“SWARM” is an annual art event sponsored by the nonprofit association of Artist Run Centres in Vancouver. The fourth SWARM kicked off the fall art season with more than 25 opening receptions held at a variety of artist run centres across the city. This year the grand event was expanded to three nights from one and took place from September 3rd to 6th.
The first day of SWARM was held in the Mt.Pleasant area. Eight places — antisocial, Dadabase/Xeno Gallery, Foundation, Aion gallery, Video IN Studios, Western Front, the Grunt Gallery, and the Butchershop Gallery– all hosted opening receptions on the evening of September 3rd. Most were not conventional gallery settings. A boutique (Dadabase), a cafe (Foundation) and a skateboard shop (antisocial) provided exhibition space and supported the cultural festival.
At the crowded corner of Main Street and Broadway, Mark Neufeld’s eccentric performance titled “Riot for A Rose” caught people’s attention. A half naked Neufeld created a rose on Dadabase’s show window with lipstick kisses. Even though his performance was disgusting, many viewers enjoyed it. The outside location, along with the performance’s dynamism made it more appealing to many viewers than 2D artworks hung in a “white cube.”
The second day of the event was held in the Gastown area, where the main artist run centres of Vancouver are located. The openings were held in ten places: Bfly, Dynamo Arts Association, Blakes, Artspeak, Access, Interurban, Gallery Gachet, the crying room, sugar and sugar, and Iron Works Studio.
The final night of SWARM was located in the Yaletown area. In addition to the Or Gallery, the Helen Pitt Gallery, Centre A, Onepointsix, and the Belkin Satellite, a field show by Video IN was held in Cathedral Park this year. The exhibition named “The philosophy and science of mutation” at Centre A was the hottest spot of the night. The exhibit presented photographs and a performance video installation by Babak Golkar, who is an Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design grad who won the Helen Pitt award in 2003.
Golkar’s exhibit explored human communications in a scientific and experimental way. In his video, Golkar tells his life story to a listener in a studio. And the listener tells another listener/storyteller the story. It is similar to the Telephone Game that is played among children or is used to test children’s abilities of listening and memorizing. While this performance is repeated, the phrase of Golkar’s story is obviously distorted with indirect conversation. Golkar suggests the outcome is something like a cerebral scientific defect. And what makes this piece humorous is that the storytellers/listeners enjoy telling Golkar’s story without questioning the correctness of the message. Golkar also sees this particular state of mind as a moral defect. Our communication is beyond certain limits of freedom. Golkar may reconfirm the origin, the evolution or the development of human dialog through this piece. The video installation is shown along with two shots of each storyteller/listener. Each person holds a remote shutter release in one hand and photographs himself or herself. In the photographs there are subtexts that test our visual reading. Besides verbal conversations, visual communication is exploratory and represented directly to the audience.
Like the previous four years, SWARM 4 provided more opportunities for the public to share local art scenes in Vancouver. The more the audience comes out and “swarms” around the galleries, the more artist-run culture in Vancouver will be supported. It is important for both artists and the public to get involved (communicate) socially and culturally.
Date: 4th – 6th September 2003
Address: 303 E.8th Avenue, V5T 1S1, Vancouver, BC Canada
Text and Photos: Aya Takada from SML-(6j6)