You won’t say that I hold the present too high, and if I do not despair of it, it is only because its desperate situation fills me with hope.
– Karl Marx in a letter to Arnold Ruge, May 1843
Ground Zero Redux brings together new and recent work by six unique Vancouver artists to explore the complex conceptual, narrative and material trajectories of the term “Ground Zero.” This exhibition – featuring photography, drawing, digital video projection, text and bookwork, assemblage, painting and kinetic sculpture – looks across a diverse range of artistic practice to explore the creative efficacy of Ground Zero, reevaluating the enduring legacy of this term as it relates to our current moment.
Ground Zero was first used as a name for the areas directly below atomic explosions (beginning with the Trinity Test Site, Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945), later signifying reinvention or rebirth through acts of leveling, collapse, total destruction or reduction to essences and tabula rasa-like states. While the violent creative/destructive essentialism of these scenarios has been critically derided across a variety of fields, Ground Zero mythologies continue to influence both the nebulous terrain of political policy, environmental discourse and philosophical inquiry, and the often urgent, definitive nature of our global socio-economic realities and ecological situation. The ongoing spectre of 9-11 – its place in our present narratives of protection, justification and preemption, and the resulting fallout of the actualization of these ideas – is a grave example of this. As this exhibition suggests, notions of Ground Zero can also persist in what philosopher Giorgio Agamben has called “bare life”—the reduction of people to Ground Zero-like states through incarceration, expulsion from political community, denial of rights and resources, torture and extreme poverty.
With these complications in mind, artists in this exhibition enact a variety of experiments with ideas of Ground Zero that are not strictly deconstructive, archeological or ironic. Instead, the works choose to critically engage the possibilities of starting over, and restoring points of departure to consciousness.
Julie Andreyev is a Vancouver-based multidisciplinary artist whose practice explores the social/spatial character of the city and ideas of animal consciousness. Her work has been shown in Canada, the US, Europe and Japan. Andreyev’s work is supported by The Canada Council for the Arts, The British Columbia Arts Council, Foreign Affairs Canada, and The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She is an Associate Professor of at the Emily Carr Institute, Vancouver, and co-curator of Interactive Futures Conference, Victoria, Canada. Website: www.fourwheeldrift.com
Martha González Palacios is originally from Mexico, where she obtained an architecture degree in 1995 and worked as an architect. She received her BFA from the Emily Carr Institute in 2001 and her MLIS from the University of British Columbia in 2007. Her work has been shown in Vancouver, Bellingham, and Washington DC.
Jeremy Isao Speier is a Japanese-Canadian interdisciplinary artist who graduated from the Emily Carr Institute in 1992. He works in film/video, kinetic sculpture and sound, and installation and has shown extensively across Canada in solo and group exhibitions. In 2008, he will be exhibiting at Elissa Cristall Gallery and Blim.
Nick Lakowski is a Vancouver artist primarily working with paint. He received a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute in 2004 and was a founding and active member of the counterpublics collective from 2003-6.
Gwenessa Lam received a BFA from the University of British Columbia and an MFA from New York University. She has taught at New York University, Emily Carr Institute, University of British Columbia, and the Art Institute of Vancouver. Her work has been shown in Canada and the USA, including the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Queens Museum of Art. She has also been awarded residencies at Skowhegan and MacDowell.
Marlene Yuen received her Bachelor’s in Studio Art in 1998 from the University of British Columbia. Marlene has exhibited at galleries, artist-run centres, and cultural events in Canada and Japan. Although she is a multidisciplinary artist, her current focus is on handmade books. She is an active member of the Canadian Bookbinders & Book Artist Guild and the Alcuin Society. Marlene is currently preparing for her forthcoming artist residency at the Klondike Institute of Art & Culture in Dawson City, Yukon. Please send her cookies.
Jeremy Todd is an interdisciplinary artist, teacher, curator and musician whose work has been shown, published and screened in Vancouver and beyond. He was the Director/Curator for the Helen Pitt Gallery from 2003-05, and in 2007 acted as the interim Director/Curator of the Richmond Art Gallery. He is currently teaching at UBC while developing a second feature-length experimental film.
Click here for a PDF version of the curatorial essay.