Twenty-Three Days at Sea: A Travelling Artist Residency

Fri 05 Dec 2014 12:59AM

Twenty-three Days at Sea: A Travelling Artist Residency

Access Gallery with Burrard Arts Foundation and Contraste agence d’art

curated by Kimberly Phillips


“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

In December 2014, Access Gallery—in partnership with Burrard Arts Foundation and Contraste agence d’art—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, as we began to review these proposals, 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, compel us now to expand our initial parameters. We have, therefore, selected four outstanding emergent artists to embark on Twenty-Three Days at Sea in 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.”

In May 2015, Access Gallery, Burrard Arts Foundation and Contraste agence d’art will launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to support this more ambitious program, with the conviction that offering further artists this unique opportunity will afford a far richer, more complex set of creative responses to a simultaneously simple and yet profoundly complex journey.

We are honoured to announce that the inaugural residents for Twenty-three Days at Sea are as follows:

Nour Bishouty

Born in Jordan and currently based in Beirut, Lebanon, Nour Bishouty holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Her practice, which takes shape through installations, images, objects, and text, explores ways that narrative can be wound to fabricate connectivity. Recent work has focused on examining the meanings of belonging or affiliation and its peculiar relationship to place. She is particularly interested in the possibility of a “neutral space” and the implications of producing artwork therein.

Christopher Boyne

Christopher Boyne works from impressions, sentiment, and remembered matter, in a practice that is driven by Williams Carlos Williams’ dictum, “no ideas but in things.” He uses photography (both moving and still) and sculpture to consider how fleeting experience can be distilled through recall into form, and understands his work to function like storytelling, stimulating nostalgia, reflection, reminiscence, and regret. Born in Halifax and now based in Montreal, Boyne is a graduate of Concordia’s MFA program.

Elisa Ferrari

Born in Italy and based in Vancouver, Elisa Ferrari’s practice aims to uncover disparities between historical documentation and experience, and frequently asks how everyday activities become articulated tactics that might enable critiques of institutional power. She works with archival fragments of text, image, and videography to consider the act and implications of retrieval, in projects that manifest through installation, performance, sound, and photography. Ferrari is a graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design’s MAA program. Since 2013 she has served as Events and Exhibitions Curator at VIVO Media Arts Centre and as member of the Crista Dahl Media Library and Archive Committee.

Amaara Raheem

Sri Lankan born, and now based between Melbourne, Australia, and London, UK, Amaara Raheem is an in(ter)dependent choreographer, video, and dance artist. Feeding off her own experience of in-betweenness, Raheem’s practice investigates the ethics and aesthetics of mobility, placing language, objects, and movement in parallel, in order to embody flux. Currently a PhD Candidate in the School of Architecture and Design, RMIT Melbourne, Raheem is ultimately interested in questioning the coherence of systems that humans create to “know” the world around them, creating arrangements that offer uncertainty, play, and new possibilities.


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 the "DONATE" page on our website.

To follow resident updates and announcements, please see the Twenty-Three Days at Sea facebook page.


Established as an artist-run centre in 1991, Access Gallery is a platform for emergent and experimental art practices. We enable critical conversations and risk taking through new configurations of audience, artists and community. Access gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and BC Gaming, the City of Vancouver, The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, the Michael Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts, and our committed donors, members and volunteers. Access Gallery is a member of the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres.
The mission of the Burrard Arts Foundation (BAF) is to promote the development of, and excellence in, the visual arts in Canadaaccomplished through innovative art projects and programs. BAF seeks to advance the understanding and appreciation of the Arts in Vancouver by showcasing local and global artistic talent and dialogue from the creative minds of today and tomorrow in dynamic ways, and within the publics grasp. Our objective is to provide opportunities that enable artists to produce their work and share it with the World.
Contraste Art Agency works to promote a greater awareness, appreciation and understanding of contemporary Canadian art internationally, by facilitating its dissemination abroad. We work with artists, galleries, museums, festivals and governments to produce exhibitions, artist residencies, discussions, workshops, exchanges and other cultural education vehicles which promote good will and expand the cultural exchange between Canada and countries around the world.

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