In the weeks leading up to their summer residency in Vancouver, the eight artists whose works comprise this interim exhibition elected to read W.G. Sebald’s enigmatic text The Rings of Saturn. Equal parts lyrical and brutal, the book charts a strange, elliptical course between disparate events, times and spaces, weaving a web of complicity, connectivity and loss that could be said to de ne our contemporary condition.
For this cohort, who will graduate from Emily Carr University of Art + Design’s Low Residency MAA Program in 2015, Sebald’s evocation of Saturn’s rings—the particulate matter describing circular orbits around a celestial body of tremendous gravitational force—offered both a metaphor for their experience of graduate study and a lens through which to apprehend their distinct practices. These artists are drawn together from diverse backgrounds and life experience to explore and develop work within a collectively shared space and time. With media ranging from laser cut paper and wooden dowels to corrugated cardboard and hot glue, from oil on canvas and video to foam latex and gathered ora, they have strikingly di erent working methods and modes of visual communication.
What they share, however, is a concern for and acknowledgement of distance. These works consider the space between art objects, their makers and the embodied audiences who encounter them; they give form to longing, to time, and to the space of assembly itself. They acknowledge the gravitational pull of cultural histories, intellectual traditions and institutional paradigms— constellations both remote and proximate—in relation to and against whose persistent presence we work to de ne ourselves.
Trevor Van den Eijnden
Trevor Van den Eijnden’s current work investigates referents of the Anthropocene, our current global geological era born of the Industrial Revolution. These visual inquiries focus on the constructs of space versus place, where the former is a one-dimensional physical location and the latter is the overlapping subjective terrain. Current work has centred on collecting and comparing naturalist wallpapers for their romanticized illusions of nature, as well as grappling with the e ects of global climate change in the extremes of plausible dystopic and utopic futures.
A historically rooted and popular format for interior décor, wallpaper presents a physical form to the conceptual process of burying nature behind mythologized façades of itself as they directly reference prevailing romanticized ideas of nature as subject. This way of thinking limits our engagement with nature and our understanding of it within our current epistemic conditions. As René Magritte remarked, “there’s something else of an unfamiliar nature that appears at the same time as familiar things,” and here is a strangeness familiar to us all, which presents and acts more than as just décor: it points to its own strange strangeness. The resultant futility of these replicas of nature—and the failure of their referents to hold truth—is pertinent to their reading. Such as the romanticized notions they reference, they are shams at rst sight.
Trevor Van den Eijnden is a visual artist, writer and designer who lives and teaches in Vancouver, British Columbia. Originally from Nova Scotia, he received his BFA in 2005 from NSCAD University. Raised near a coast frequented by hurricanes and sharp shifts in the weather, he developed early a desire for understanding how we understand nature. His childhood home was surrounded by rivers and marshland that had been studiously crafted by beavers. In emulation of these structures, his rst artwork was a series of earthen dams built in autumn, that in spring caused a sizable ice dam that ooded a dozen acres of land, and his neighbour’s basement. He was fourteen.