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Occupy Movement, Arab Spring Get Creative Treatment in Kamloops

Kamloops Art Gallery October 12 to December 31, 2012

Opening this week, “An Era of Discontent: Art as Occupation” is Kamloops Art Gallery curator Charo Neville’s meditation on the stream of uprisings, protests and calls for revolution—like the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring—that have worked their way into a seemingly global consciousness this year.

Bringing together work by Sabine Bitter and Helmut Weber, Younes Bouadi and Jonas Staal, Christoph Buchel, In Protest, Cameron Kerr, Teresa Marshall, Alex Morrison, John Sharkey, Holly Ward and Elizabeth Zvonar, the show aims to assert that in a time when all seems to be in flux, artists can become critical and crucial occupiers of intellectual and ideological space.

Vancouver-based artist Cameron Kerr has created a new work for the exhibition in the form of a single-channel video and sculpture. In the video, Kerr is seen traversing a clear-cut, though strangely picturesque, area of Squamish, British Columbia. Then, he stays his pace and begins to carve a human bust from a tree stump with a chainsaw. The bust, which is not clearly identifiable in the video, is that of Karl Marx, and it is presented as a sculpture atop a plinth in the gallery.

The KAG is also facilitating a new incarnation of Vancouver artist Holly Ward’s poster-based project Persistence of Vision. Not only are Ward’s colourful posters installed inside the gallery; they also spill out from the white cube, wrapping the gallery’s exterior walls. Throughout the show, Neville says, there will also be a guerilla-postering campaign, with Ward’s work leaving the gallery altogether to intervene in the surrounding community.

Perhaps as a way of avoiding a feeling of stasis in a show concerned with an undeniably dynamic subject, the KAG has organized a two-day roundtable discussion for October 13 and 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. At this event, artists and academics will be working with the public to examine the multifaceted role of art within the context of local and world politics. The roundtable is to be recorded, edited and displayed in the gallery during the exhibition as well.

Rather than addressing any singular issue, “An Era of Discontent: Art as Occupation” hopes to look at general tactics used by politically motivated artists, with cultural capital, labour, war, nationhood and mass resistance all being modes worth examining in the struggle for political power.

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