Throughout the spring season of 2018, 221A hosts sum of the parts, a curatorial research project by Jenn Jackson which brings together a selection of films, performances and installations by artists who activate personal histories which are drawn from familial and public record. Artists Deanna Bowen, Felix Kalmenson, Divya Mehra, Krista Belle Stewart, and Casey Wei, present compelling excavations of the past, by drawing from familial, historic, and archival sources—visualizing narratives of race and class, and their recognition within official records.
Each film and performance provides a framework for a larger narrative of archival complexities—offering a visual key to examine discourses on the commodification and construction of historic record in relation to the business of archival storage, preservation, and dissemination within the public realm. In mining the potential of the private and public archive, these artists interrogate the visual and material nature of historical reference and activate immaterial records. Events and research associated with sum of the parts will be hosted at Pollyanna 圖書館 Library, among other venues. For the duration of the program, a library collection holding books and other documents selected by the various contributors and collaborators involved in the project is available for public reference. Further details for this series are listed at http://221a.ca/sum-of-the-parts
- Jenn Jackson is a curator and writer who lives and works in Vancouver, BC. She previously held positions at the Alberta College of Art and Design; Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre; Satellite Art Gallery; The Rennie Collection; Presentation House Gallery; the Art Gallery of Alberta and Colour Magazine. Jackson studied Critical and Cultural Practices at Emily Carr University; General Fine Arts at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and is an MA Art History candidate at the University of British Columbia.
- Divya Mehra works in sculpture, print, drawing, artist books, installation, advertising, video, and film and is known for her meticulous attention to the interaction of form, medium, and site. Recontextualizing references found in music, literature, and current affairs, her acerbic body of work addresses the long-term effects of colonization and institutional racism. Mehra’s work has been presented as part of exhibitions, screenings, and commissions, including with Creative Time (New York), MoMA PS1 (New York), MTV (New York), the Queens Museum (New York), MASS MoCA (North Adams), Artspeak (Vancouver), Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (Toronto), the Images Festival (Toronto), the Beijing 798 Biennale (Beijing), Bielefelder Kunstverein (Bielefeld), and Latitude 28 (Delhi). In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award. Mehra holds an MFA from Columbia University and is represented by Georgia Sherman Projects.
- Krista Belle Stewart’s work engages with the complexities of archival material through processes that allow for both intimacy and coincidence and for the atemporal meeting of actors across time. Working with video, photography, design, ephemera and textiles, Stewart straddles the gaps between personal and institutional histories through transparent mediation. Recent installations have focused on the works of geometric abstractionist Leon Polk Smith (1906–1996), a well-regarded figure in the New York art world whose Indigenous heritage was not a contributing factor in his work, or even his biography.
- Felix Kalmenson (b. 1987, Saint Petersburg, Russia) is a ‘rootless cosmopolitan’ whose practice navigates installation, video and performance. Kalmenson’s work variably narrates the liminal space of a researcher’s and an artist’s encounter with landscape and archive. By bearing witness to everyday life, and hardening the more fragile vestiges of private and collective histories through their work, Kalmenson gives themselves away to the cadence of a poem, always in flux.
- Casey Wei is an interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker, and musician based in Vancouver. Her practice has evolved from filmmaking (Murky Colors in 2012, Vater und Sohn / Father and Son / 父与子 in 2013), into works that cross over between art, music, and the community at large (Kingsgate Mall Happenings in 2014, Chinatown Happenings in 2015, the art rock? series 2015-present, and the Karaoke Music Video Free Store in 2017). In 2016, she began Agony Klub, a music and printed matter label that releases material under the framework of the “popular esoteric”. Her music projects include Kamikaze Nurse, hazy, and Late Spring. She is currently working on a documentary about the Vancouver music scene.
- Deanna Bowen (b. 1969, Oakland; lives in Toronto) is a descendant of the Alabama and Kentucky born Black Prairie pioneers of Amber Valley and Campsie, Alberta. Bowen’s family history has been the central pivot of her auto-ethnographic interdisciplinary works since the early 1990s. Her broader artistic/educational practice examines history, historical writing and the ways in which artistic and technological advancements impact individual and collective authorship. She has received several awards in support of her artistic practice including a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2014 William H. Johnson Prize. Her work has been exhibited internationally in numerous film festivals and museums, including the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, the Images Festival, Flux Projects, the Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax.