Thursday, January 11, 2007

New 3-channel video by Owen Kydd, curated by CJB, with a short accompanying essay. Opening tomorrow night from 6-9pm. Brave the windchill and come!

Grace under pressure. CSA Space co-owner Steven Tong retrieves gallery keys inadvertently locked inside the gallery with a wire coathanger and steady hands.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Self Portrait as a Hydraulic System Under Pressure, 2007

Under the "G," second from the right...
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Uncle Zip's Window

Literary role model, fellow SF writer and climber M. John ("Mike") Harrison's new blog, where tonight I located the following sentence, an out-take from his novel Climbers, and straightforwardly, profoundly true:

"Climbing is not a sport. It is a language by which people try to make known their social & emotional isolation."

(thx. J.!)

Monday, January 08, 2007

To Change The Way Things Are

So if you're out there waiting
I hope you show up soon
'cause my head needs relatin
Not solitude...


E.J. Hughes, Comox Valley, 1953. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

One of my favorite landscape paintings. Hughes (who died, aged 95, on January 5th) and I never met, and probably wouldn't have had that much to say to one another if we ever had. One of the strangest experiences in my life was showing up at a VAG awards evening to deliver a short introduction to Steven Shearer's work. Hughes was also receiving an award that evening, and had chosen, as usual, not to travel, but had sent along videotaped remarks, which were played as a grainy, ever-so-slightly-out-of-focus projection. It was as if a ghost was speaking, slowly and haltingly, to the crowd, as if some disturbance of atmospheric or psychic physics had tuned the video projector into the Group of Seven channel. With his crepe-paper skin and neat white moustache, EJH appeared spectral, almost backlit, a "visitation" akin to the weird voice-from-the-ether that narrates John Shirley's great proto-cyberpunk novel, City Come A-Walkin'.

Hughes had no time for abstraction, conceptual art, land art, performance art, etc. etc. etc. Thus he remains, for me, a weird anarchronism, a figure permanently stuck in the late 1930s and early 1940s, while the world went on around him.

That said, Hughes' paintings and drawings exert a powerful hold on my imagination. They depict West Coast landscapes in a neutral, controlled, and pseudo-"photographic" way that is as democratic in its attentiveness -- to light; to surfaces; to the margins where wilderness and social communities meet -- as Brueghel's work, or Walker Evans', or Stephen Shore's. Ten or twelve years ago, at a very difficult point in my life when I was just becoming interested in art, I visited the VAG every "free Thursday," and always found myself pausing before Comox Valley. There is a kind of space in that picture that is hard to describe, other than to say that it is equally physical and psychic, something I might call -- if pressed -- freedom.

"He went to his office door. She was going away from him, down the deserted hall. He managed to hail her from his berg of grief."
Sunday, January 07, 2007

Team Cat on location in the snow, Lost Lake, Hollyburn Ridge, late December. Nb. poles, comfy fluorescent orange double-lined fireman's pants, stuffed cat (not visible) in Canadian-made purple pack's top pocket. A really weird bulge around my waist; not sure why I seem to have suddenly gained 50+ pounds. Photo by honorary team member Keith Nichol.

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