Martine Syms: Borrowed Lady. Installation view, Audain Gallery, 2016. Photo: Blaine Campbell.

Martine Syms: Borrowed Lady

October 13 - December 10, 2016
Audain Gallery

Martine Syms works with images and texts from personal and popular archives, as well as with apparatuses of image production. Her videos, performances, publications and installations examine how private and public identity is constructed from familial, cultural and historical inheritances. The montage, collage and quotation strategies she uses are borrowed from the structures of early cinema, sitcom television, commercials, GIFs and Vines.

Borrowed Lady presents an expanded installation of Syms' 2015 video Notes on Gesture. Taking a cue from writer Samuel R. Delany's reflections on how feminine characters are constructed through the compositing of ideal physiological and psychological features, Syms draws from her archives to speculate on the influences on her actor's gestures.

Syms own practice is also formed of conceptual and critical inheritances. Alongside Delaney, Borrowed Lady is also informed by seventeenth century physician John Bulwer's study of hand gestures and their meaning; philosopher Giorgio Agamben's impressions on cinema's recuperation of the politics of gesture; and scholar Alison Landsberg's formulation of mass popular medias as "prosthetic"memory.

Syms is an artist based in Los Angeles. Her artwork has been exhibited and screened extensively, including recent presentations at New Museum, New York; The Studio Museum, Harlem; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Index, Stockholm; and Kunsthalle Bern. She has lectured at Yale University, California Institute of the Arts, University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University and MoMA PS1. From 2007-11, she directed Golden Age, a project space focused on printed matter. She is the founder of Dominica, a publishing imprint dedicated to exploring blackness in visual culture.

Curated by Amy Kazymerchyk.


Martine Syms in conversation with Laura U. Marks
Wednesday, October 12, 6pm
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre

Laura U. Marks is a scholar, theorist, and programmer of independent and experimental media arts. She works on experimental cinema, the media arts of the Arab world, Islamic genealogies of Western philosophy, and the embodied, process-based analysis of information culture. Her newest book is Hanan al-Cinema: Affections for the Moving Image (MIT Press, 2015); she is also the author of The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (Duke, 2000), Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (Minnesota, 2002), and Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art ( MIT, 2010). She has curated programs of experimental media for festivals and art spaces worldwide, including the Robert Flaherty Seminar in 2015. She teaches in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University, where she is Grant Strate University Professor.

Opening Reception
Wednesday, October 12, 7 - 9pm
Audain Gallery

Exhibition Tour
Saturday, November 19, 3pm
Audain Gallery

Part of the downtown Vancouver gallery tour with the Contemporary Art Gallery at 2PM. 

Video Program: The Unreliable Narrator
Saturday, November 19, 2016, 7pm
Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema

The Unreliable Narrator is a screening of six of her single-channel moving image works in the Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema. The program will include: My Only Idol Is Reality (2007, 7:06), Lessons (2014–2016, 15:00), A Pilot For A Show About Nowhere (2015, 24:29), Memory Palace (2015, 2:06), Notes on Gesture (2015, 10:30) and She Mad: Laughing Gas (2016, 7:00). 

Support Material


Martine Syms in Conversation with Laura U. Marks
Wednesday, October 12, 6pm
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre