Carole Itter, Please Meet The Geese Who Have Lived Here Forever (detail), 2019. Single channel video with sound. Camera and editing by Allison Hrabluik. Image courtesy the artist.
Carole Itter: Please Meet the Geese Who Have Lived Here Forever:
Set, Properties, and Film
January 20 – March 11, 2023
Rooted in the collaborative and interdisciplinary energy that burgeoned on the West Coast in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Carole Itter’s artistic practice has embraced performance, installation, voice improvisations, video and photography, recordings of oral histories, assemblage, collage, poetry, and prose. The palpable connection between these different expressions is the artist’s concern for our social and ecological futures, her insistent humour, and her commitment to community. The focus of this solo exhibition is Itter’s most recent major filmic work, Please Meet the Geese Who Have Lived Here Forever. A fable of sorts, this single-channel video meditates on the consequences of resource extraction, marine pollution, and ecological extinction. It is narrated by a family of wild geese who seek refuge along the foreshore of Burrard Inlet (səl̓ilw̓ət), a place the artist has observed closely for many years.
Audiences familiar with Itter’s performance and sculpture practice —particularly her assemblages of found objects — will recognize similar approaches present in Please Meet the Geese Who Have Lived Here Forever. The set is in itself a large-scale assemblage, built entirely from materials salvaged from second-hand shops, alleyways, and backyards from the artist’s East Vancouver neighbourhood. As in much of Itter’s work, the intentional awkwardness of the film’s repurposed and hand-made elements operates as a signal of her irreverence toward conventional “high art” value systems and her repudiation of settler culture’s rapacious overconsumption. Her own role in the film as lead goose, performed in an ungainly papier mâché body, suggests just how out of step contemporary human existence is with the natural world. But these material strategies also speak to Itter’s profound understanding of the power of shared imagination — particularly evident in how children work together — to transform even the most underwhelming conditions into something magical. It is another way too, perhaps, in which Itter reminds her audiences that we need not feel alone. In fact when asked why geese have been such an enduring subject of interest to her, Itter has simply stated, “they understand what it means to be a community.”
A limited-edition colouring book, adapted from Itter’s hand-drawn storyboards for the film, accompanies the exhibition as an offering to the artist’s youngest and, in some ways, most important audience community.
This project has been developed in conversation with another solo exhibition on Carole Itter’s work, to be presented at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia, in Fall 2023. Together these exhibitions trace a path backwards in time, from the artist’s most recent to earliest bodies of work.
Curated by Kimberly Phillips
An interdisciplinary artist, writer, performer, and filmmaker, Carole Itter was born in Vancouver and has lived on the West Coast for most of her life. She began her studies at the University of British Columbia (1958, 1963), and continued at the Vancouver School of Art (1959 – 1963), where she learned from Don Jarvis, Bruce Boyd, and, most notably for Itter, Roy Kenzie Kiyooka. She studied theatre design and drawing at Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome (1964). Throughout her studies, Itter supported herself by working in Vancouver’s only professional theatrical scene shop for several months of each year. This experience made a permanent impression on her artistic practice.
Itter has held solo exhibitions at Western Front (1984), the Vancouver Art Gallery (1991), Or Gallery (1995), grunt gallery (2000, 2007), and the Georgia Art Studio (2022). Her work has been presented in many group exhibitions, including WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2008, which exhibited photographic enlargements from her publication The Log’s Log (1973).
Itter collaborated with poet and novelist Daphne Marlatt to compile Opening Doors: Vancouver’s East End: Strathcona (1979), an archive of oral history of Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood, where Itter and Marlatt continue to live and work. She has also produced a book of short stories, Whistle Daughter Whistle (1982); and three artist books: The Log’s Log (1973); Location: Shack (1986); and Western Blue Rampage (1990). Itter’s films include The Float (1993) with cinematographers Trudy Rubenfeld and Luke Blackstone; A Fish Film (2003), with cinematographer and co-director Bo Myers; Tarpaulin Pull (2006), with cinematographer Krista Lomax; Inlet (2009), with editor Krista Lomax; Please Meet the Geese Who Have Lived Here Forever (2019), with cinematographer and editor Allison Hrabluik; and 400 Miniature Geese on a Moving Inlet (2022), with emerging cinematographer Esther Rausenberg and additional support from Allison Hrabluik. Itter collaborated extensively with composer, pianist, and multi-media artist Al Neil from 1979 until he was in his 80s. Neil died in 2017 at age 93.
Itter was honoured with the VIVA Award in 1989 and the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts in 2017.
Thursday, January 19 / 7 - 9pm
The artist will lead a procession through the gallery at 8:00pm (Masks are encouraged)
Family day Making activity with Collage Collage
Saturday February 11 / 2 – 5pm
Bernard Reading Circle
Thursday March 3 / 3 – 4pm
Audain Gallery, facilitated by Kimberly Phillips