Art in motion

How far do you travel? bus displaying Diyan Achjadi, NonSerie (In Commute), 2017/2018.

“In the Greek language, the word for transit is metaphora; so to go to work or come home, one literally rides a metaphor.” says Kimberly Phillips.

This year, Phillips, curator of the Contemporary Art Gallery (CAG), is continuing this link between metaphor and travel. She has curated a travelling art exhibit, with the support of TransLink, titled How far do you travel?featuring five Canadian artists.

The project will last from January to December 2019 and has an official launch date of January 17 at the gallery in downtown Vancouver. It is an offsite exhibition on the exteriors of various articulating B-line buses in and around Metro Vancouver. Throughout the year, events will also take place on the buses as they tour through the city.

Themes of movement

Erdem Taşdelen, Essentials of Psychological Testing (detail),2018.| Photo courtesy of Erdem Taşdelen.

“The project offers a lyrical opportunity to explore connections between images, meaning and movement,” says Phillips.

Each of these moving creations asks viewers to revisit their understandings about distance across time and space.

Once the CAG was contacted about the proposal, Phillips immediately thought of five artists whose works related to the themes of transport. Those artists, Diyan Achjadi, Rolande Souliere, Patrick Cruz, Anna Torma, and Erdem Taşdelen, all address themes of movement through space or time with their works, focusing on geographical, temporal, political, personal or intergenerational distances.

The artworks are not only commuting throughout the city; they are communicating ideas. The graphics of Cruz, a Filipino-Canadian artist, are a variation of his installation Step Mother Tongue (2017/2019) that focuses on the distance between languages. Torma draws from her childhood memories in Hungary through a collage of abstracted embroidered images, looking at the geographical distances. Taşdelen’s cryptic diagrams drawn from psychology textbooks point to the distance between subjective experiences and scientific quantifications.

A fourth artist, Achjadi, references a previous exhibited piece, NonSerie based on 17th and 18th century Dutch depictions of Indonesia. Achjadi, born in Jakarta, Indonesia, reflects on how this imagery can be translated from there to here.

“I was thinking about how images and pictorial representations can reflect histories of migrations and movement, and through them one can see places of inter-connection.” she says.

Indigenous perspectives

As the roving project continues through spring 2019, it will coincide with a large solo exhibit opening at the CAG in April by the fifth artist, Souliere, an Anishinaabe artist and member of the Michipicoten First Nation.

Her exhibition will display public art installations simultaneously across the exterior façade of the CAG and at the Yaletown/Roundhouse train station.

Souliere chose her graphics based on her ongoing body of work Frequent Stopping. Her works meld abstracted transportation signage with those of Indigenous symbolism. Utilizing the traditional four colours of the earth, the visuals connect the symbolism to certain boundary shifts relating to current socio-political events.

Public engagement

The interior of the buses will display quotes, titles and other information related to the art pieces and serve as a means for public engagement. On the bus, riders can find a hashtag and other ways to connect on social media to give feedback, write in or contribute to the project.

“This project offers the greater public – particularly repeat transit riders – an opportunity to connect with contemporary art. The more often the images are encountered, the more potential builds to rethink and reformulate our relationship to the works.” says Phillips.

Overall, states Phillips, the project is a vehicle to connect people to public art.

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