Christian Kliegel, Ed Pien, Alison MacTaggart

20 Jan to 25 Feb 2012


Access has been a vital space for emerging artists for the past twenty years. In celebration of this, we’ve invited past artists to engage with works they originally presented at Access. Now well-known local, national, and international artists, Christian Kliegel, Ed Pien, and Alison MacTaggart will produce new work launching from the ideas and concerns found earlier in their career. The exhibition will be comprised of three successive installations.

Alison MacTaggart: February 14th – 25th, 2012

Closing Reception: Friday February 24th 8-11pm

In 2002, Alison MacTaggart’s Access exhibition, The Egg Throwing Apparatus explored the symbolic gesture of being named called or called out to in the social realm. Creating egg throwing projectile machines and a series of abstract watercolours resembling smashed eggs, explosions and nerve cells her exhibition gave physical and sculptural presence to a theoretical discussion of linguistics, the act of coming out, and the paradox of being made visible.

Since her original exhibition, MacTaggart has continued to develop playful apparatus dealing with these strands. For New Work MacTaggart presents a recent project entitled You and I: Methods and Embodiments for One Tuning-Fork-Like Apparatus or More. This particular installation builds on past works including The Egg Throwing Apparatus and The Nerve.

You and I… emerges from the artist’s ongoing concerns with the power of language and speech and with making conceptual art objects that appear to be mechanically purposeful devices. This new work also draws parallels between art objects and inventions, artists and inventors and their quests to devise solutions to problems and ideas.

You and I… includes a series of illustrations with text, and two prototypes: Prototype A (the outdoor version) and Prototype B (the indoor version). Viewers are welcome to examine Prototype B, which is included in the exhibit but are not allowed to operate it. The artwork does “function” but the intent is for this function to operate within its constructed state of potential and promise. With that said, MacTaggart makes such objects to engage viewers in the process of looking and imagining, rather than physical participation, in order to “activate” the artwork.

The illustrations that accompany the prototype “instruct” and direct viewers to imagine a metaphorical purpose for the tuning-fork-like apparatus and its two different embodiments. Complete with a written abstract, diagrammatic drawings, descriptions and naming of the prototypes and their parts, the visuals help “explain” to the viewer how the prototypes “work”.

MacTaggart’s installation incorporates elements of both humour and seriousness in order to simultaneously engage and unsettle the viewer. The resulting works in the exhibit make “vibratory” references to harmony and discordance, pitch, tone, elastic potential energy, and other forces and effects. They promise an encounter between the viewer(s) and the artwork, the viewer and his or herself, and the viewer and the artist by way of the artwork.


Alison MacTaggart is a Vancouver-based artist and educator. She completed an MFA at York University, a BFA at Simon Fraser University and a Diploma in Visual Arts at Camosun College in Victoria. Prior to completing her MFA she was awarded the City of Vancouver Artist Live/Work Studio from 2000 to 2003 during which time she completed The Egg Throwing Apparatus, which was exhibited at Access Gallery in 2002. She has received awards and grants from the BC Arts Council, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts. She currently teaches in the Fine Arts Department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, BC. Recent exhibitions include Promising Objects (Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC, 2011), Promising Objects (University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Lethbridge, AB, 2010), Game Show (Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey, BC, 2010), and You and I (Ministry of Casual Living, Victoria, BC, 2008). In 2012, she is participating in the group exhibition Throw Down at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Past installations at New Work included:

Ed Pien: January 29th – February 11th, 2012


Within the darkened space, a series of video close-up CGI porn and blue coloured lights slowly glide across the gallery walls.  The video projections are reflected from a cluster of suspended and revolving oval mirrors and plexiglass.  Entitled BLUE, this media-based work responds to The Blue Room, a drawing installation that was presented at the Access Gallery in 1995.  In the earlier work, a series of 8.5 x 11 inch blue ink drawings, inspired by male porn images, covered an entire wall.

The Blue Room was conceived as an immersive installation.  Upon entering the 1995 installation, viewers first confronted a floor to ceiling veil of transparent blue gauze.  This visual and physical barrier imposed the sense of a forbidden and transgressive space.  Beyond the sheer curtain, hundreds of raw images consume the main wall.  A band of mirrors, placed at the base of the wall created the illusion of a deep trench. Through this mirroring effect, the viewer encountered an illusionary drop into the floor where the drawings extend, seemingly submerged deeply into the ground.

In response to Blue Room, BLUE depicts computer-generated images of ideal male bodies engaging in various sex acts.  These beings, digitally constructed and programmed, act out fantasy and desire. The stylized CGI forms robotically maneuvering through sexual acts become abstracted via Pien’s cropping and de-saturation of colour. Projected across mirror and plexi ovals, these forms float across the gallery as disembodied ghostly figures, void of essential human traits. Combined with this not quite human presence, optical play, movement and shadow extend the sense of unease.  Further complicating the viewing, an image of The Blue Room exhibition momentarily materializes, disrupting the present time and space.  When it appears, The Blue Room’s spectrality plays off the tromp l’oeil created by the band of mirrors placed on the floor in the original installation.

Expanding beyond the original installation, BLUE is informed by robotics professor Masahiro Mori’s concept of the uncanny valley. Coined by Mori in the early 1970s, the uncanny valley is based on a dip in a hypothesized graph charting emotional responses to the development of human attributes within robots. Specifically, his hypothesis proposes that as the appearance of a robot is made more human, a human observer's emotional response to the robot will become increasingly positive and empathic, but at a certain point that response quickly becomes one of revulsion. However, as the robot's appearance continues to become less distinguishable from that of a human being, the emotional response becomes positive once more. The uncanny valley captures the idea that an almost human-looking robot will seem overly "strange" producing a feeling of uncanniness, and will thus fail to evoke empathic responses. The anthropomorphizing of CGI avatars and robots provokes questions regarding our own physical self, accentuating the differences and similarities we share with man-made entities. Pien’s installation evokes our uneasy relation with virtual reality as well as it’s pleasurable yet alienating quality, forcing us to question our own physical bodies within a seemingly growing world of human facsimiles.

Ed Pien has exhibited nationally and internationally including the Drawing Centre, New York; La Biennale de Montreal 2000 and 2002; W139, Amsterdam; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Middlesbrough Art Gallery, the UK; Centro Nacional e las Artes, Mexico City; The Contemporary Art Museum in Monterrey, Mexico; the Goethe Institute, Berlin; Bluecoat, Liverpool; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; as well as the National Art Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

Most recently, Pien was invited to participate in the 2012 Sydney Biennial.

Christian Kliegel: January 20th – 27th, 2012

On view until Friday January 27, 2012, Christian Kliegel reinvents a past work, offering a new and engaging installation physically unfamiliar with, and conceptually different from the original.

"Not, tellingly, recreation, or restaging, or remaking, but reinvention. To my ear reinvention places a challenge on the table. It is an admonishment against nostalgia. A reinvention cannot be slavish imitation; it cannot offer the past as it once was. A reinvention is a way of thinking about time and history. A reinvention does not see the activities of the past as encased in resin, or clinging like barnacles to the hull of a large ship. A reinvention solicits curiosity. A reinvention is not objective; it is a call for interpretation. A reinvention is a question about what ideas from the past might mean in the present, and it wants those ideas to be useful, helpful, maybe even critical. A reinvention is ruthless, it asks the past to be more then a well-rehearsed story, …- Helen Molesworth

In 2006, Access presented Christian Kliegel’s Gloom, Boom, and Doom. Kliegel developed a collapsed sculptural installation in the main gallery using materials found in the Access space, (including a gallery wall that he dismantled) altering the overall design of the gallery through its completion. Engaged with the idea of reinvention as promoted by American artist Allan Kaprow and later by curator Helen Molesworth, Kliegel’s current one week installation reinvents his original 2006 project as a new work that evokes the past project, yet is completely unlike the original.

The new installation, highlighting this dialogue concerning reinvention takes inspiration from Kaprow and his seminal work Environment Yard. Presented in New York City in 1961, Kaprow produced a mountain of black rubber car tires and tarpaper-wrapped forms through which visitors jumped and crawled.

For his new installation entitled Room, Kliegel plans to fill the entire gallery with used car tires. Kliegel is interested in the transformation of the material while it undergoes a change in use value, The tires, on loan from a rubber recycling plant, are on their way to be shredded, to be assigned a new function. Once a vehicle for transportation, the tires will rest in the gallery and assume another temporary function. Kliegel is interested in the way sculptural work can inhabit a gallery space, even swallow it up whole. The material is essentially a garbage pile, transformed into a sculpture. In 2006, the gallery architecture supported the sculpture. With this new installation the sculpture supports and alters the gallery whole. The shredded paper in the 2006 installation was in transition from implied value to material value. Commodity was inscribed onto it. Similarly, the tires are undergoing that transformation but in reverse.

Access Gallery gratefully acknowledges 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.