Kristi Malakoff. Target, 2005/8. Crepe paper party streamers. Photo courtesy of the artist.
“Contemporary art from here. Now” is the exhibition’s byline which plainly summarizes its intent: to make a location specific presentation of new contemporary art. The exhibition’s title “How Soon Is Now” evokes one characteristic of the work in the exhibition: an immediacy in form and address that speaks to the present moment.
According to the press release this show, which opens tomorrow, looks outside the doors of the gallery in order to bring together “some of the most compelling artists working in the region” and “comprise a survey of new work currently being produced by artists in the province of British Columbia”. Apparently the product of a staggering 120 studio visits, the show, curated by the gallery’s assistant curator Kathleen Ritter, features a comprehensive survey of emerging and mid-career artists and provides insight into some of the strategies, methodologies and interests that inform contemporary art from British Columbia.
On the eve of the exhibition, in an attempt to crystallize the opportunity provided to familiarize ourselves with cultural production in British Columbia we interviewed one of the participating artists in the show, Noah Becker, who apart from being a visual artist and an accomplished saxophone player is also the editor in chief of Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art.
Noah, is there a British Columbian aesthetic?
To apply conceptual processes to oil painting or drawing creates problematic situations with unique solutions. The artists from here have a really great amount of technology in place. When I say technology, it refers to ways of thinking about things or ways of utilizing strategic approaches to art historical concerns or conceptual puzzles. Specifically artists such as Jeff Wall, Stan Douglas, Rodney Graham, Alex Morrison, Geoffery Farmer, Brian Jungen, Michael Morris, Vincent Trasov, Peter Doig, Tim Gardner, Glenn Howarth, Atilla Richard Lukacs, Trevor Guthrie, Luanne Martineau, Lincoln Clarkes, Lucy Pullen just to name a few in this category of tech wizards. There are many important artists in this area who have made huge international careers. They also influence culture, so yes I am influenced by my surroundings or people or artists or any stimuli present within the community. My work is influenced by the history of Vancouver conceptual practice, but also painterly concerns from this place. Like one would think about a base of thought that builds upon it’s generations as a way to invent modes of thinking that arm the young artist with the science needed to be totally on it. That’s a vague metaphor but it does apply when you are growing up in a Canadian Art scene that offers limitations, limitations that we seem to be overcoming through technology. Artists from Vancouver have informed my work on many levels, even artists who have been here for residencies or other happenings. Lots of incredible things have happened in Vancouver, it’s one of the world’s top art cities.
Noah Becker, Realms Series, (Hunting Scene), 2007. Pencil on paper. 8.5 x 11 inches.
What is the importance of this exhibition for contemporary art in British Columbia?
From my perspective it’s going to be a cross section of what’s happening now. The concept is exciting, so I can’t wait to see how everything comes together. This question would be better answered by the exhibition curator Kathleen Ritter but I’m sure she is right in the middle of installing the work. It’s a survey of B.C. artists with some surprises I’m sure. The show is up for 4 months, so *its high profile. The Vancouver Art Gallery is 41,000 square feet of showing space, so I expect it will be great. They have glamorous openings there at the VAG. The recent opening I attended there was Kai Althoff curated by Jeff Wall. Jeff and Kai attended the opening and Peter Doig was there. The after party was amazing. The VAG has a great history so it’s important for the artists and important for the community to be exposed to their contemporary artists in that manner.
Noah Becker, Untitled, Realms Series (Oktoberfest), 2007. Oil on canvas. 48 x 48 inches.
What work do you have in the exhibition?
My work for How Soon is Now at the Vancouver Art Gallery is a series of ongoing works entitled “Realms” (see http://www.noahbeckerart.blogspot.com for examples). They depict structures or landscapes suspended in atmospheres or empty space. These landscapes are populated in various ways for various reasons.
In what respect does your work fit with the exhibitions intent?
At this point I’m aware of the museum putting together artists with shared connections. It will not be clear how this manifests itself until opening night. I’m going there to install my part of it with the curator, so we’ll see? It’s a very exciting part of this process, especially sending out real invite cards. Just emailing people is no longer an effective way to communicate. Soon the carrier pigeon will make a comeback, expect candlelight to replace electric light etc. There is a book called “The Science Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe” things will be like that soon. To answer your question, yes there are aspects
of my work that relate but it’s a general thing at this point. We are 30 artists from this province so there could be some really great parallels there [.]
This exhibition is presented with Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad. For more information please visit: http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/index.html