Where do we go from here? proposes that we think critically about the role of both art and exhibition making in the production of narratives about our past, present and future. It encourages us to reconsider our understanding of history (personal, local, national) and progress (artistic, cultural, social), while articulating perspectives that challenge colonial systems of knowledge and methods of representation.
Acting on the Vancouver Art Gallery’s statement in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, Where do we go from here? developed as an opportunity to consider the Gallery’s 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 have historically privileged European art traditions, and reimagines how the next 90 years of programming can better represent Canada’s art landscape.
The exhibition presents recent acquisitions from the Gallery’s permanent collection, as well as select loans from local artists, most produced in the last five years. The works are varied in terms of media and subject matter, yet collectively offer contemplations on the past, present and future—across time, bodies of land and space. Some of the artists engage directly with the legacies of the Canadian modernist enterprise, while others attempt to destabilize inherited beliefs and accepted historical narratives.
An open, collaborative endeavour by six members of the Gallery’s Curatorial department with Guest Curator Nya Lewis of BlackArt Gastown, the 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 Gallery’s place within it. Titling the exhibition with the question, “Where do we go from here?,” is intended to serve as an acknowledgement of its amorphous, open-ended nature, while envisioning a future program and collection that more accurately represents the communities that we serve.
Participating artists include Jessie Addo, Rebecca Bair, Lauren Brevner and James Nexw’Kalus-Xwalacktun Harry, Vanessa Brown, Gabi Dao, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Chantal Gibson, Maureen Gruben, Gabrielle L’Hirondelle 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. Many of the artists are presenting work at the Gallery for the first time.
Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Zoë Chan, Assistant Curator; Diana Freundl, Interim Chief Curator; Mandy Ginson, Assistant Curator; Tarah Hogue, Indigenous Advisor; Siobhan McCracken Nixon, Assistant Curator; and Stephanie Rebick, Associate Curator, with Guest Curator Nya Lewis of BlackArt Gastown