Collective Habitat 1997 – 2012 | ART-i-FACT: 88 East Cordova

In honour of Gallery Gachet’s 20th Anniversary
Collective Habitat 1997-2012
ART-i-FACT: 88 East Cordova
Curated by Bernadine Fox
Dec 6th, 2012 – Feb 17th, 2013
Opening night: Thurs Dec 6th, 7-10pm

This year Gallery Gachet celebrates 20 years of being an artist-run centre, and 15 years of inhabiting our space at 88 East Cordova Street in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. It is also the year our lease expires – renewal is in process but the longevity of maintaining our home is uncertain in a transitioning community rife with instability, gentrifying forces, and rapidly changing landscapes. 88 East Cordova has an artistic identity predating Gachet, bound intrinsically to the dynamic character of Canadian arts movements and communities.

ART-i-FACT: 88 East Cordova is a thematic series of programming examining and illuminating the state of contemporary arts culture in Vancouver, using our building as artifact and case-study: portal, microcosm and mirror. This examination emerges foremost from the perspectives of the artists who have utilized the space over the past to the present day. Last autumn’s presentation consisted of a Canada Council-funded performance art series curated by Irene Loughlin, The State of Perceived Folly in collaboration with LIVE 2011, as well as the Gallery Gachet & Oppenheimer Park Community Art Show that just celebrated and paid homage to our community engaged arts’ history.

This fall’s collective focused ART-i-FACT exhibition is entitled, Collective Habitat 1997-2012. It presents Gachet Collective Members’ works, past and present, engaging audiences with contemporary disability/mental health diversity/politicized art practices, artists and allies. Gachet’s gallery and studio space, precariously balanced in a neighbourhood undergoing advanced gentrification and predation, has emerged as a symbol of creative refuge and artist-driven authenticity. We present our physical space, 88 East Cordova, as a window through which to view Gachet Collective Members’ works and critical voices, and to further the public’s understanding of artist-run centres and threatened habitat.

The gallery and studio space at 88 East Cordova Street will drip with incarnations of our Collective’s momentum, transforming the space into a visage with emblazoned walls, plinths, illuminated nooks and crannies. Cumulatively this will paint an image of the essential relationship between physical space and artistic development for both individual artists and collectives.

For 15 years, this building has been home to diverse and unusual artists; it bears witness to creative engagement with art against oppression, paradigms of self-taught vs. school taught, politically motivated art, art borne of abuse and marginalization, inclusive art, and art revealing the power dynamics within contemporary art practice and institutions. 88 East Cordova has provided a backdrop for struggles, fruition, reinvention and triumphs. Gachet’s contributions are unusual, subversive and underrepresented. In the development of the knowledge exchange concerning art, Gachet engages mental diversity, inclusivity issues and intersections of oppression. Vision, reality and artistic output have an intimate relationship with perspective and socially-defined definitions of sanity and competence. As we move into a more expansive and accepting climate in the contemporary art world in Canada – one that is warming to Outsider art, ability-iconoclasm and political art – Collective Habitat creates an artistic and theoretical record of Gallery Gachet’s participation in this zeitgeist.

The space has not only been home to Gachet artists for 15 years. The artist collective Futura Bold was formed while renting 88 East Cordova as a studio from 1984 to 1986. Founding members Graham Gillmore, Angela Grossmann, Attila Richard Lukacs and Derek Root later became internationally-recognized artists. Sharing their studio was artist Susi Milne, the Western Front’s video and performance art curator at the time, and acclaimed writer and luminary, Douglas Coupland, who later in 2002 joined the Futura Bold Collective. In the mid 1990s Wesley Yuen, a collector and gallerist, ran Project Gallery at 88 East Cordova. It is also rumoured that Jack Shadbolt ran his studio out of the space – but no specific information is available to confirm this fact, so it will remain a whisper in 88 East Cordova’s past.

The show opens on Thurs Dec 6th, and is curated by long-time Gachet Associate Member, Bernadine Fox. With a catalogue contribution by Mary Ann Anderson, who was Gachet’s first staff person and continued on for nearly a decade – she brought the 88 East Cordova ‘for rent’ listing to the Collective’s attention in 1997 – and an essay by visual artist and writer, Bruce Ray, one of our longest members on the Collective.  To celebrate Gallery Gachet’s practice of exhibiting established artists, our Salon Shop area pays tribute to the many incredible artists we’ve had the privilege of working with over the years, including: Vasan Sitthiket, Claudia Bernal, Grant Mercs, SD Holman, Judy Jheung, Chumpon and Noi Apisuk, Deb Thompson; as well as a portion of the front gallery space dedicated to telling the history of the building and Collective through creative envisioning of text, images and historical record.

Gallery Gachet would not exist today without the dedication, hard work and support of all our past and current collective, associate and volunteer members, our past staff, and our funders, specifically, Vancouver Coastal Health, The City of Vancouver, Gaming, and the Canada Council Equity Fund. We thank you all.

Additional programming includes:
Artist Talk: Sat Jan 19th, 4 – 6pm
Film Screening: Fri Feb 1st, 7 – 10pm

For more info, please contact Lara Fitzgerald, Programming Director, 604 687 2468.

To see pictures from this exhibition, please visit our Flickr account https://www.flickr.com/photos/gallerygachet/sets/72157632218996058

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