Always Working

Didier Courbot, Jamie Hilder, David Horvitz, Kelly Mark, Carey Young

Curated by Gabrielle Moser

23 Jun to 28 Jul 2012

Opening Reception: Friday, June 22, 8-11 pm

Panel Discussion: Saturday, June 23, 3 pm

No Reading After the Internet reading salon: Wednesday, June 27, 7 pm

For one dollar David Horvitz will think about you for one minute. 

Access Gallery is pleased to present Always Working, a group exhibition that explores the relationship between artistic labour and the politics of everyday life. Featuring works by Didier Courbot (Paris), Jamie Hilder (Vancouver), David Horvitz (New York), Kelly Mark (Toronto) and Carey Young (London), the show examines the repetitive tasks and excessive labour used by artists to activate work as a space for social critique and political action.

Although the merging of art with everyday life was a goal of the twentieth century avant-garde, in recent years this integration has been achieved through the globalization of the economy, where forms of affective labour, such as care-giving, lifestyle coaching or relationship counselling, are now legitimate forms of work that require monetary compensation. Always Working questions this shift and proposes that useless and excessive forms of artistic labour might offer a position of political resistance to these trends. Whether using laborious methods in the production of their works, or assuming the role of the worker in their performances, videos and installations, the artists in Always Working prioritize useless labour: work that cannot be “put to work” in order to participate in the global economy.

For several artists in the exhibition, work involves assuming and exceeding the role of the everyday labourer, such as Carey Young’s video documenting her presentation of free, “how to” advice on public speaking in London’s Speakers’ Corner, or David Horvitz’s offer to stop what he’s doing and devote one minute to thinking about you in exchange for one dollar. For others, making artistic labour visible, both in and outside the studio, is a key concern, as in Kelly Mark’s artist contracts with Canadian galleries which have been renegotiated so that her work is renumerated according to the hourly minimum wage (an amount that is always higher than the CARFAC-suggested artist fee). Similarly, Didier Courbot’s photographic series captures his ongoing interventions meant to fulfil practical urban “needs,” such as painting in a crosswalk on a busy street, or installing a birdhouse on a streetlamp: a project he will expand on through performance and photographic works made during an artist residency in Vancouver. Finally, Jamie Hilder’s impersonation of a “downtown ambassador,” who provides tourists with an alternative history of the city focused on its management of the appearance of poverty, and his subsequent arrest by Vancouver police, suggest that there is something radical and even dangerous about the kind of “work” that art can do.

In tandem with the exhibition, Didier Courbot will conduct a one-month residency in Vancouver where he will create new performance-based works as part of his ongoing “needs” series. Courbot's residency is part of  an ongoing residency program for French visual artists initiated by the Consulate General of France in Vancouver.

Didier Courbot (Paris, France) works with a range of media—sculpture, video, photography—to document the urban environment with an extraordinary sensitivity. His recreations of specific elements and his subtle interventions draw attention to the forgotten and discarded. Courbot has been included in exhibitions at the Jeu de Paume, Paris; the Moscow Museum of Art; the Kunsthalle Bern; the 2005 Yokohama Triennale; and Susan Hobbs Gallery, Toronto, among others.

Jamie Hilder (Vancouver, Canada) is a Vancouver-based artist and critic whose work engages performance and social critique. His work has appeared in solo exhibitions at Artspeak Gallery and Charles H. Scott Gallery. A recent Fulbright student at Stanford University, Hilder completed his doctoral dissertation on the International Concrete Poetry Movement at the University of British Columbia in 2010. He is presently a post-doctoral researcher in the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences at UCLA.

David Horvitz (New York City)’s practice spans photography, performance, sculpture, and print media. Recurring interests across these disciplines include attention to strategies of information circulation and the impermanence of digital artifacts. His work has been exhibited at the Tate Modern, London; the New Museum, New York; Galerie West, Holland; and the Wattis Institute, San Francisco, among many other venues.

Kelly Mark (Toronto, Canada) has always had an intense preoccupation with the differing shades of pathos and humour found in everyday life. Hidden in the repetitive mundane tasks, routines and rituals of contemporary culture, she finds startling moments of poetic individuation. She has exhibited widely across Canada, and internationally at venues including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montreal; and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham UK. Mark represented Canada at the Liverpool Biennale in 2006 and the Sydney Biennale in 1998.

Carey Young (London, UK) considers a number of intriguing parallels between the conceptual principles of contemporary art and the new-model paradigms of 21st-century business. In a wide-ranging, multiform practice that encompasses video and photography, as well as a variety of other media, Young has exhibited her work at galleries including the ICA, London; the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; the Hayward Gallery, London; Kunstverein Munich; Mass MOCA, Massachusetts; and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Gabrielle Moser (Toronto, Canada) is a writer and curator. She regularly contributes to, and her writing has appeared in venues including ARTnews, Canadian Art, Fillip, n paradoxa, and Photography & Culture. She has curated exhibitions for Vtape, Xpace, the Leona Drive Project, and Gallery TPW. She is a PhD student in art history and visual culture at York University, where she also teaches.

Public Programming and related events:

Panel Discussion: Work is All Over

Saturday, June 23, 3 pm, Access Gallery

Join exhibiting artists Didier Courbot and Jamie Hilder, curator Gabrielle Moser and members of the Lower Mainland Painting Company as they discuss the political work that might be accomplished by art that engages with conditions of its own production. What kind of work is contemporary art expected to do in the current political climate? What happens when artists refuse or exceed these expectations? And, how can artistic labour be activated as a space for social critique and political action?

No Reading After the Internet: Hito Steyerl’s “Politics of Art”

Wednesday, June 27, 7 pm, Access Gallery

In tandem with Always Working, curator Gabrielle Moser co-facilitates a meeting of No Reading After the Internet, an out-loud reading group organized by Alex Muir and VIVO. Focusing on artist Hito Steyerl’s 2010 e-flux essay, “Politics of Art: Contemporary Art and the Transition to Post-Democracy,” the group will discuss the text’s call for an art that examines the politics of its own production and its relation to the works in the exhibition. No Reading After the Internet is a monthly opportunity to gather and read a text aloud in hopes that it might provoke theoretical illumination on particular art works, or the broader scape within which such work exists.

Always Working is supported by the Consulate General of France in Vancouver, the Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council, City of Vancouver, our members and volunteers. Access is a member of the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres.