Best days for this self-guided tour are: Tuesdays–Saturdays
My “Day at Capture” would start the same way as any other: a wakeup call at 5:30 AM from my cat, Archie, (im)patiently waiting for me to feed him.
After feeding Archie, and myself (sourdough toast ℅ Nelson the Seagull, coffee ℅ Milano), I would flip through the latest Capture Photography Festival catalogue to plan my day.
Capture is one of my favourite times of the year. Not only is it spring in Vancouver, but I have a longstanding passion for lens-based art. In particular, artists who work on the periphery of photography.
My first stop of the day would be to see the latest curatorial project by Patrik Andersson at Trapp Projects titled Street Scanners. I am drawn to artists who deconstruct the photographic process, which is what I believe Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes is doing with her two sculptural works in the show, which had last been shown at Artspeak in 2018. Combining her own photographs with found images, and manipulating them in the form of a digital collage, makes me think about the volume of images that we consume on a daily basis, and the authorship of this content that is circulated en masse. Marisa framed these compositions into custom-made, free-standing structures, akin to street signage or commercial advertising, further challenging the way in which we typically see art (Which side is the front? Is there even a front? Where does the piece begin?).
I would then take a short stroll around the corner to the Burrard Arts Foundation to see a brilliant series of photographs by Sara Gulamali, which are the culmination of her residency. Sara has developed a practice of covering herself in a chroma key green fabric, the same colour green used in film to “key” out, or replace, the background of a scene in post-production, for example. Sara documents this act as a deeply layered metaphor about the culture shock and identity crisis she felt relocating to Vancouver. I think it’s a really intelligent body of work, one that is both aesthetically striking and conceptually powerful.
An artist who I have more recently discovered and have already developed a deep admiration for is Michelle Bui, whose larger-than-life photographs cover the facade of the Contemporary Art Gallery and the Canada Line station in Yaletown. The scale of these window coverings are not too dissimilar to the scale of her actual works (I would know, I have two framed in my bedroom!). I don’t necessarily think of Michelle’s practice purely as still-life photography, I think of these works as documentation of ephemeral assemblages. There is a sense of urgency with these sculptural arrangements; she must act quickly to preserve this moment as two objects are precariously suspended into place. Michelle often combines natural and unnatural objects, which makes me think that she is pointing to both the fragility and resiliency of nature. So in that sense, what we see in these photographs is not the full extent of the artwork.
After grabbing another coffee from Prototype, I would stop by one of the newer, exciting gallery spaces in town, Afternoon Projects. Benny Xu, the gallery’s founder, has a keen eye for emerging talent, and has curated some really dynamic solo and group exhibitions in a modestly sized gallery space. For Capture, Afternoon Projects is featuring a series of photographs and sculptural works by Nabil Azab. To me, the two larger photographs in particular sit somewhere between an abstract painting and photography. Nabil intentionally defocuses the subject matter, eliminating any context or notion of figuration. Though these compositions are soft, there’s an eeriness to these works when paired alongside the wall treatments and sculptural works throughout the gallery space.
The last stop of the day before heading home is to see a series of photo collages by Scott Treleaven, as a part of a three-person show at Unit 17. Scott’s works are made up of torn photographs from the artist’s archive of analog 35mm pictures taken over two decades. Though it’s a simple gesture, there is something very poetic about both the act of tearing these photographs, and the final result. Scott is yet another artist whose approach to photography involves a de-construction of the medium, a common theme in my ever-evolving interest in post-conceptual photography.
Andrew Booth curates the Vancouver Art Blog, which is an Instagram account focused on promoting and celebrating Vancouver’s contemporary art scene.