236 Pender St East,
13 Oct 2023–10 Feb 2024
12 October, 2023
T. +1 604.683.7395
13 February–03 March 1990
Curated by: Nancy Shaw
Revision, Susan Kealy’s installation at the Or Gallery, is made up of a rear-screened film loop and a static projected image. The film sequence, which depicts a bright light shining into an eye and traveling across the screen is, in fact, an optical print of an eye examination- the medical procedure that assesses visual acuity. The footage is derived from an offcut of a documentary film that was made about the artist in 1987 for a French TV series focussing on individuals who have had to face significant physical and social barriers (Kealy became visually impaired in 1985). Over the last few years she has been deconstructing specific gestures from these offcuts through calculated manipulation. By these exaggerated, silent re-representations of herself, Kealy questions constructions of female subjectivity and the realist project of traditional documentary. In the darkened gallery space, the eye, with its almost hypnotic repetition across the screen, becomes both object and spectator in relationship to the distorted static image of “The Red Maple” by A.Y. Jackson. The compulsive movement of the eye coupled with its relationship to the spectator and the A.Y. Jackson slide complicate the habitual circuit of viewing particularly in a gallery setting.
As a member of the Group of Seven, Jackson’s work has come to be read as an iconographic symbol of the Canadian landscaped and of Canadian art practice by the general public both here and abroad. The projected slide, itself a reproduction, has been copied from an archival slide typical of those used for instructional purposes by art institutions, a practice further alluded to by the frame of the film screen which recalls a blackboard. While various postmodern practitioners have dealt with the art historical legacy left by European painting, few have reflected on the impact and influence of Canadian schools, such as the Group of Seven.
Kealey’s strategy of layering and reproducing images meant for cultural consumption is one of Brechtian distanciation which “liberates the viewer from the state of being captured by the illusions of art which encourages passive identification with fictional worlds.”
Similarly, Brailleography, a public art project consisting of a series of aluminum braille plaques, encourages an awareness of issues relating to language, audience, access and representation. The plaques, which are installed outside culturla institutions, are inscribed with either ART, ACCESS, CULTURE or PRIVILEDGE. Brailleography was first Awareness Week which seeks to promote awareness and support for the integration of people with visible or invisible impairments within institutional structures. While Kealey’s interes stems in part from the fact that she is legally blind, this site specific work raises questions about the relationship of braille to official signage, the representation of language by the Roman alphabet and this project’s relationship to mapping processes in terms of topography, geography, and typography.
Griselda Pollock- Vision & Difference- Femininity, Feminism and the Histories of Art. p. 163, Routtledge, 1988
Kealey will mount her plaques at the following Vancouver venues:
Artspeak- 311 West Hastings
Charles H. Scott- Emily Carr college of Art & Design
Contemporary Art Gallery – 333 Hamilton
Grunt Gallery- 209 E. 6th Ave.
Kootenay School of Writing- 152 W. Hastings
MacEwen Arts – 331 W. Pender
Or Gallery – 314 W. Hastings
Perel Gallery – 115 W. Hastings
Pitt international Galleries – 36 Powell
Presentation House – 333 Chesterfield North Vancouver
Proprioception Books – 709- 207 W. Hastings
The Western Front – 303 E. 8th Avenue
UBC Fine Arts Gallery – 1965 Main Mall, UBC
Video Inn- 1102 Homer Street
Vancouver Art Gallery – 750 Hornby
Women in Focus – 849 Beatty