Sculptor Elspeth Pratt and multidisciplinary artist Corin Sworn investigate the political and ideological implications of the built environment in a new two-person show opening today at Vancouver’s Blanket Contemporary Art. Pratt, who is perhaps best known for her ingenious and skilful manipulations of found building materials into exacting minimalist sculptures, here turns her attention to the ways ornamentation and architecture construct spaces of authority. Her colourful, small-scale structures read like schematic notations for B.C. Binning–inspired IKEA furniture, prompting awareness of the unsettling ways that modernist design often mirrors a modern fascination with overarching (and at times overwrought) narratives of progress.
Delicate pencil drawings by Sworn further underscore the disturbing social connotations of modern architecture. Simple captions, such as Boy in the Bubble 1974 and Germany 1972, narrate her photorealistic depictions of a now-anachronistic utopian future. The results provide a restrained meditation on the loaded parallels between language and design, and between ideologies and architecture, that have ongoing resonance well into the 21st century. (235 Alexander St, Vancouver BC)