Let’s talk about artists who think about possible futures – who look at the histories, customs, and norms that have shaped the way we do things – and dare to do things differently. How can the objects or materials that are available today help us to envision how we want tomorrow to look?

Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, The Highest and Best Use and Improve (2017), from Four Effigies for the End of Property, mixed media, photo credit: Scott Massey


A disclaimer: none of these artists are photographers – at least not mainly. But I still think there are some interesting points to be made here. First up is Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill. Way back before The Polygon Gallery, a shipbuilding company used to occupy this lot of land. It was called the Versatile Shipyards, and it went bankrupt in 1992. At that time, a lot of objects from the shipyards were donated as artefacts to the North Vancouver Museum and Archives. Last year, the Museum donated some of these objects to Gabrielle Hill, who made four abstract sculptures that can be found throughout this exhibition.

That’s an interesting journey: these objects were industrial materials when the shipyards were here, and now they’ve returned to this place as artworks in the new gallery. It makes me wonder: what if we were to research future plans in community, and try to visualise what these proposed or potential changes might look like?


Holly Ward, Raw Goods, 2017, installation view, photo credit: Scott Massey


Holly Ward’s work, titled Raw Goods, does something similar. For this piece, she’s borrowed sulphur and coal from the terminals along the foreshore. The sulphur piles are out near the Lions Gate Bridge in the west; the coal comes from near the Second Narrows Bridge in the east. Now, these materials are always in transit, so Holly wants to see what happens when we add The Polygon Gallery to their itinerary. Here, in this space, what happens? The materials transform not physically, but culturally. Raw goods become mediums; piles become sculptures. It’s an interesting look at the special status we give to objects in an art exhibition – even if they are literally piles of sulphur and coal.


The Bigger Picture: Babak Golkar

N_Vancouver-38Babak Golkar, the Exchange Project, installation view, photo credit: Scott Massey


Babak Golkar’s work reimagines something pretty huge: economy, and value. How do artworks get their economic or cultural value? A whole lot of factors decide this, but Babak Golkar wants to get away from these uncontrollable and sometimes random forces. He started this project called The Exchange, and it’s basically bartering. Without any concern for market value, Babak gives one of his work to a fellow artist, and that artist gives one work to Babak. Here, we see three pairs of photographs. Each pair shows one of Babak’s works in the other artist’s home or studio, and the other artist’s work in Babak’s – here in North Vancouver.

Think about what you’d change about society if you had the power. What would you do differently? Or what are some transformations you’d like to see?