23 Days at Sea

“The boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea… (it is a) great instrument of economic development, but has been simultaneously the greatest reserve of the imagination…” – Michel Foucault

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In December 2014, Access Gallery—in partnership with Burrard Arts Foundation—issued a call for submissions for a highly unconventional artist residency, offering selected emergent and experimental artists passage aboard cargo ships sailing from Vancouver to Shanghai. Crossing the Pacific Ocean takes approximately twenty-three days, during which time artists will be considered “in residence” aboard the vessel. As stated on the residency announcement, our intention was to select two candidates who would inaugurate this multi-year project by setting sail in late summer 2015. The response to this call was overwhelming. By deadline we had received over 800 proposals submitted by artists hailing from sites as far afield as Sevastopol, Lahore, Sao Paolo, and St. Petersburg. The calibre and strength of the submissions was striking, their ingenuity breathtaking. It was immediately clear that what we had initiated was not simply an artist residency, but a powerful framework through which to address the complexity of our contemporary condition. The cargo ship—sailing across a vast and “empty” space of the sea, nearly always invisible to those on shore and yet inextricably threaded through all our lives—seemed to offer a near bottomless container for the imagination, for narrative and for cultural critique.

The sheer diversity in artists’ proposals, and the breadth of creative queries, concerns and materials that might be brought to this sea voyage, compelled us to expand our initial parameters. In 2015, a jury of established art professionals in Vancouver selected four outstanding emergent artists to embark on Twenty-Three Days at Sea to mark its inaugural year. Diverse in their treatment of both media and subject matter, they are linked by the suppleness and strength of their past work and—of particular importance in this context—by practices defined by a perceptible and sustained state of “seeking.” The new bodies of work produced in response to their voyages, along with published reproductions of their logbooks kept while at sea, will be presented at Access Gallery from May 27 to July 16, 2016.

Twenty-Three Days at Sea has captured imaginations worldwide. You can support this innovative residency program and be a part of its vitality by contributing through our “Support by Donating” link. To follow resident updates and announcements, please visit the Twenty-Three Days at Sea facebook page.

We are now embarking on the second year of this residency project, which we envision now as a three-year curatorial initiative, punctuated by annual exhibitions and culminating in a major publication. Thank you to everyone who responded to our Call for Submissions for 2016-17! Proposals were due by midnight, PST, on February 15, 2016.

Twenty-Three Days at Sea: A Travelling Artist Residency is produced by Access Gallery in partnership with the Burrard Arts Foundation and the Contemporary Art Gallery. Partial sponsorship of the sea voyages is graciously offered by Reederei NSB, assistance in Asia by China Residencies and Art Contraste, and at the Port of Vancouver by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Access is grateful for the ongoing support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia government through the BC Arts Council and BC Gaming, the City of Vancouver, and our donors, sponsors, members and volunteers.

Listen to Director/Curator Kimberly Phillips, as well as resident artists Christopher Boyne, Elisa Ferrari, and Nour Bishouty speak about Twenty-three Days at Sea on Vancouver Co-op Radio:

Vancouver Co-op Radio – The Better World Show: July 18 2015

Vancouver Co-op Radio – The Better World Show: November 7 2015

Read coverage of Twenty-three Days at Sea by local and international press:

The Province: B.C. Artists Invited to Create on the Open Pacific

China Residencies: Interview with Elisa Ferrari

Vancouver Metro News: 23 Days at Sea

D-zine Trip: Artists Find Their Groove on a Slow Boat to China

China Daily: Artists Inspired on Cargo Trip to China

Vancouver Sun: Artists Spend 23 Days Crossing Pacific on Container Vessel

Vancity Buzz: Creative Cargo: Access Gallery’s Artistic Voyage

Scout Magazine: Christopher Boyne Print: Access Gallery

CBC: Vancouver is so Expensive Artists Live at Sea

Art Radar: 23 Days at Sea Residency Attracts Global Attention

Vancouver Courier: Artists at Sea for Unique Residency Program

Canadian Art : Gallery Puts Artists on Cargo Ships

Vancouver Sun : Access Gallery Chooses Residents for inaugural 23 Days at Sea



Burrard Arts Foundation
Contemporary Art Gallery
China Residencies