Richmond Art Gallery (RAG) is heavily involved with the 2018 Capture Photography Festival, an annual Metro Vancouver event packed with thought-provoking exhibitions and innovative installations.
This year, RAG’s Capture initiative includes two new gallery shows – each opening April 6 – plus some intriguing offsite exhibits at Canada Line stations in Richmond and beyond. RAG director and curator Shaun Dacey talked to us about the program – and explained why you should check it out.
Tourism Richmond: What will we see at these two new gallery shows?
Shaun Dacey: You’ll see two solo exhibitions by two stellar Vancouver artists. In her For the Left Hand Alone exhibition, Karilynn Ming Ho has produced an exquisite video projection and a series of sculptural works in response. The exhibition uses the metaphor of phantom limb syndrome to question the fragmented experience of our digital lives.
Our other exhibition is Cover to Cover by Ho Tam. It presents Tam’s self-publishing practice, displaying selected book pages, works in series and other images across the gallery’s walls. Installed en masse and organically, it invokes a free-flowing collage.
TR: What do you hope visitors take away from viewing these shows?
SD: It’s a chance to take in the talent of our local artistic community. Ming Ho has produced an immaculate installation and Tam is an artist who has been working for decades. Each exhibition engages critical social and political ideologies – and each is informed by the ways in which media disseminates information to us.
Photo credit: Karilynn Ming Ho, For The Left Hand Alone, detail, production still, 2017
SD: We were very lucky to work with Richmond Public Art Program, Capture Photography Festival and Canada Line to make this happen!
At Brighouse Station, Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes’ bold installation Soon responds to the commercial advertising surrounding it. Both in reference to, and disruptive against, the global clothing brand adverts displayed across the station’s glass façades, Holmes’ piece initially blends in but on closer inspection disrupts expectations.
At Lansdowne Station, Ho Tam presents Barbershops – four photographs of barbershops in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Capturing these shops as key sites for community building, exchange and identity construction, the work connects to the thriving Chinese diaspora in Richmond. I just saw it installed and it looks amazing!
At Aberdeen Station, Karilynn Ming Ho’s alluring installation Mirror Flower, Water Moon utilizes deceptive technologies. The images are derived from Universal Adversarial Perturbations (UAP), visual textures and algorithmic vectors meant to disarm, confuse and deceive artificial intelligence. The title is from a Chinese proverb, denoting something that can only be seen but not grasped – like a flower in a mirror or reflections of the moon in the water.
At Bridgeport Station, located in close proximity to the Fraser River, artist David Semeniuk’s Perimeter series focuses on Richmond’s shared border with Vancouver. This site has been rapidly transformed, from an Indigenous-managed estuarine environment and settlement to an industrial working river. This history and the shift toward leisure and luxury accommodation here is alluded to, with a log boom in the Fraser River seen alongside the marginal edge of a golf course.
TR: You’re also staging an exhibit at Vancouver’s Waterfront Station – is that a RAG first?
SD: Yes, this is the first time! It was very generous of the Capture Photography Festival to invite us to do this installation. It creates a nice connection across the Canada Line, the main transit hub for commuting Richmondites and visitors to the city. The piece by Ho Tam – Guys at the Fair, a playful series of seven portraits shot at the 2003 Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto – connects viewers directly to our exhibition at the gallery in Richmond. So it is a bit of promotion as well. Like, hey look at this cool artist and he has a full show in Richmond, jump on the train!
TR: Why stage offsite exhibits like this – what can they achieve?
SD: I think art galleries are privileged spaces. Many people feel intimidated or uncertain about entering – or they may feel they can’t have an opinion on the work without an art history degree. But installing thoughtful artwork at these public sites can produce interactions and conversations among artists and residents. It is exciting to see the work of B.C.’s emergent artistic talent connect with new spaces and publics.
TR: You’re also leading some Canada Line artwork tours on April 21 and beyond. What can participants expect?
SD: It’ll be fun! We will stop at each station installation and I’ll discuss the work in relation to the artist’s overall practice and also more specifically how the work engages with Richmond. It will be a nice afternoon of commuting and chatting about the work. We are also hosting Chinese language tours on April 22, 28 and later in May.
Photo credit: Ho Tam, #6 Magazines, 2017Photo
TR: Finally, why do you think locals and visitors should check out these shows and artworks?
SD: I think each project is captivating, innovative and so interesting – they are all worth peoples’ time. The works are responding to our changing economic and cultural landscape, the ubiquity of advertising and the influence of digital technology within our daily lives. Together, they address the lure of the photographic image and its ability to instill desire and longing in its audience. The best part is, this is all free!