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Ron Terada: Urbanity and Unease

Whether he’s positioning highway-style signage in gallery spaces or organizing an art magazine consisting solely of advertisements, Vancouver artist Ron Terada is known for wryly manipulating symbols of authority. His latest gallery show focuses specifically on symbols of excess and their associated, often phantasmic, imagery.

One work, inspired by Blade Runner’s ultra-urban geisha billboards, is a video projection showing three Caucasian girls in maiko getups consuming (or nearly consuming) pills, cigarettes and alcohol. Seductive yet puzzling, it speaks to the ways urbanites are enticed daily with dynamics of looking and exoticism.

Another work, a neon piece, addresses a different kind of spectacle—that of violent sport. In it, Terada transposes hockey player Todd Bertuzzi’s comment on his fighting habit, “It is what it is,” to the past tense “It was what it was.” After all, Bertuzzi, currently so alive in his aggression, will pass away or weaken sometime, whether by the stick, the sword or good old-fashioned senescence.

Overall, Terada’s work suggests that the landscape, as well as its maps, its indicators and its heroes, are not what they seem to be. And in keeping us uneasy, he keeps his work strong. (274 E 1st Ave, Vancouver BC)

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