333 Chesterfield Avenue, North Vancouver, BC V7M 3G9

A Thousand Quarrels: Liz Magor

Opening Reception: Saturday, June 7, 3PM
Artist in attendance

Presentation House Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition that showcases photographs by the celebrated Vancouver artist Liz Magor.  As suggested by the title that references Rousseau’s ideas about social freedom, A Thousand Quarrels reflects her longstanding preoccupation with shelters and wilderness refuge.

For this exhibition Magor has drawn on her extensive photographic archive of shacks and provisional huts found in the West Coast landscape. Her eye for these vernacular forms of improvised necessity reveal the inventiveness of their inhabitants who have recycled the detritus of previous economies.  Yet, as her images suggest, the lure of social retreat and independence is not without its perils. These shelters speak of the vulnerabilities of isolation.  Magor’s work draws out the subtle politics of conflict lingering in cultural myths of autonomy and utopic escape. As Lisa Robertson writing on Magor’s shacks has described,  “the city is the shack inside out…If architecture is writing, the shack is speech. Like a folksong, it stores a vernacular. What is the minimum necessary?”

For her exhibition, Magor has created a new photographic work that refers to the psychological need for a sense of protection.  In addition to images of shelters in the wilderness are photographs of back-to-the land campers enacting various lifestyles. The series Karl’s Castle of 2003 documents a fantastical tourist attraction on the remote island of Cortes where the artist has a second home. Built by a former Hungarian wrestling champion, mostly out of salvaged materials, Magor highlights the uncanny quality of the faux interiors of this medieval-style fortress.

Liz Magor has been exhibiting since the early 1970s and has participated in major exhibitions worldwide, including the 4th Biennale of Sydney, 1982; the Venice Biennale, 1984 and Documenta VII, 1987. She has studied at the University of British Columbia, Parsons School of Design and the Vancouver School of Art. Recent solo exhibitions include Triangle France, Marseille, 2013; The Mouth and other storeage facilities, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle and Simon Fraser University Gallery, Vancouver, 2008; and Liz Magor, The Power Plant, Toronto, 2003, among many others. Magor has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Audain Prize, 2009 and the Governor General’s Award, 2001. She is represented by Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver and Susan Hobbs, Toronto.

  • From Detail from Liz Magor's Shelters Archive, 1974-2014, courtesy the artist

  • Liz Magor installation

Soviet Hippies: The Psychedelic Underground of 1970s Estonia

Opening Reception: Saturday, June 7, 3PM

This exhibition provides insights into alternative cultural activities in Estonia under the Soviet regime. The curators conducted an indepth anthropological study of the Estonian underground for this exhibition of film interviews and documentary materials featuring individuals from Estonian music, art, and literature worlds who ignored or opposed the official socialist code of behavior. These manifestations of the hippie movement behind the Iron Curtain give a different perspective on global hippie culture and Soviet times.

As the curators have written:

“Coveting Western freedoms and spiritually inspired by the cultures of the East, a counterculture of flower children developed in the Soviet Union, which was disengaged from the official ideology and expressed itself through rock music, the cult of love, pacifism, actual and cosmic travel, and a physical appearance that was considered unacceptable for Soviet citizens. In Estonia, the so-called Soviet West, foreign radio broadcasts kept people updated on the happenings elsewhere in the world. Young minds were enthralled by iconic hippie-era albums from the West that were illicitly distributed and the knowledge that their contemporaries in the “free world” were rocking in the spirit of the slogan “Make love not war.”

The hippie movement in Soviet Estonia was not a clearly defined phenomenon, but rather an explosive youth culture with a perception of life that could unite vagabonds and academicians. However, the trend toward hippie fashions, long hair and great rock concerts was enough to make the Soviet authorities see a political threat that could subvert the regime. The more absurd the reality, the more fanatical Soviet flower power became. They created their own world in the shadow of harsh rules and repressions, and opposed the ruling system through symbolic expression.”

Kiwa (Kiwanoid as sound artist) is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Tartu and Tallinn in Estonia. His work concerned with cultural codes extends from conceptual objects to total audiovisual environments, including painting, installation, video, performance, sound art, scenography, text and books. Exhibiting since 1995, his work has been featured in exhibitions and festivals in Europe, America and Asia. He lectures at the Estonian Academy of Arts and has worked as a curator since 1999.

Terje Toomistu is a writer, documentary filmmaker and anthropologist, with interests in cross-cultural processes, queer subjectivities, and cultural memory. She is a PhD Ethnology student at the University of Tartu and this year was a Fulbright scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. She has co-written a novel Seven Worlds, 2009 about spiritualities in South America and is one of the authors of the documentary film Wariazone, 2011.

Their Soviet Hippies exhibition has been previously exhibited at the Estonian National Museum, Tartu; Moderna Museet in Malmö, Sweden, and Uppsala Konstmuseum in Sweden.

 

  • Vello Vinn, c.1967

  • Soviet Hippies install

Bruce Stewart: Dollarton Pleasure Faire, 1972

Opening Reception: Saturday, June 7, 3PM
Artist in attendance

Maplewood Mudflats Tour: Sunday, July 27, 11AM
with Bill Jeffries and Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia Founder Patricia Banning-Lover
Corrigan Nature House, Maplewood Conservation Area,
2645 Dollarton Highway, North Vancouver (2 km East of Second Narrows Bridge)

This exhibition showcases Bruce Stewart’s striking photographs from the 1972 Dollarton Pleasure Faire: a two-week celebration of alternative living at the infamous Maplewood Mudflats squatter village in North Vancouver. Stewart, who had been documenting renaissance faires and counterculture festivals throughout the province, acted as the event’s official photographer.

The Pleasure Faire was organized as a late summer party for the intertidal community, as well as a show of protest. Months earlier, the District of North Vancouver authorized police to execute a well-publicized series of evictions on the mudflats. Numerous homes were burnt and razed, and more evictions were promised. The Faire would be the community’s last large celebration. With the exception of one shack—belonging to Mike Bozzer, the “Mayor of Maplewood”—the remaining structures were destroyed in 1973. The Faire was conceived as an off-site version of the Pacific National Exhibition, one that would fuse the innovative spirit of modern, sustainable living with the socially regenerative forces of Carnival.

Stewart’s project records the brief period of repose between these two major evictions. His lush images locate moments of sun-kissed pleasure, playful repose and counterculture exuberance in a time of civic unrestand rapid urban development. Against the backdrop of the Burrard Inlet, with its mix of natural splendour and heavy industry, the Faire’s visitors undress, bathe, make-out and commune among the area’s improvised dwellings and wetlands. With intimate detail, Stewart captures both the festive spirit of the Faire as well as the mundane facts of mudflats living. His subjects spear-fish along the shoreline, dance with dogs, and erect laundry lines and makeshift campsites in a clear expression of resistance to middle-class mores and urban life.

Yet, in spite of the celebratory mood that underpins these works—or perhaps because of it—a distinctive sense of melancholy permeates the photographs.Beneath the nostalgic tinge of these images salient questions that continue to shape our current situation arise: What are the possibilities of autonomous living? What is resistance, and what is escape? Dollarton, 1972 offers a glimpse back to one of Vancouver’s most colourful—and controversial—moments in history, as well as an enduring case study into issues of community.

This exhibition is accompanied by a publication, West of Eden, which situates the Dollarton Pleasure Faire within the larger context of the mudflats settlement, the social history of Vancouver, and the conflicting ideologies that both frame and limit our ideas of community itself. Featuring essays and texts by Lance Blomgren, Tom Burrows, Ida Carnevale, Bill Jeffries and Robin Simpson.

 

Bruce Stewart is a Victoria photographer, painter and medical illustrator who lived in Vancouver throughout the 70s and 80s. Many of Stewart’s paintings and photographs identify key landmarks in B.C.’s psychogeography, from the Rockies to Long Beach. His solo exhibition, Salad Days, was shown at the Simon Fraser University’s Teck Gallery in 2007. Stewart’s photographs were also featured in Unfinished Business: Vancouver Street Photography 1955-1985 at Presentation House Gallery in 2003.

Bill Jeffries is a curator, writer and lecturer from Vancouver. Since 1983, Bill has organized almost 150 exhibitions. He has worked as the Director/Curator for The Contemporary Art Gallery, Presentation House Gallery and, most recently, at the Simon Fraser University Galleries from 2005-2012. His writings have appeared in catalogues and journals internationally.

The Maplewood Mudflats tour has been made possible thanks to The Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia’s Return of the Osprey Festival

  • Bruce Stewart, untitled, 1972

  • Bruce Stewart, Pleasure Faire, 1972 install