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Contemporary Art Gallery

555 Nelson Street
Vancouver, Canada
Open from Tuesday to
Sunday 12 pm → 6 pm

Admission always free
21 Jan 10until28 Feb 10

An Invitation to An Infiltration

Fia Backström, Lucy Clout, Hadley+Maxwell, Jonathan Middleton, Dexter Sinister, Holly Ward, Jordan Wolfson

B.C. Binning and Alvin Balkind Galleries

A photograph of a city street at night, taken from a low vantage point, is overlaid with 7 illustrated Coca-Cola bottles with white liquid. The bottles have bare feet and appear to cross the street.

Jordan Wolfson, Con Leche (still), 2009. Courtesy the artist and Johann König, Berlin

An ideal context for an examination of the competitive nature of group exhibitions is during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. In order to take stock of the current state of artistic interventions in the physical space or institutional workings of a gallery, guest curator Eric Fredericksen brings together an international roster of artists for An Invitation to An Infiltration.

In 1996, artist Andrea Fraser criticized the competitive structure of group exhibitions of artists: “Every public juxtaposition of individual artistic positions on panels and in shows which invites viewers to compare, contrast and judge artists against each other reinscribes artists and works in this competitive structure, reducing them at the same time — regardless of intended effects — to their formal or strategic differences.” An Invitation to An Infiltration takes that critique as a model, making explicit the competition inherent to group exhibitions. Instead of attempting to solve the problem, the exhibition is designed to exacerbate and examine it. In part, the exhibition questions Fraser’s critique of competition as inherently reductive, posing competition as a productive state of engagement.

More directly, several artists will explicitly address the Olympics via its symbolism, its expressed ideals and its effects on Vancouver and its citizens. Holly Ward’s works read the Olympics as an act of appropriation of the city, which is facing budget cuts in human services and culture alike. Outside the building, Dexter Sinister will cover the windows in a new wallpaper design of linking rings. The pattern represents bronze, a colour created by mixing the five colors of the Olympic rings. Hadley+Maxwell will replicate the base of a Zane, a figure of Zeus erected by penitent athletes caught cheating in the ancient Olympics. And Fia Backström will organize a public conversation between a game theorist and a hockey strategist during the Olympic Hockey finals.

Jordan Wolfson ignores the exhibition's call for competition by presenting his new video Con Leche in a formal screening environment, separated from the rest of the show. Lucy Clout’s piece, Untitled (eyebrow) is a large plank of MDF, painted black and suspended in front of the reception desk. To be able to speak face to face to the person staffing the desk, one must duck under the plank and squeeze between that plank and the desk, moving from separation to closeness. Local artist and curator Jonathan Middleton will donate part of the artist fee due to him as a permanent budget line-item earmarked for drinks to be bought should the Contemporary Art Gallery cease operations. Holly Ward will build a winners podium out of Pepsi cans. Further interventions are slated with other artists to continue throughout the run of the exhibition. Participating artists will engage the exhibition through publications, discussions, and other public programs, alongside their primary artistic contributions. The specifics of any of these projects may also be altered through group negotiation as the project evolves.

Guest Curated by Eric Fredericksen