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Preview for the episode Vancouver from Season 8 of Art21 Art in the Twenty-First Century (2016), featuring artists Stan Douglas, Brian Jungen, Liz Magor, and Jeff Wall.More information
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Attentive to the accidental encounters that can inspire an image, Jeff Wall recreates flashes of inspiration obtained from sources as varied as personal recollections to something noticed on the street, to daydreams, and encounters with paintings or photographs. With an idea in mind, Wall goes to exacting lengths to produce the picture, which may include constructing a scene from scratch, factoring in the position of the sun over several weeks, and improvisational rehearsals with performers. Wall’s pictures include both fantastical scenes and vernacular images of people on the margins of society or in moments of exchange and quiet contemplation.
Stan Douglas reenacts historical moments of tension, connecting local histories to broader social movements of struggle and utopian aspiration. In the artist’s intricate works, time and place fold back onto themselves to create a parallax of both vision and narrative: multiple moments in history and geography are experienced by the viewer simultaneously and reconciled into a new story. Working at the forefront of new media technologies, Douglas’s works have taken the form of mobile apps, virtual reality simulations, live cinema, theatrical productions, and multi-channel video installations where the narrative alters continuously through recombinant editing software.
Brian Jungen draws from his family’s ranching and hunting background, as well as his Dane-zaa heritage, when disassembling and recombining consumer goods into whimsical sculptures. Jungen transforms plastic chairs into whale skeletons, garbage bins into a giant turtle carapace, and collectible Nike Air Jordan shoes into objects resembling both the ceremonial masks of British Columbian coastal tribes and abstract modernist sculptures. At once direct and disarming, Jungen’s sculptures are entirely familiar in their material and assembly and yet still trick the eye through complex and deft illusions. While exquisite for their craftsmanship and graphic use of pattern and color, Jungen’s works also contain subtle critiques of labor practices, global capitalism, and cultural stereotypes.
Liz Magor makes uncannily realistic casts of humble objects—garments, cardboard boxes, ashtrays—that speak to mortality and local histories. Magor’s delicate copies are often combined with found ephemera, whether tiny vices—such as cigarettes, candy, and alcohol—animals in the form of taxidermied birds and stuffed toy dogs, or small mementos given to her by friends. Social narratives of how things in the world are created, enter our lives, and depart to the junk heap as part of a vast human waste stream are folded together with personal anxieties and small worries, such as the desire to afford nice things, to mend what’s broken, and to preserve order against inevitable entropy.
“I’m not sending a message, I’m creating an experience…for looking.”