On December 12, the Vancouver Art Gallery
opens its new exhibition, Where do we go from here?, which proposes to think critically about the role of both art and institutionssuch as galleries and museumsin the process of producing narratives about the past, present and future.
Acting on the Vancouver Art Gallerys statement in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, Where do we go from here? developed as an opportunity to consider the Gallerys own collecting and exhibition history. Reflecting on the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Gallery in 1931, this exhibition both acknowledges the under representation of African diasporic artists in our collection and exhibitions, which has historically privileged European art traditions, and reimagines how the next 90 years of programing can better represent Canada's art landscape.
An open, collaborative endeavour by six members of the Gallerys Curatorial department with Guest Curator Nya Lewis of BlackArt Gastown, this exhibition presents neither a singular vision nor a linear narrative. The works were selected by curators with varying interests and experiences, and the resulting exhibition is an opportunity to reflect on the future and the Gallerys place within it.
Featuring recent acquisitions from the Gallerys permanent collection, as well as select loans from local artists, Where do we go from here? presents work produced in the last five years from Jessie Addo, Rebecca Bair, Lauren Brevner and James NexwKalus Xwalacktun Harry, Vanessa Brown, Gabi Dao, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Chantal Gibson, Maureen Gruben, Gabrielle LHirondelle Hill, Ocean Hyland, Nanyamka (Nya) Lewis, Cindy Mochizuki, Audie Murray, Gailan Ngan, Tafui, Charlene Vickers, Jan Wade, Tania Willard, Hyung-Min Yoon and Elizabeth Zvonar. The works are varied in terms of media and subject matter, yet collectively offer contemplations on the past, present and futureacross time, bodies of land and space. Some artists engage directly with the legacies of the Canadian modernist enterprise, while others attempt to destabilize inherited beliefs and accepted historical narratives. Most are presenting work at the Vancouver Art Gallery for the first time.
This exhibition is very timely and inspired by our current moment, explains Anthony Kiendl, CEO and Director, Vancouver Art Gallery, while simultaneously looking at the past, the curatorial premise implies what has been overlooked. While looking to the future, it suggests what is possible. We are therefore presented with a unique opportunity to further conversations on the future of Vancouver Art Galleryand art museums in general. This program provides a rich reference for building an art museum that is increasingly relevant to our communities, ultimately breaking down barriers to accessibility.
Throughout the duration of this exhibition, additional content on the mobile guide and online public programs will develop as a forum for dialogue. The cumulative outcome of these activities will be to address both the Gallerys history of limited engagement with BIPOC artists in the community and the institutional plans for addressing those challenges.