Evan Lee, Fugazi. Installation documentation, Teck Gallery, 2019. Photo: Blaine Campbell.

Evan Lee: Fugazi

May 11, 2019 - April 26, 2020
Teck Gallery

Evan Lee's image-based practice undertakes interdisciplinary considerations of vision and constructions of value through photography, painting and sculpture. In particular, Lee's work examines the aesthetic and social consequences that occur in the evolution of images and imaging technology. His yearlong photo-based installation, Fugazi at the Teck Gallery, considers methods of image capture as they effect ways of seeing and how value is socially constructed. 

Fugazi begins from photographic scans of cubic zirconia, a relatively inexpensive crystalline form of synthesized material that often stands in for diamonds.[1] The images are captured in detail and enlarged to a scale that transforms the gemstones' internal appearance to one that magnifies the distortion and fracture of light. Capturing is integral to photography and Lee's image capture opens up space for the questioning of optic purity, of the cubic zirconia and of the image itself (as the act of enlargement results in a loss detail). The resulting abstract patterns and refracted colours in Fugazi present a destabilizing kaleidoscopic effect, similar to sunlit stained-glass windows. 

Because of low cost, durability, purity, and visual likeness, cubic zirconia is a key competitor for diamonds. Cubic zirconia has been seen as a potential solution to the controversy surrounding the rarity and valuation of diamonds. However, the diamond monopoly persists in perpetuating and fabricating worth through other cultural measures. "Fugazi" is a fictionalized slang term for a counterfeit gemstone.[2]

The captures of the tiny gemstones are scaled up and bisected for the Teck Gallery to fenestral proportions, and in their installation begin to share a language of architecture, landscape and development. In dialogue with the Teck Gallery's view overlooking Burrard Inlet and North Vancouver's coastal mountains, Fugazi is an intervention in the edifice, mimicking and making strange aspects of building and its design, akin to a faceted window illuminated from behind. Conjuring spaces of worship, the installation speaks to economies of belief including religion, education and capitalism. Rising like mineral suns, Fugazi positions the images along a horizon line that connects with our daily planetary rotations while also drawing lines to the extraction industries and the appetite for development that Vancouver is built on.[3]

Fugazi carries an open-ended resonance in relation to value and land. Extraction economies are increasingly being challenged in this moment of late capitalism where climate change is an oppressive force and a turn to renewal and alternate solutions are called for. Our relation to land as a site of colonization is showing its irreversible damage to cultural and environmental ecologies. In its consideration of the complexity of vision, Fugazi asks us to unpack how we understand value in the image and its referents. 

Evan Lee is a Vancouver based artist. He received his MFA from the University of British Columbia. Exhibitions include Libby Leshgold Gallery; Winnipeg Art Gallery; Richmond Art Gallery; Kamloops Art Gallery; Vancouver Art Gallery; Contemporary Art Gallery; Presentation House Gallery; Contact Photography Festival; Le Mois de la Photo à Montreal; Liu Hai Su Museum; and Confederation Centre. He was shortlisted for the Sobey Art Prize in 2014 and his work is represented by Monte Clark Gallery.

Curated by Melanie O’Brian

[1] The images were originally printed with the gemstones uncropped in a series of 5 x 5’ prints bearing the same title in 2016. The images were reworked for the Teck Gallery.

[2] https://www.dictionary.com/e/slang/fugazi/(accessed Mar 19, 2019)

[3] The Teck Gallery was established with funds from a mining company that has extracted coal, precious metals and minerals from this region.


Talk: Clint Burnham on Evan Lee's Fugazi
Saturday, November 23, 2pm
Teck Gallery

Artist Essay: Fugazi Economy
SFU Galleries Blog

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