Kiwanga, Colin Miner, Grace Ndiritu, and Kara Uzelman – that together act as a proposition to consider the futurity of the photographic image and its relationship to time. We might understand this 'blue hour' as comparable to the photographic event, which as literary theorist Eduardo Cadava has claimed, 'interrupts the present; [...] occurs between the present and itself, between the movement of time and itself.'

Joi T. Arcand is from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in central Saskatchewan, whose practice is concerned with the invisibility of Indigenous presence in contemporary Canadian culture. In her series Here on Future Earth (2009), Arcand manipulates all visible signage within images of small-town Saskatchewan streetscapes, replacing English with Cree syllabics. Through this intervention, she proposes a radical shift to an Indigenous-centred worldview enacted through language, imagining an alternative past/present/future. As a public intervention, three images from the series are reproduced on the facades of Vancouver's downtown Canada Line stations: City Centre, Yaletown-Roundhouse and Waterfront. Returned to the street, the photographs' Cree wordage challenges the visual cacophony of existing images and signage of this settler city built upon unceded Indigenous ground.

Kapwani Kiwanga's Subduction Studies (2017) considers the geological hypothesis Pangaea Ultima, which predicts a re-merger of all continents into a single supercontinent, with Europe sliding underneath Africa some 200 million years in the future. In each work, Kiwanga selects two geological samples from the collection of the Natural History Museum in Paris and photographs them. By creasing the prints, Kiwanga aligns the two rocks; one image, a rock from the European side of the strait of Gibraltar, the other a sample originating in North Africa – whereby fold line becomes fault line – and effectively enacts the eons-long geologic process of tectonic convergence.

Since 2010, Kenyan/British artist Grace Ndiritu has been developing an encyclopedic archive, A Quest For Meaning (AQFM,) which acts as a creation story from the beginning of time itself, linking seemingly disparate objects and events from the flash of light that was the Big Bang up to our present day. Installed upon colour-blocked walls that Ndiritu calls 'Bright Young Things,' the artist's material and compositional strategies disrupt and confound the viewers' presumptions about what they are looking at. As a further play on expansion and proliferation, a special edition of Ndiritu's AQFM newspaper, featuring the artist's essay 'The End of History,' is available free to take away, and 'colonizes' CAG's exterior windows.

Kara Uzelman's Perpetual Motion (2018) is part of an ongoing series of new works initiated through a field trip to an abandoned farmyard near Speers, Saskatchewan. Once occupied by the artist's grandfather, the farm was eventually lost and Uzelman's grandfather became focussed on designing a perpetual motion machine. Despite having met him only a handful of times, Uzelman inherited his notes and drawings. By way of delving into this history, the photograph becomes the conduit that unites site with collected objects and information, functioning as the 'glue' in an assemblage. Through the manipulation of the collected materials, chronology becomes dislocated, and photographs become tools for future use in an as-yet unnamed context.

For Colin Miner, a constellation of disparate objects, images and videos are brought together to create converging lines of inquiry. Plaster and latex casts of dust covers for photographic equipment are tinted by different hues of red light thrown by two neon sculptures. A large-scale print portrays the slippage of silver emulsion across the surface of a photographic plate – quite literally an image of photography's unfixed state. This movement of glittering emulsion is also echoed in the video Untitled (snail) (2017), which follows in an endless loop. As writer Jacqueline Mabey remarks about Miner's work, 'you can try to fix the image, but it will never stick. The temporality of the photograph is not the 'there-then' but contains the kernel of potential futures, held in eternal 'yet-could-be.''

Presented in partnership with Capture Photography Festival. Grace Ndiritu is generously supported by The British Council.