Life in an empty place

Photo by Diane Borsato

The Moon is Often Referred to as a Dead, Barren World, but I Think This is Not Necessarily the Case, a collaboration between international conceptual artist Diane Borsato and the local Ikebana flower arrangement community will use live plant material in a white, empty gallery space to portray the contrast and the beauty of life within the barren.

I imagine the contemporary art gallery like a moon in a sense. It’s sterile, white, devoid of life,” says Borsato.

Supported by The Vancouver Foundation, the one-night installation will be held at the Contemporary Art Gallery on Mar. 25 from 6–9 p.m.

Life on the moon

Stemming from research done during a visit to Vancouver in summer 2016 as part of CAG`s Burrard Marina Field House Studio Residency Program, the installation will come to life with the collaboration of Ikebana masters from the Sogetsu school.

Borsato’s inspiration, along with the title of her installation, comes from Sofu Teshigahara’s Kedensho: Book of Flowers. The Ikebana artist (1900–1979) broke away from traditional Ikebana practice in 1927 and founded the Sogetsu school that expresses originality. In his book, he is optimistic that no place is actually barren.

Diagrams kakei. | Photo by Diane Borsato

Similarly Borsato visualizes the proposal and imagines the art gallery like the barren moon.

“We have lots of clean white space, hard edged modern furnishings, gallery detritus and tools, and we are tasked with making something with what is at hand,” says Borsato.

Despite being used to working with new collaborators, Borsato’s work does come with its share of challenges.

“It’s a somewhat risky exhibition to mount which is inevitable when you want to use live materials,” she says.

Live materials inside an art space give the artists limited control over the seasonal materials they’ll be bringing in, but it does make tangible Borsato’s idea that the moon might not be as dead and barren as it seems. Instead it will present new interpretations of other worlds and spaces.

“I hope working this way with Ikebana artists will help me and others to have new perspectives in the contemporary art space and the tools of conceptual artists,” says Borsato. “[The installation offers] some new insights into the possibilities within the traditional, technical craft practices of my collaborators.”

Jack of all arts

Toronto-based Borsato is an artist in every sense of the word. Her crafts vary from dance, lived movements and experimental design. She has an international reputation for collaborating with amateur organizations such as beekeepers, quilters, and dancers, just to name a few. Collaboration allows Borsato to use an organization’s expertise in their particular field as a medium to portray her vision.

The artist also uses various mediums to accomplish her goals. Instead of forcing an idea into one mold like painting, sculpting, or writing, she decides what works best with the idea she wants to convey and the organizations she collaborates with.

“I’m intensely curious and ravenous. I want to learn and make and see and play with everything,” Borsato says.

Some of her past works include hundreds of beekeepers involved in a simultaneous meditation, a quilting society creating a quilt inspired by the effects of a cataract surgery, and dancers secretly placed in an art gallery who were made to fall throughout the evening. All ideas and organizations are drastically different from one another but all have the creative charm of Borsato behind them.

“I’m thrilled to get to work with others who know more, who can make things,” Borsato explains. “Working together to realize ideas and making things much greater than I could alone, and that might reconcile distinctive discourses and find new and greater insights than [Borsato and the organizations] can find working alone and from within our own field.”

For more information, please visit