Trend Alert: Contemporary Art + Writing

Photo of young woman typing on a laptop in a busy subway station.

Sometimes I think, I Can See You. Photo credit: Tanja Dorendorf. Courtesy of PuSh.

Has anyone else in Vancouver noticed that writing, literature and reading have become something of a theme within the local art scene lately? I am fascinated by this intersection.

The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival opens next week and features a provocative series entitled Fiction(s). It’s a suite of pieces that explores public space, writing and contemporary art practice.

Mariano Pensotti’s Vancouver debut of Sometimes I Think, I Can See You starts on January 18 and continues over the three weekends of the PuSh Festival. Pensotti’s project turns writing fiction into performance art. He asks, “What stories simmer just beneath the surface of the public spaces we dwell in?” Pensotti will station 12 writers in the lobby of the Vancouver Art Gallery and the atrium of the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch. Each writer will be equipped with a laptop to record a live account of their observations blended with their imaginings. The strangers in the Art Gallery lobby or the Library atrium may become characters in a work of fiction which is projected live on a screen near their station. Dates and times are listed on the PuSh Festival site.

The PuSh Festival, Vancouver Public Library and Grunt Gallery team up with curator Dave Deveau on another Lower Mainland Human Library similar to the upcoming project at Surrey Libraries described previously on this blog by Meghan Savage. The Human “books” in the 2013 PuSh Festival Human Library include Refugee, Sex Therapist, Female Heavy Machinery Engineer, CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) Culture Pirate, Polyamorous, and more.

Over at the Western Front Gallery, local author and Emily Carr University instructor Aaron Peck will give a talk on January 26 at the Western Front Gallery entitled “That Sound Should Have Been our Title:  Ekphrasis and the Novel in Contemporary Art.  He will address “the categorical confusion that arises from encountering novels in the exhibition-context of contemporary art…” which “…can lead to new ways of thinking.”

Art Spiegleman CO-MIX is a major retrospective of the acclaimed comic artist at the The Vancouver Art Gallery in February.  The exhibition features over 400 drawings, sketches, and panels from his early 1970s underground comics, his commercial graphic design work, and reveals Spiegelman’s narrative and formal innovations in his best-known Maus and most recent In the Shadow of No Towers.

In tandem with the Vancouver Art Gallery’s upcoming exhibitions Art Spiegelman CO-MIX, Hope At Dawn: Watercolours by Emily Carr and Charles John Collings, and Grand Hotel, the Vancouver Public Library is hosting a special book club at the Vancouver Art Gallery where participants will read three titles related to the exhibitions.

Is your library supporting and connecting with literary artists as exemplified by VPL’s support of the PuSh and Vancouver Art Gallery? Can you imagine other possibilities?  Have you noticed this convergence of art and literary circles outside Vancouver?

6 thoughts on “Trend Alert: Contemporary Art + Writing

  1. lyndsay

    nice, tara! can’t wait to check out the Art Spiegelman exhibit. Maus gripped me to the core when I first discovered it in an art bookstore on a trip to NY in the 1990s.

    1. taramatsuzaki Post author

      Lyndsay, Maus is on my top 5 graphic novels list! Did you know Spiegelman recently created a work for children, TOON book Jack and the Box and was also the creator of the novelty items Wacky Packages & Garbage Pail Kids during the 70s & 80s?


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