The VAG displays everything, everyday

A bathroom wall is shown covered in nearly a dozen urinals. Each urinal overflows with water spilling out into the other urinals, and eventually crashing onto the floor below. Urinals never looked so beautiful.
The new exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Everything Everyday, emphasizes the idea of everyday objects becoming the subject of art. It features captivating works from an assortment of artists such as Khan Lee, LAIWAN, Arabella Campbell and many others.

Bruce Grenville, the gallery's senior curator and head curator of the exhibit, says, “Repetitions make things super-normal.” He explains that making things larger or smaller can make them super-normal as well. Sometimes just putting them on display makes them become super-normal. Looking through the exhibits, we discover that even seeing an unusual amount of people trip and fall down over the course of an evening can be very confusing and impressive for people. Grenville says, “It's that idea that when the normal kind of gets shifted a little bit, it becomes something entirely different.”

The work in the show ranges from representing the early 1900s to the present – some is even from the 17th and 18th century. “That idea of everyday objects really becoming a subject for art is something that's relatively new,” says Grenville. “It's a modern idea really from the early 20th century onward. The thing about the everyday is that when you're living in it you don't notice it – it's just whatever surrounds you, so often you don't see art that's made about the very new.”

Grenville describes how Everything Everyday is something that has very little relation to current trends and technologies. When discussing the role of objects he says, “In order for them to become meaningful they have to have something attached to them – if they don't have memory attached to them, or meaning attached to them in some specific sort of way, then they're just objects for consumption.” With this perspective, the latest flashy iPhone distracts the viewer from what the object represents, which is the simple everyday act of communication.

This idea that a lot of technology is made primarily of objects for consumption may explain why there is a lack of technology in the exhibit. In fact, cassette tapes were among the most modern objects on display. In Khan Lee's “Bye-Bye” cassette tape display, the idea is centred on “junk left behind when the artist's apartment mates left.” Again, focusing on what the technology represents and not on the technology itself.

All things considered, there still isn't a clear reason given as to why older technology was chosen in the exhibit over newer technology. Although the latest Hummer may just be an “object for consumption” and not clearly representative of the simple act of transportation, a ‘70s muscle car could be considered equally distracting and unrepresentative of transportation to modern generations. No matter the era of objects displayed, however, the gallery accomplishes its goal of emphasizing objects that are usually overlooked.

A visit to the Everything Everyday exhibit shines light on the most basic aspects of life. When you leave the gallery and walk out onto the Vancouver sidewalk, all the ordinary things you see and hear may feel like they're on display. It’s easy to feel as though you're still in the exhibit, and have simply walked into a different wing.

Everything Everyday is at the VAG until January 23.

//Stephen Bate


Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com