Artist talk with:

Erin Shireff & Nancy Holt

Thursday, April 18, 2013

This is a CASV members-only event.
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Erin Shirreff’s solo exhibition at the Contemporary Art Gallery will be the first presentation of her work exclusively dedicated to her films and videos. It is a notable and somewhat unexpected focus that may seem counter to Shirreff’s investment in the language and materiality of sculpture. She often defines herself as a sculptor, but this identification has less to do with the presentation of physical objects as it does with looking at our experience of objects – how sharing the same space with a ‘thing’ varies from looking at its representation.

In her work in general, Shirreff sets these divergent experiences in opposition, reproducing sculpture as images or making sculpture that carries the property of a photograph. In Knives (2008), she modeled and carved a variety of knife -like forms from clay and plasticine, which she presented only as reproductions in a series of black and white photographs. And her most recent sculptures made from ash and cement resemble photographs with solid fronts that at other angles reveal themselves to be only an inch thick. Shirreff creates an antagonistic relationship between the two experiences, challenging one against the other — testing which better holds the viewer’s attention.

Erin Shirreff (b. 1975, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She earned a BFA from the University of Victoria (1998) and an MFA from Yale University (2005). Awards and honors include The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant (2011), a Canada Council for the Arts Project Grant (2011), and The Hayward Prize for Fine Arts from The Austrian-American Foundation (2005). She has been a resident at the Chinati Foundation (2011), The Western Front Society (2010), The MacDowell Colony (2008), and the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (2005).

Nancy Holt is one of the leading artists of her generation and a pioneer in conceptual, site-specific art and film and video work. She is one of a group of important international artists who initiated the Land art movement in the late 1960s. The Contemporary Art Gallery brings together a selection of photographs from 1967 onwards, many seen for the first time in public, alongside pivotal film works. Holt deals with themes centring on memory, perception, time and space. She uses the natural environment as both medium and subject with a focus on the cyclical time of the universe, the daily axial rotation of our planet Earth and its annual orbit around the sun. Photography has always played a central role within her work, both as a way of engaging with the landscape and as a way of documenting site-specific projects.

This exhibition includes major photographic pieces, including early work such as Concrete Visions (1967), an important project made on Dartmoor while visiting the UK with the artist Robert Smithson over forty years ago, Trail Markers (1969); a series of photographs entitled Light and Shadow Photo-Drawings (1978); and photographs by Holt of her most famous work, Sun Tunnels, 1973 – 76 among others. Vancouver itself could not be a more appropriate location for this exhibition, the city renowned for its setting within magnificent natural surroundings, the ongoing photographic legacies in picturing within international visual arts practice, and also being the site for the seminal Glue Pour (1970) by Robert Smithson, Holt’s late husband.