From January 11th 1997 to February 15th 1997 Couché
The following document is only available in French :
«Couché» regroupe plusieurs œuvres textiles sculpturales, incorporant des éléments sonores, qui abordent la réification et le deuil de l’identité sexuelle, qui sont caractéristiques de notre époque. Ces pièces pointent les manières dont l’identité sexuelle a déjà été monumentalisée et sa perte, présagée. La théoricienne Judith Butler avance que la formation même de l’identité sexuelle, alors que nous faisons l’expérience de la perte de cet «autre» que nous ne deviendrons jamais, évoque la mélancolie. Le «vide» de ces vêtements (si on peut les appeler ainsi) suggère comment, dans notre culture, les objets, les styles et les manières contribuent à la valeur des identités humaines et les usurpent. La «jupe» peut se substituer à d’autres commodités-valeurs qui habitent et structurent l’univers tel que nous en faisons l’expérience. La forme de la jupe est emblématique et pénétrante; ce qui m’intéresse précisément, c’est la façon dont sa silhouette détermine et nie à la fois toute signification.
- Internal document(Optica)
Annie Martin a vécu en Colombie Britannique avant de déménager à Montréal en 1984 pour poursuivre ses intérêts en art. En 1994, elle termine une maîtrise en peinture à l’Université Concordia. Au cours des dernières années, elle a participé à plusieurs expositions et projets à Montréal et ailleurs, entre autres «Résider», un projet à La Centrale, et «Entr’espace», au Centre Saidye Bronfman, tous deux à Montréal en 1995, «A Dress, States of Being», à la Winnipeg Art Gallery en 1995, et «figure», une exposition individuelle a Articule à Montréal en 1994. En 1997, son travail sera montré à la SAW Gallery à Ottawa et à A.K.A. à Saskatoon. Elle fait partie du comité de sélection de la galerie Articule, et ses textes ont été publiés dans Parachute ainsi que dans divers catalogues.
Maria Anna Potocka
From February 22nd 1997 to March 29th 1997 On the Way Between
My visual works "move around" between the text and the schematic representation of the fuman figure. I admit that of these two things, I have less trouble with words than with the image. The pleace between words and the image, neer fully explores, resistes accessibility through classical notions or descriptions. It seems to me that approaching that place increases the truth of my visio. This could be merely another cognitive delusion. Iaslo seek that place thorugh artists and art, through intensive observation of others, and finally through my own writing.
The word seems to be something unambiguous, sharp in its defintion, saying one thing or the other about this or that. You either believe the word or not;there is little room for doubt. A picture, an image, is something we interpret. Interpretation depends on the starting point, it depends on the level of our intuition, on what we know about similar things. Images make us more modest than words. We create more cautious constructions and are aware of how easy it is to be wrong.
The idea to which interpretation leads will be more supposition than statement.
Our perception is led astray by too much faith in the clarity of words and impeded by too much caution towards the information carried by images.
This hesitation between words and image can be compared to the situation of how we treat ourselves and how we treat others. To ourselves, we are like words. It seems that everything is clear, that everything can be described and almost everything explained.
It’s different with images. Sometimes we make the effort to interpret, with the internal reservation that it has the right not to come out. Many people think this is too much trouble and live exclusively through "words".
-Press release (Optica)
Maria Anna Potocka was Born in Paczków, Poland, in 1950. Her studies include Polish phyliology and art history. Since 1972, when she opened her first gallery, she has directed several galleries of cntemporary art including Pawilon (1974), FV (1979) and the Potocka Gallery in Kraków Cracovie, opened in 1986 and still in operation. The artists’ works which she began collecting in 1984 will be housed in the Museum of Modern art in Niepołomice, anther personal project presently in its preliminary stages. She has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions "10 Artists from Poland", Goethe Institut, Amsterdam, et Molkerei Werkstadt, Köln (1980); Gallery AT, Poznań (1984); "IKG Exhibition", Museum Friedericianum, Kassel (1984); Gallery ON, Poznań (1987); "Portfolio", Peninsula Gallery, Eindhoven; Akumulatory 2 Gallery, Poznań (1990); Gallery BWA Sandomierz (1992); Ośrodek Działań, Wrocław; "Transit", Kassel (1993); Gallery Działań, Warszawa (1994). She is a member of International Kunstler Gremium and AICA, and since has been the director of the artists’ magazine Tumult.
From February 22nd 1997 to March 29th 1997 The Conversation (Me Eating You Eating Me)
Yau Ching, Laiwan, Ellen Pau, Xiu Young
From April 24th 1997 to May 31st 1997 Be(Longing)
Curator : Mary Sui Yee Wong
Author : Karlyn Y-Mae Koh (publication)
"(be) longing" is an exhibition which focuses on presenting the works of four female artists of Chinese descent who have diverse backgrounds and rich cultural/community practices : Yau Ching (Michigan), Laiwan (Vancouver), Ellen Pau (Hong Kong) and Xiu Li Young (Montréal). Mary Sui Yee Wong (Montreal) is the guest curator.
This exhibition is timely since 1997 marks the year when Hong Kong will be returned to China. As symbol of homeland and cultural identity, Hong Kong is threatened by prospects of becoming a communist state. Although each of the visiting artist has a different relationship to and understanding of this British colony, their cultural practice as well as their current locations, resonates a fragmentation which disrupts the notion of "home" as scared or secured place. Through their individual interrogations of personnal, social and political her/histories, the four artists have created works which are poetic, fearless and disparate. Ultimately, it is their shared sensibilities of material and form that brings them together in "(be) longing".
Along with the exhibition, a salon will be held in collaboration with TEA HOUSE, to provide an opportunity for the visiting artists to share and exchange ideas with local community, specifically the Asian arts community. The most significant objective of the exhibition and salon is to create an open forum which encourages a dialogue that extends beyond borders.
TEA HOUSE (part of the national network which includes LOTUS LAND I, Vancouver and LOTUS LAND II, Toronto) is an artist run, grass-roots, non-profit effort to share works and ideas featuring Chinese Canadian Visual artists, writers, video/filmmakers, and performers with others across the country. The ideas for salons to showcase Chinese Canadian artists works, came as a direct result of a Chinese Canadian Arts Symposium organized by the Chinese Canadian National Council in April 1995.
-Press release (Optica)
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Yau Ching is a writer, video/filmmake, educator. Recently, she published a book titled Building a New Stove, (Youth Literary Press, Hong Kong, 1996). After the Tien An Men Massacre, she moved to New York for graduate study at the New School for Social Research, and was also a studio participant at the Whitney Independent Study Program. Yau Ching has been working on issues concerning the possibilities and limitations of cultural translation; how documentary of the Other for a hegemonic white audience can be used as a political strategy to interrogate the historical structure of power relations. Currently, she teaches at University of Michigan.
Laiwan was born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1961 of Chinese (Toisan) origin, and emigrated with her family to Canada in 1977 to leave the war in Rhodesia. She is practicing interdisciplinary artist based in Vancouver. She has exhibited over the years in numerous solo and group shows including : "The Culture of Nature" at the Kamploops Art Gallery (1996); "Xi Hua Yuan: Chinese Garden" at the Seafirst Gallery, Seattle (1995) and "Yellow Peril : New World Asians (1988-98)/ Reconsidered (1991)" which toured in Canada and Europe. Active in various curatorial projects since 1983 whe she started OR Gallery, she is also a writer who has been published in various periodicals and is currently co-editor of Front Magazine.
Ellen Pau is Hong Kong’s premier video artist. Her video are shown in film festivals world-wide and installation works are exhibited in international events like the Kwangju Biennial, Copenhague Container 96 and the Asian Pacific Triennal in Australia. Working initially as a filmmaker, she moved to video as her preferred medium in 1987. Her works range from MTV for Cantopop singer, independent video to installation. She is founding member of the artist’s group , videotage, which is an active promoter of independent video and film arts in Hong Kong. Ellen curated a number of local Fringe Festival’s video programs and she will curate the coming video programs in Hong Kong International Film Festival.
Born in Georgetown, Bristish Guyana, Xiu Li Young is a Montreal based artist. Her work involves the use of photography, performance and installation to examine feminist based issues of identity, sexuality and popular culture. Her training includes Fine Arts Studio at Concordia University, Women studies at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, and East Asian Studies at McGill University. She is an active member of Studio XX, a women’s digital technologies intervention group in Montreal.
Born in Hong Kong, Mary Sui Yee Wong is a Montreal based artist and coordinator of TEA HOUSE. Wong’s work explores the construction of identity based on challenges to the fixing of relations between margins and centres. Since 1991, she has exhibited her work across Canada: most recently Helen Pitt Gallery, Vancouver and 101 Gallery, Ottawa. She has also worked extensively as a community consultant throughout her artistic practice. In 1993, she was invited by the Anthropology Museum in Vancouver to produce a video which accompanied the exhibition "A rare Flower – A Century of Cantonese Opera in Canada". In 1994, Wong curated "Un coup d’oeil sur l’Opéra de Pékin" for the Maison de la culture Frontenac and worked as Program Coordinator for "The Secrets of Chinese Opera" at the McCord Museum, Montreal.
April 27th 1997 Salon de thé avec Tea House
Bill Burns, Trevor Gould, Mark Vatnsdal
May 7th 1997 Lancement de la publication The Life of Animals Living in the Shadow of the Twentieth Century
The field guide is a collaborative book work between Montréal artists Bill Burns, Trevor Gould and Mark Vatnsdal. In three volumes, the book work presents a variety of themes exploring the role of guide books in representing animals. This current project continues a curatorial programme through which Optica is endevouring to find unconventional ways of allowing art to enter into life in the city. It proposes ways of re-classifying and re-imagining the site of the uniquely crafted artifact and the political economy of the relationship between the artist and the gallery.
How to Help Animals Escape from Degraded Habitats explores the rhetoric of environmental activism and such ecological rescue missions as the Biodome. The companion volume, Montréal Zoo reflects on the evolution and the history of the zoological garden. Its illustrations make apparent the utopian values embodied in zoo displays. The last addition to the set, Animal Handbook proposes that the care and nurturing of animals is a deeply emotional activity that can be easily and mistakenly conflated with the care and nurturing of people.
All three volumes constitute an intriguing contribution to the discussion surrounding our relationships and sentiments toward creatures and nature. A limited boxed edition will be available.
-Press release (Optica)
The Life of Animals Living in the Shadow of the Twentieth Century consists of a set of three artist books
Comment aider les animaux à s’échapper des habitats dégradés / How to Help Animals Escape from Degraded Habitats, Optica, Montréal, 1997.
Artist : Bill Burns
Montréal Zoo de Montréal. Guide illustré des habitats pour animaux de Montréal / Illustrated guide to animal habitats in Montréal, Optica, Montréal, 1997.
Artist : Trevor Gould
Manuel d’animal Handbook, Optica, Montréal, 1997.
Artist : Mark Vatnsdal