WALKING INTO ART
Walking Into Art: On Main Gallery’s Exhibition: “Thru The Trapdoor”
Written by: Brittany Bjorndal
Walking “Thru The Trapdoor” one will find themselves in the best trap they can ask for – a trap of mind blowing art that makes On Main Gallery in Vancouver legendary. Featuring over 50 artists, artistic director Paul Wong and producer Rick Erickson do a masterful job in their vision of an artistic rendering of underground space. On Main Gallery was expanded in 2012 by Rick Erickson, who put in a “secret trap door” leading to an underground storage area. This old warehouse storage space becomes a mini maze with rebellious, beautiful, and even haunting pieces of art. One article cannot speak to the artistic talents of over 50 artists work, which is why you will have to check it out for yourself. One of the best parts of the event is that it is free!
I’ll give you a peek into the trapdoor and touch upon some of the spell-bounding pieces. Keep in mind that the art space includes installations, projections, sculptures, performances, musical pieces, relational experiences, participation, interactive art, sounds, painting, sketches, and more. Part of the reason this art exhibition is so cool is because it is participatory. You see a wall with holes, you take a gander, and a new world appears before your eyes with suspended forks and silver platters.
One piece, entitled “PoSSeSSiONz,” was a playfully brilliant interactive piece created by “Loco Moto Art Collective:” Laura Lee Coles, David Leith, and Rob Scharein (curator: Wynne Palmer). An interactive video and sound installation piece, the layered visual projections come to life when you enter the room and hold up objects. Working almost as a motion detector sensor, you have to be present in the room for the projections to come to life. The projections are layers of video. Some of the images are of Barbie faces, some are images of cargo trains, and some are images of bookshelves, to name just a few. The images of the Barbies are intended to create “reverse voyeurism,” where the close-ups of the sultry eyes of the barbie put attention back onto the onlooker. The cargo trains speak to the unseen history behind accommodation, and the stacks of books denote the hoarding of knowledge, as I wave my arms in front of the projections. I had the pleasure to speak with the artists who explained their vision and I was captivated and intrigued. I especially appreciated the interaction, in that the piece only comes alive with you standing in front of it- directly speaking to your relation with the art. The up-close Barbie eyes gazing at you mixed with other images, such as shelves of books, create an eerie effect. The idea of hoarding knowledge presented in such a form left me excited and enthused by our contemporary artists. The psychological undertones of the art make one question the functionality and representation of intelligence in the Western world.
Another piece by David Campion (curator: Brian Howell) entitled, “Shot,” was “Duchamp-y” in style, as it uses “readymades.” The piece was created as Campion began collecting “bullet-riddled objects” from around his hometown that gun enthusiasts had used as shooting targets. The objects distorted by bullet shots create an epic sympathy for the everyday pieces: a guitar, a laptop, construction worker helmets – all pierced by gunshots and set up together aesthetically become hauntingly beautiful. The art installation depicts the possessions wounded by the bullets, literally translating this visual image as possessions that were aimed at. Interpreting this as a metaphor says that Western culture discovers itself through the objects we acquire, a symbol of the destructive nature of the consumer culture of the West.
For the literature lovers out there, “Dear Emily” by Katherine Coe (curator: Paul Wong) will leave you mesmerized. The piece is presented within a square room painted black. In the middle of the room is a wooden chair and suspended from the ceiling are pages upon pages of Emily Bronte’s novel, Wuthering Heights, all set up as to surround the absent Bronte herself in the chair. Taking this piece to another level is the background of sounds of a soft woman’s voice whispering and speaking the novel aloud, creating a ghastly effect. The write up for the piece is as follows: “ ‘Dear Emily’ is a physical deconstruction of the 19th century novel ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. Reconstructed in a small secret place, it is an homage to transcendent imagination and an individual expression of the transportation of one’s mind and spirit, albeit temporarily, to another time and place.” The room, the position of the wooden chair, the loose pages, take you right into the space and time of Bronte indeed. Coupled with the overlapping of a woman’s voice reading the novel aloud, the piece is shiver-inducing as Bronte’s spirit is captured in the deconstruction of her novel, so artistically rendered by Katherine Coe.
A final highlight was a piece by Evann Siebens (curator: Paul Wong) entitled “deConstruction,” but this time referring to Vancouver city itself. This piece is video installation and C-print photos and is presented within a black room with two walls illuminated by projections of bulldozers and other machines breaking and tearing down the walls, buildings, and bricks of a once-upon-a-time Vancouver. The write up for this piece begins: “Vancouver is crumbling.” And later: “the bulldozers hesitate and meander before digging in, creating a dance, a conversation between the static structure and the movement of change.” The projections of the ‘bulldozer dance’ are presented in slow motion so you can really see the mouth of the bulldozer open as it devours the bricks. The scene is juxtaposed with soft, melodic piano playing in the background creating a stirring piece about the history and transformation of our beautiful city.
And to think, these are only four out of fifty pieces, which are just as riveting as the ones mentioned. I could write about every one, as they are all moving and gravitating in unique ways, but together create one bad ass statement about contemporary art. The exhibition is a true rendering of groundbreaking art by talented artists from Vancouver and beyond and is excellently executed in all its trappery.
The art show is running until Saturday, April 26, and is ending with a bang. The Trapdoor Art party goes from 8 pm- 2 am, April 26, with performances that you may not want to miss going on all night. The party includes projection mapping along the exterior of the building, DJ’s, musicians, and visual artists. If you’d like to take your time to browse through the installations, the exhibition is from 12-8 pm. If you dig art, this will be an epic experience challenging your perceptions and the creation of art itself.