Friday, September 14, 2012
arts & entertainment
Richmond Review · Page 15
Liberty Lost (from the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto), 2010.
Artists offer frank ‘conversations’ Richmond Art Gallery hosts first Western Canada exhibition for Toronto photo-based artists
1985, the collapse of the cod fishery in 1994, and the financial crisis of 2008.”
by Matthew Hoekstra Staff Reporter
hey’re quite unlike idyllic Steveston sunsets or peaceful park portraits.
Simply put, the photographs of Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge hardly illicit glances. With striking images chockablock with messages, the photography of the Toronto artists is more likely to attract full-on stares. The duo is set to unveil their works for the first time in Western Canada—right here at Richmond Art Gallery—in an exhibition called Open Conversations: The Art Practice of Carole Condé + Karl Beveridge. Their photo-based art practice is 35 years in the making, involving diverse communities and trade unions in such a way their subjects become participants in their work. The result— photographs that probe social, cultural and political issues that have formed the basis of 50 exhibitions at major museums and art spaces on four continents. Open Conversations features work that dates to 1975—when the artists began collaborating.
A portrait of photography artists Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge, who are presenting their work at an exhibition opening Saturday at Richmond Art Gallery.
And Condé and Beveridge added a uniquely Richmond twist to their exhibition. In June, the artists worked with Richmond Cultural Centre’s groups to create a new photonarrative piece focusing on cultural work. Subjects were also participants. The show’s public opening reception, Saturday, Sept. 15 from 3 to 5 p.m. will be attended by Carole Condé and curator Scott Marsden. What will viewers see in this exhibition? Condé: “With the exception of a series of drawings that portray the two of us in conversation about the art world in 1975, the works are photographic narratives that look at the experience and concerns of working people: from women organizing a union in 1980, to nuclear power workers in
Why the title, Open Conversations? Beveridge: “Our projects are based on conversations and workshops with the people that they are about. For example, the work Public Matters (at Richmond Cultural Centre), involved conversations with each of the participants, a workshop in which visual ideas were discussed and finally each of them played themselves in the final image along with actors who played the public characters. They are ‘open’ conversations because the process is one of collaboration…” Your work attempts to bridge working people and those in the arts. How has this divide changed since you began in the ‘80s? Condé: “At the beginning of the 1980’s the arts were seen as something outside most working people’s experience or interest. For the most part, art did not reflect their experience or beliefs; it had little to do with them. While this has not been overcome, there has been a significant shift in this position. For one, there is an understanding of cultural production as work—work that is underpaid and undervalued. There is an understanding that there are alternative forms of expression that do reflect people’s experience.” How much push-back have you received from subjects believing they don’t measure up to what art is? Beveridge: “I wouldn’t say there is push-back. Often there is a sense in which people don’t see
Open Conversations: The Art Practice of Carole Condé + Karl Beveridge •Sept. 15 to Nov. 10 at Richmond Art Gallery •Opening reception is Saturday, Sept. 15 from 3 to 5 p.m. Artist talk will be held prior to opening, at 2 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public •Gallery is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (until 9 p.m. Thursdays) and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends what they do as deserving artistic attention. This comes from the idea that art is about genius and ‘worthy’ subjects. It also comes from the fact that what people do is not socially valued—that it’s just a job and not worthy of representation. On the other hand people have a strong sense of pride in what they do...but it is a pride that is seldom recognized.” You suggest it’s important to portray the lives and experiences of working people, so who is your work for? Condé: “We see what we do as addressed to two audiences: the arts and working people or the larger public. Both are a challenge. In the arts it’s to present a different model of working and relating to an audience or community. In terms of working people, it’s to suggest not only that their experiences are important… but that art and culture should engage the communities in which they are made.”
September 14, 2012 edition of the Richmond Review