BFA Project 2017
Best Before: Archivised

March 23 - April 1, 2017
Audain Gallery

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.

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.

In addition to the third-year students' exhibition, the SCA's unique LandMarks 2017 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. 

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.

Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyen is a research-based artist currently living and working in Stockholm. She uses a broad range of media-while primarily relying on archival material-to investigate issues of historicity, collectivity, utopian politics and multiculturalism within the framework of feminist theories. Nguyen completed the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York (2011); obtained her MFA and a post-graduate diploma in Critical Studies from the Malmö Art Academy, Sweden (2005); and a BFA from Concordia University, Montreal (2003). Nguyen's work has been shown internationally in institutions including the EFA Project Space (2016); Mercer Union, Toronto (2015); MTL BNL at the Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montreal (2014); Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (2013); and Apexart, New York (2013). She is currently working with curator Rado Istok on editing Crating the World: Displaced Myths, Desires and Meanings, a compendium to her exhibition Black Atlas, which will be published in Spring 2017, with support from the Sharjah Art Foundation.

Presented by the School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU and the Audain Visual Artist in Residence.


Opening Reception
Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 7 - 9pm
Audain Gallery

Gallery tour and student-led performances
Thursday, March 23, 2017, 1:30pm
Audain Gallery

Student-Led gallery tour
Saturday, April 1, 2017, 2-3pm
Audain Gallery



BFA Project 2017: Best Before: Archivised. Installation view, Audain Gallery, 2017. Photo: Dennis Ha.