Fuse at the VAG shoes its "stuff"

Although each floor at the Vancouver Art Gallery presently has spectacular work on the walls, the current exhibits took the back seat last week as the gallery brought out some great multimedia and live action works for its newest rendition of Fuse, an event that promotes community and public interest in the art scene. Tickets for Fuse rang in at just under 20 dollars, but are free for gallery members. The event happens several times a year, and always has a different theme. This time around, the event was aptly titled "Stuff", a term that promotes the concept of collecting, gathering and organizing, all words that draw connections to the six chosen works for this one-night only event.

The fourth floor housed not only one, but two overwhelming exhibits. Inside the main area, Heidi Magtegaal's "Headband Project" had taken over the space in full form. Nagtegaal's mandate is quite specific. "I make them myself," she writes about her headbands. "I give them out at parties, gatherings, events, weddings, funerals, art openings, [and] music shows." Nagtegaal makes the headbands out of yarn by the truckload. "Everyone must have the opportunity to have one, but they don't have to take one. They can wear, decorate, collect them, throw them away or cherish their object, however they please." The area taken over by the Headband Project corresponded nicely, with braided carpets and table decor that matched the headbands. Large clusters of Magtegaal's wearable art hung in balls from the ceiling, and were being handed out by some of Nagtegaal's colleagues and fans. The feeling of community that came from the act of trading and giving the headbands was the real message, and the Fuse exhibit of the Headband Project was a great finale for Nagtegaal's work.

Outside on the rooftop, a collection of well-organized junk was stored in a manner that made it seem less like trash and more like a museum. "Hrothgar's Stuff" consisted of the large and assorted collection of Hrothgar Matthews, a local resident who would easily be at home on the television show Hoarders. Various items, from snow shoes to cheese graters to globes, were organized in small displays of like items, with Matthews's commentary written on yellow post-it notes among the display. A collection of tea kettles was adorned with a note reading "Please do not touch pour tea."

A massive white screen was hanging overtop the rotunda on the third floor looking down to the main floor. From either side of the screen, old style film projectors were displaying fuzzed out imagery as part of Alex MacKenzie's "Accumulation". The film projected images onto the opposite sides of the screen. As the film rolled through the projectors, it collected into a massive heap on the floor beside the projector, making the work not only video work, but a chaotic makeshift sculpture as well, that only increased throughout the five hour event. Exhibit-goers continually approached "Accumulation", lifting the celluloid filmstrips from the floor, examining the images to see if the blurred projection showed more clarity in its film strip format.

Every hour, a 15-minute performance would occur, featuring either Jodaiko, a Taiko drumming ensemble, or Out Innerspace, a local modern dance troupe. During the Out Innerspace performances, the 10 members made their way up and down the rounded staircases in elegant formations, with each dancer mimicking the move of the last member seconds later, creating a delayed wave type motion. Below, a massive crowd of spectators packed in tightly to admire the performance. The piece, like all of the studio's work, was created as a site-specific piece for Fuse.

Vancouver musician Veda Hille performed against the High East Wall, highlighting selections from her upcoming musical A Craigslist Cantata. The material was exactly what the title suggests, with material from "lyrics taken right off our favourite website" as she jokingly explained. Hille performed three sets throughout the night of various tracks, each seemingly more hilarious than the last, yet smart in musical delivery and context. As she bopped along to her piano, Hille sang along, chirping "I will pay you one dollar to sit in my bathtub full of noodles, while you wear a one piece bathing suit." The songs struck a chord with the packed audience, who erupted in laughter after each ridiculous line, and stood to applause Hille upon finish. Her ballads about a Starbucks barista's missed connections, and a collection of cat themed hats that need a new owner were illuminated by striped yellow and pink neon lights that created a dramatic effect to match the modern narratives of the songs.

By the end of the night, the visual and musical array found throughout the gallery was beyond what my senses could take in, but in the best possible way. The energy of the entire gallery was unmistakable, as smiling faces, generally matched with a coloured headband and intriguing discussion, were filling up the parts of the gallery that weren't overtaken with household objects or never ending film strips. Visually, audibly and emotionally stimulating, there was certainly no shortage of stuff to experience at Fuse.

//JJ Brewis
Art Director

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: