New Vancouver Art Gallery exhibit explores consumerism through camera lens

Feb 20 2021, 12:07 am

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A new exhibition featuring a wide array of lens-based works by local and international artists is opening this weekend at Vancouver Art Gallery.

Pictures and Promises, the feature exhibition for the Capture Photography Festival, is drawn from the Vancouver Art Gallery’s rich photographic holdings. Opening on February 20, Pictures and Promises focuses on lens-based works that employ the structures, conventions and formal qualities used in commercial culture, mass media, fashion and advertising.

The works then deploy these strategies to play on collective understandings of the world around us and to investigate the iconography of consumerism.

“In an increasingly visual and digital world, it is both fascinating and important to understand the often subtle and coded role of images in creating knowledge,” said Anthony Kiendl, CEO and Director, Vancouver Art Gallery in a release. “This is a timely and valuable exploration of the ways images, words and art intersect and transform information into meaning.”

Vancouver Art Gallery

Eric Metcalfe, Howard Hughes Inc., 1977, screenprint on paper, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of Maryon and Jack Adelaar

The exhibition features local, national and international lens-based artists and includes a broad selection of artwork from both historical and contemporary periods. Featured artists include Vikky Alexander, Eugène Atget, Walker Evans, Gu Xiong, Richard Hamilton, Barbara Kruger, Ken Lum, Yasumasa Morimura, Andy Warhol and Zhang O.

Pictures and Promises speaks to the pervasive nature of lens-based images in society at large and the importance of visual literacy and critical analysis in reading those images,” said Emmy Lee Wall, Executive Director, Capture Photography Festival in a release. “We are thrilled to be partnering with the Vancouver Art Gallery in presenting this exhibition and we are truly grateful for their collaborative spirit. It was a joy to work with their rich photographic holdings.”

The title of the new exhibit is a direct reference to the 1981 exhibition Pictures and Promises: A Display of Advertisings, Slogans and Interventions, that was on view at the Kitchen Center for Video and Music in New York. Curated by artist Barbara Kruger, the exhibition combined advertisements, television commercials, posters, commercial photography and corporate signage with works of art, proposing that the ways in which “artists have chosen to engage the codes of advertising aesthetics suggests the ease of popular visual language.”

Pictures and Promises

When: February 20 to August 22, 2021
Where: Vancouver Art Gallery – 750 Hornby St., Vancouver
Tickets: Online

Daniel ChaiDaniel Chai

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