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Contemporary Art Gallery

555 Nelson Street

Vancouver, Canada
Closed for installation
of our summer exhibitions

Reopening June 2, 2022
ArchiveExhibition
3 Feb 12until15 Apr 12

Frances Stark

My Best Thing

Alvin Balkind Gallery

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents My Best Thing (2011), Frances Stark’s first feature-length animation. Initially presented in ILLUMInations at the 54th Venice Biennale, this recent work has rapidly gained critical attention. Using transcripts of an online relationship between Stark and two random strangers, the video unfolds to build an intimate portrait of the artist and her creative process. It continues Stark’s ongoing concerns with expectation and gender infused with notions of doubt, anxiety and musings on the general state of things. While arguably best known for her works on paper, where such issues are seen through the lens of writing, drawing and collage, her videos and performance pieces likewise comprise a forceful component in her overall artistic proposition.

In My Best Thing two naked online avatars are pictured, a man and a woman, Playmobil-like figures wearing discrete fig leaves for modesty. The video traces the development of their relationship beginning as a series of discussions revolving around standard chat-room flirtatiousness. These encounters then give way to talk about film, art and subjectivity, touching on ideas surrounding history, politics and the very act of art-making itself. As the work progresses between two people initially unfamiliar to each other, the sexually oriented chat evolves into talk of them becoming potential collaborators. However, at this point of heightened familiarity their relationship comes to an abrupt halt and conversation with a second person ensues. The artist’s exchange with each of her online counterparts is poignant and often comic, enhanced by the animation itself where Stark used Xtranormal, freely available 3D movie-making software, to render herself and her opposite number as cartoons, speaking in computer-generated accents transferred from actual dialogue.

This is a compelling work that humorously and touchingly reflects on our changing world; a place where relationships mediated by technology challenge the usual understanding of how we interact with each other and allows new forms of behaviour to emerge. Stark continues to remind us of the complexity inherent in everyday encounters. Ideas of performance and role-playing, the anonymity versus intimacy implicit within the artist’s animation, are examined and brought into the wider philosophical discourse of subjectivity where strangers can so easily transform into confidantes.

Biography

Frances Stark was born in 1967, Newport Beach, California. She studied at San Francisco State University, San Francisco and Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California. She now lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2010); Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow (2010); Nottingham Contemporary (2009); Portikus, Frankfurt/Main (2005); Wiener Secession, Vienna ( 2008); FRAC—Bourgogne, Dijon (2007); Artspace, San Antonio (2006). Recent group exhibitions include Aspen Art Museum (2010); Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (2010); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2009); Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg (2009); Kunsthalle Basel (2008); and the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum, New York (2008). My Best Thing was presented at the 54th Venice Biennale and has subsequently been screened at Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff; The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles.