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Contemporary Art Gallery

555 Nelson Street
Vancouver, Canada
Closed for installation
until June 7, 2024

Admission always free
7 Sep 90until6 Oct 90


Jamelie Hassan, Anne Ramsden, Nell Tenhaaf

555 Hamilton St

Two black and white prints pinned to a gallery wall. The prints show images of marble status with small printed text below. Beneath the image there is text that reads “POSSESSING ANTIQUITY.”

Anne Ramsden, The Elgin Marbles — In the British Museum (detail), 1987. Photographer unknown.

This exhibition draws together works by Nell Tenhaaf, Anne Ramsden and Jamelie Hassan. The curatorial focus of the exhibition is on feminist reinterpretation of discourses of legitimation.

The work by Anne Ramsden interrogates discourse of the museum. In a series of works beginning with The Elgin Marbles — In the British Museum (1987), Ramsden’s photographic diptychs utilize an image of architecture or display together with a reorienting image. These are combined with the textual element to assert a new set of implications for their interrelation.

In Vitrine 448 (1986-88) by Jamelie Hassan, the museum is also a source for photographic images, but in this work, it is the discourse of cultural anthropology which is brought into question: the fetish, the exotic, the Other. In this work, text by Claude Levi-Strauss, and a more personal narrative by Hassan, accompanies photographs taken by Hassan in the Musée de l'Homme in Paris. These are photographic displays of tribal women and of ritual adornment. This element is presented as a wall piece, but the images are repeated again in a more direct and intimate setting, in which the photographs, placed in a box on a small table with accompanying chair, can be individually held in a more subjective relation. To this is added a further sculptural element, an architectural “found object” with circle motifs echoing icons of native and tribal culture.

The works by Ramsden and Hassan address themselves to the modes by which meaning and value are produced through particular technologies of display and representation, and are further inscribed through language. The work-in-progress by Nell Tenhaaf extends the interrogation of the inscription of language on the human psyche into the territories of technology and science. The piece is mounted in a set of light boxes. The imagery consists of video footage of cell division overlayed with a model of DNA in progressive stages of duplication. Printed onto the DNA strands are brief quotations, fundamentally incompatible, from Luce Irigaray and Friedrich Nietzsche. The superimposition of philosophy onto the model of DNA, the basic biological coding scheme, embodies the Saussurean proposition of a cultural language into which the subject is pre-inscribed, but interrogates the nature of scientific, technological and philosophical language as gendered production.

In contradistinction from certain forms of deconstructionist work, the work by Ramsden, Hassan and Tenhaaf is not didactic in style but rather opens up a ground for reflection. The new meanings and interpretations of their work advances function through association and implication, preferred through their own strategies of re-presentation and re-contextualization.

Guest curated by Renee Baert Circulated by Powerhouse Gallery, Montreal