“Please join us for a conversation between Vancouver artists Kelly Lycan and Liz Magor about Lycan’s installation, Underglow, preceded by a short walk-through tour by the artist. The discussion will consider the concepts that informed the exhibition in relation to Lycan’s and other artist’s practices.
Underglow is a response to Presentation House Gallery’s architecture and history. The installation – entirely in shades of black and white – transforms the gallery spaces to bring the past into dialogue with the present. The artist reflects on the growing impact of digital imagery on the display and reproduction of photographs.
Underglow features a full-scale replica of Gallery 291 that operated in New York between 1905 and 1917. This now iconic photography gallery, initially conceived to promote the medium as home to the Photo-Secessionists, was the first exhibition space to profile photography as art and introduced many European modernist artists to America, including Matisse and Duchamp. Lycan’s structure mimics a black and white photograph taken by Alfred Stieglitz of a 1906 exhibition at 291, itself built as an imitation of Victorian décor and Arts and Crafts design. Viewers are invited to walk through a simulation of the photograph, complete with decorative details and a foliage bouquet –everything except pictures on the walls. This illusionistic set is paralleled with Lycan’s reconfiguration of the white cube gallery space. In this disorienting arrangement of grainy black and white photographs taken in modernist New York museums, abstracted convex and concave spaces merge into the existing gallery architecture. The exhibition also includes slight alterations to Presentation House Gallery’s architecture. Based on the artist’s research in the Gallery’s photo-documentation archive of exhibition installations, Lycan references past techniques of exhibition display, drawing out the impact of display methods on the reception of art. This exhibition extends Lycan’s ongoing investigations of the ways that décor and the armatures of display determine the meaning of objects, and draws attention to the interplay between systems of representation and perceptual experience.
Kelly Lycan lives and works in Vancouver. Initially studying photography at Ryerson in Toronto, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1992, and her Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles in 1998. Her work has been exhibited in exhibitions across Canada, the US and Europe, including solo presentations at SFU Gallery, Burnaby, 2014; Or Gallery, Vancouver, 2011 and Gallery TPW, Toronto, 2009. She is a member of Instant Coffee, a service-oriented artist collective.
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.”