Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 7 - 9pm
Gallery tour and student lead performances
Thursday, March 23, 2017, 1:30pm
Student Lead gallery tour
Saturday, April 1, 2017, 2:00 - 3:00.
SFU's School for the Contemporary Arts' (SCA) third-year Visual Art students present an exhibition featuring counter-archives of vernacular images and micro-histories. Through these displays, students present their theoretical and aesthetic reflections on the significance of the archive and its aporias.
Towards the development of Best Before:Archivised, students worked with the Spring 2017 Audain Visual Artist in Residence (AVAIR), Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyen in a series of workshops that investigated the function of the archive(s) and how they can be reconfigured to counter the conventional narratives of settler colonialism. Nguyen worked with students to experiment with archival modalities including unorthodox approaches to classification and representation, as they concern citizenship and national histories. The counter-archives they produced challenge the imbalance between stable, linear state-constructed narratives, and the uneven, non-linear story of migrants and Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Students were also given the opportunity to work closely with Nguyen during individual studio visits and through an interview they conducted with the artist. Upon formulating questions regarding the role of the archive as both a conceptual tool and a vehicle for the presentation of alternative knowledge, the process addressed the complexities of working with archival material in the age of digitization, as well as the importance of engaging with archives in a research-based capacity.
The AVAIR program introduces students to the work of practicing artists such as Nguyen, through collaborative encounters and seminars. A central theme of the 2016-17 residencies was working through the issues that archival-based research and practice raise. In the Fall 2016 semester, students were primed on this theme through the work of AVAIR artist Walid Raad, who examines the instability of documents and archives in the public realm, the role of memory and narrative in conflict discourses, and the construction of histories of art in the Arab world. Following Nguyen's residency, Vancouver-based artist Jayce Salloum, whose practice centres around questions of representation, transnationalism and exile, was invited to work with the class.
Best Before: Archivised is a testament to the importance of the pedagogical processes that are central to AVAIR. Conceived within the context of the third-year Visual Art studio class and parallel seminar, and fueled by the collaborative encounters with the work of Raad, Nguyen and Salloum Best Before: Archivised is not set by curatorial parameters. Rather, the exhibition speaks to the multiple ways in which students are introduced to the processes of working through the complexities that archival-based practice presents, and how these methodologies are interpreted, informing their own archival articulations. The tables placed throughout the Audain Gallery represent the formal limit within which these projects were able to take shape through the course of a semester, working with faculty member Jin-me Yoon and TA, Tessa Sechay.
Best Before: Archivised is premised on the photographs that each student selected to initiate and inform their projects. These photographs serve as points of entry and departure into the structure of an archive itself, and initiate the first stage of preproduction. It is this initial moment of preproduction - the selection, engagement and activation of archival material - that allows our archival impulses to manifest. Best Before: Archivised explores individual processes of working with archives through research-based practice as a tool for exercising cognizance, in terms of how knowledge is produced, classified and represented. Thus, works presented do not show a literal relationship to physical archives or archival installations, but rather the stakes that are raised along the way. As the title suggests, anything has potential to be activated and re-animated; it is what we choose to bring forth into the world and how we choose to order knowledge that allows for meaning and counter-meaning to form.
In addition to the third-year students' exhibition, the SCA's unique LandMarks2017 curriculum Laboratory Landscapes, taught by Sabine Bitter, presents their archival-based work, which seeks to uncover the traces - tangible and intangible - of colonialism in our everyday lives. Bringing these traces to the table addresses and subverts the archive of the Canadian colonial project and its persistence into the present. For more information, click here and here.