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Myth of Fishes

  • Campbell River Art Gallery 1235 Shoppers Row Campbell River, BC V9W 2C7 Canada (map)

Sybil Andrews
Claire Falkenberg

Meghna Haldar
Olia Mishchenko
Nadia Myre
Wendy Red Star
Jennifer Stillwell
Holly Ward

Bringing together diverse artists from different backgrounds, Myth of Fishesexamines eight radically distinct feminist interpretations of nature. The exhibition, in part, takes its name from Rhonda Abrams’ 1985 short film of the same name, in which a woman’s first fishing experience results in a comic-opera of uncertainty where everyone involved as well as the objects emerge with physical and emotional contusions. 

A near-rhyming alliteration, Myth of Fishes is a tongue-twister, stretching the imagination, flipping the lips and slipping the S’s as the mind grasps at the species of fishes in the seas, streams, oceans and lakes, evoking the North Vancouver Island community’s history (and prehistory) with fishing.

Myth is a story passed through time, person to person, linked here with the fish or the symbol of shared plenty.Myth of Fishes is the expression of eight artists speaking through their diverse practices and conceptual engagements. Notions of nature as a pure realm apart from the human are redefined through political ecology, indigenous rights struggle, and feminism.

Sybil Andrews is an internationally renowned linocut artist who produced work from the late 1920’s through 1988. Born in England and emigrating to Campbell River in 1947, her influence in the Campbell River community was and continues to be profound. The linocut, Wings, will be Andrews’ contribution to the exhibition. The print is typical of Andrews’ style and rhythm, exploring the action of people, air, and birds in an agricultural scene. The work is part of the Campbell River Art Gallery’s Permanent Collection, presented to the Gallery by the Campbell River Arts Council upon opening.          

Claire Falkenberg is a visual artist who works in photography, paint, collage and sculpture to make landscape-based images and constructions. Born in Toronto, living and working in Brooklyn NY, Falkenberg’s large-scale photo and oil paint collages are at once mysterious and familiar, reimagining the Canadian landscape. Her photographs layer the picturesque with refuse and grime, working through understandings of beauty and materiality. Falkenberg has exhibited nationally, including a nuclear power plant in Pickering ON.

Meghna Haldar is an independent filmmaker based in Vancouver, originally from Bangalore, India. Haldar’s contribution to Myth of Fishes includes the three-part video installation, Bol (Speak!) inspired by the famous poem by Pakistani Marxist, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and is about an act of violence. Each film contends with shattering events that took place in 2008 in Haldar’s hometown, as well as newspaper headlines of related violence. The film project was made in partnership with Katkatha, a puppet troupe working with social justice and women’s rights in India, and Guru Shashidhara Nair, a Chauu dance exponent with a soundtrack designed by Jesse Zubot, Gael MacLean and Simon Goulet that features contribution by throat singers, Tanya Tagaq and Celina Kalluk.

Olia Mishchenko was born in Kiev, Ukraine and moved to Canada in 1997. She studied architecture and art history at the University of Toronto prior to becoming a practicing artist. Mishchenko’s practice consists predominantly of drawings based on, and concerned with, built environments. Mishchenko’s drawings are incredibly precise, controlled and detail-oriented, a result of studious applications of the aesthetic of architectural drawings and blueprints. Four drawings from Mishchenko’s Don Blanche series will be exhibited that show an interesting relationship between land and people, living, exploring and making.

Nadia Myre is a contemporary visual artist of Algonquin heritage living in Montreal, QC, known for using small, craft-based media to affect aesthetic and political shock-waves. Included in this exhibition, Meditations on Red #1utilizes traditional Algonquin beadwork to open a healing verse into wounding and resilience. This work is described as a large, textured tondos resembling gongs, planets, mandalas, or darkened pools with ripples extending radially from their centres. Closer inspection reveals a digitized universe of intertwined glass seed beads of varying shapes, sizes, and colours. The audience will receive this large print as they leave Haldar’s Bol (Speak!)video installation as a moment of meditation and as a mirroring of the trauma exposed in both works.

Wendy Red Star is a multi-media artist based in Portland, Oregon who is of Crow Indian and Irish background. Red Star’s work explores the intersection between life on the Crow Indian reservation and the world outside of that environment. She thinks of herself as an Indigenous cultural archivist speaking sincerely about the experience of being Crow in contemporary society. Red Star’s contribution to Myth of Fishes is the photographic series, The Four Seasons that are staged self-portraits of the artist using artificial costumerie and landscapes as well as symbolic references to indigeneity.

Jennifer Stillwell is a contemporary Canadian sculpture and installation artist based in Victoria, BC. Stillwell’s artistic practice comments on Canadian landscape and labour, often utilizing domestic and industrial techniques. Stillwell’s sculpture, A Piece of Turf, included here in Myth of Fishes, is a hand-hooked rug whose weave is based upon natural grass patterns derived from architectural design. This textile piece takes on the architectural cues and the humourist qualities among the group exhibition, consequently interacting with the interventionist work by Holly Ward within the physical space among the two-dimensional works and video installation included.

Holly Ward is a Vancouver, Berlin and Heffley Creek-based interdisciplinary artist working in sculpture, multi-media installation, architecture, video and drawing as means to examine the role of aesthetics in the formation of new social realities. Her Myth of Fishes gallery intervention and installation, Island, is a large pile of soil that must be moved by gallery staff and volunteers once a week for the duration of the exhibition. Stemming from research into various visionary practices such as utopian philosophy, science fiction literature, Visionary Architecture, counter-cultural practices and urban planning, Ward’s work investigates the arbitrary nature of signs, and the value of forms in both personal and public contexts.

An aggregate of all the works mentioned, Myth of Fishes is a woven whole comprised of collective vision, bound by each of the artists’ practices and conceptual logic, through which the past and present collapse onto each other, reflecting, refracting, fueled by the warp and weft of what we have come to know and unknow of “nature”. Within the gallery space, the female is extolled as natural, simulation, (un)controllable, irrevocably linked with politics and social convention. Myth of Fishes heeds the necessary call for change in our current environmental and civil rights situation in Canada. This exhibition reflects the call through creativity, exposing the cynical, the blunt, and the nuanced truths from eight artists. The core question of the human-nature relationship as interpreted through a feminist perspective, mirrors a recurrent discourse in contemporary art at large, and corresponds to the overall focus of the gallery’s program.

Sponsored by Denise Mitchell Interiors

Exhibition Statement available digitally and in print

Myth of Fishes is curated by Julia Prudhomme

Earlier Event: November 19
Territoires partagés / Shared Lands
Later Event: February 3
Mois Multi 2016: Recto Verso