Twenty-Three Days at Sea is an unconventional travelling artist residency, produced by Access Gallery in partnership with the Burrard Arts Foundation and the Contemporary Art Gallery, offering selected emergent visual artists passage aboard cargo ships sailing from Vancouver to Shanghai. Crossing the Pacific takes approximately 23 days, during which time the artists are considered “in residence” aboard the vessels. This program offered us the opportunity to ask an important set of questions relevant to our own socio-political coordinates as culture-makers in a major port city on the Pacific Rim: How can art responsibly bring visibility to systems within which we are implicated, but which we neither see clearly nor fully understand? How might this residency draw attention to and query romanticism about the role of the artist as “witness”? What is the role of artist residencies in today’s increasingly peripatetic and globalized art world? What does risk mean in artistic practice today?
Twenty-Three Days at Sea, Chapter Two presents new bodies of work produced by the second group of residency artists in response to their time spent on the open sea. While diverse in their treatment of both media and subject matter, each of these exceptional artists’ practices is marked by a perceptible state of seeking. Their works on exhibition do not directly convey their experiences on the cargo vessels, but rather query the complexity of witnessing, explore the relationship of maritime song to labour, and consider our complicity in the global system of seaborne freight. This exhibition includes the launch of limited edition (hand-sewn, signed) reproductions of the logbooks each artist kept while at sea.
Michael Drebert’s artistic practice is founded on an intense curiosity with the natural world. An integral part of this work is to bear witness, or to simply be in the physical presence of particular geographies, animals, or plants. These encounters are essential to the conceptualizing of his work, and thus his research towards understanding the place gesture holds within art. Drebert, who lives and works in Vancouver, holds a BFA from Emily Carr University (2006) and an MFA from the University of Victoria (2010).
Lili Huston-Herterich employs a wide range of materials to produce interventions that generate narratives, which guide viewers’ paths through a given installation. Her work responds to specific spaces and the people in it. She is interested in shared experiences of space, and also the way personal experiences are transferred and preserved through oral, visual, and auditory methods of communication. Huston-Herterich obtained a BFA in Visual Arts and New Media from York University (2010) and is currently based in Rotterdam, where she is completing a MFA at Piet Zwart Institute.
Rebecca Moss stages interventions, stunts, experiments, and games within the landscape to create slapstick scenarios that the artist feels to have emotional and political potential. Drawing on Henri Bergson’s theories of the comedic, wherein comedy is understood to arise in moments of friction between a mechanical system and the nature into which it is inserted, Moss’ works aim to undermine any attempt at grandiosity or dominance. By reducing the body to another mere object, she argues, her work becomes suggestive of a reciprocal position in the world. Rebecca Moss holds a BA in Painting from the Camberwell College of Arts (2013), and is currently an MA candidate in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art. She lives and works in London, UK.
Sikarnt Skoolisariyaporn’s art practice cuts across mediums of moving image, performance, text, and installation, and explores notions of human and non-human history embedded in geological spacetime: the history of mankind as remembered by the earth and its landscape. Skoolisariyaporn studied at the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf (2013), holds a BA from Kingston University in London, UK (2012), and an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths at the University of London (2015). She lives and works in Dusseldorf and Bangkok.
Image Credit: Lili Huston-Herterich, logbook page (Twenty-Three Days at Sea), 2017. Pen on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
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. Further support has been generously provided by the Hamber Foundation. Crucial assistance in Asia is offered by China Residencies, 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, members, and volunteers.