The Voyage, or Three Years at Sea Part I is an exhibition that takes the lighthouse as its subject matter. The artworks are displayed alongside historic objects and archival images, together presenting the viewer with insight into the realities of life for a lighthouse keeper. The artists Rodney Graham and Tacita Dean send this message by creating images that are filled with information yet focus on a few central elements.

Tacita Dean’s Disappearance at Sea (1996) is a 16 mm colour film, a horizontal projection, installed in a dark gallery. The film’s focus is the interior of a lighthouse beacon, its rotating light bulbs and glass lenses. Light streams through this glass as it moves, hypnotizing the viewer with its rhythmic movement, overlaid by a soundtrack of crashing waves and seagull calls.

In the adjacent gallery, Rodney Graham’s brightly lit interior photograph Lighthouse Keeper with Lighthouse Model, 1955 (2010) is a photographic dyptich composed of two large-scale lightboxes. Staged and shot like a film set, this work presents the artist as lighthouse keeper, seated in his small quarters, feet up, perusing a book. It is a night scene, and under a harsh lamp light we see a room filled with personal items and activities to help pass the time, as the lighthouse keeper patiently waits for work to begin the next day.

These artworks are related yet distinct; each capturing a point of view that invites the viewer to experience a time and place that has passed. This exhibition is on view at the Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr University, January 19-February 20, 2011.

Rodney Graham, Lighthouse Keeper with Lighthouse Model, 1955, 2010