Past Exhibitions

Portraits in Time

June 29 to October 14, 2013


Althea Thauberger
not afraid to die, 2001 (still)
single-channel video projection
Collection of Vancouver Art Gallery, Purchased with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program and the Vancouver Art Gallery Acquisition Fund


Rodney Graham
Halcion Sleep, 1994 (detail)
textile and single-channel video
Collection of Vancouver Art Gallery, Acquisition Fund

Film, video and digital media have allowed artists to explore ideas of portraiture in ways not possible in still photography or painting. A subject can be observed over an extended period or only for a short while.

The works included in Portraits in Time, drawn from the permanent collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, present people in a variety of narrative contexts to provide an amplified version of portraiture. In these works one sees how individuals relate to their environment (sometimes self-created), the larger context of a life story and their perceptions of self and technology.

Included is Rodney Graham's Halcion Sleep (1994), which presents a rather unflattering view of the artist as he makes a voyage, both literal and figurative, under the influence of the drug, with unsettling yet funny results. Althea Thauberger's not afraid to die (2001) presents a startling contrast between the images of several vibrant young women and a remarkably chilling monologue about suicide and death. Roy Arden's Citizen (2000) is a study of a homeless individual navigating his way within a society that is not terribly sympathetic to his plight. Fiona Tan's complex narrative, Rise and Fall (2009), depicts a single woman at different points in her life, using two entirely different actors to play the woman. These works present an enormous variety of portraiture, from the amusing to the banal, all of which allude to the complex narratives of life.

Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Ian Thom, senior curator-historical.

Visionary Partner: Offsite and Permanent Collection Exhibitions
Michael O'Brian Family Foundation