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Contemporary Art Gallery

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

Admission always free
26 Oct 96until7 Dec 96

Vivan Sundaram


555 Hamilton St

This is a side view of a boat head sculpture. White panels that seem to be made of parchments or pulp sheets cover the body of the boat. The boat is placed on the wooden bars placed on the floor.

"Originally from New Delhi and trained as a painter, Vivan Sundaram studied at M.S. University in Baroda and at the Slade School in London… The "historic awareness" manifested in Sundaram's work has translated itself in a series of installations but also in drawings, paintings, sculptures, and fabricated objects that participate in the sedimentation of memory and its representation."

"Placed diagonally from the entrance, the house offers itself as a structure made out of steel, glass and paper – the latter richly textured and crinkled…Graphic marks evoke the assault of modernity and progress through chromatic plays with rust (grid) and black, whereas the white of the paper; both matter and support, absorbs unfamiliar traces dripping down the house's glass roof. To the corroded treatment of the industrial ele­ments, Sundaram opposes the sensual and sensorial plasticity of the hand-made volume, the house becoming a box – a figure as light as air recalling children's folding games with paper."

"With its prow end raised by logs of wood and its stern floor covered with rusted tiles that also constitute its bottom, the boat seems to emerge from the ground or in the wake of its own displacement. It is a wrecked ship, crashed into, one of its flanks left open by an invisible battle. At the rudder-end, as from an imaginary observation post, a telescope is directed towards two video monitors showing a woman – one focusing on the back of her head, the other on her face – adorned and made up, expressing various feelings in traditional, theatrical movements."

"The artist is acting against historical amnesia, inscribing the place and context of his encounters and questionings, thus prompting himself and the viewer to take a stand and become aware."

Excerpted from “House / Boat: Sculptures in Steel, Glass and Video” (cat.), OBORO, Montreal, 1994, pp. 19-26.

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