We need your help to expand a tremendously innovative artist residency, which sends emerging visual artists across the Pacific Ocean aboard cargo ships bound from Vancouver to Shanghai.
*** CAMPAIGN UPDATE! We're at 100% of our funding goal, but we're going to keep working hard until the last day of this campaign because with each extra dollar pledged, we are able to further strengthen this residency initiative and extend its reach. Enormous thanks to all of our supporters thus far! ***
About the Residency
“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
Twenty-Three Days at Sea offers selected visual artists passage aboard cargo ships sailing from Vancouver to Shanghai, a voyage that takes approximately 23 days. For the duration of the crossing, the artists will be considered “in residence” aboard the freighter vessel, an unconventional studio space in comparison with traditional residencies’ typical offerings of studio and living space in a static site. Each artist will keep a log of their experience while at sea (to be reproduced as published books at a later date), introduced to leading members of Shanghai’s art community, and will develop a new body of work in response to the voyage, to be exhibited at Access Gallery in the following months.
Sailing across a vast, “empty” space of the sea, nearly always invisible and yet foundational to our lives ashore, the cargo ship seems to offer a near bottomless container for the artistic imagination and for cultural critique. To quote the Vancouver-based poet and filmmaker Colin Browne, one of our residency’s staunchest supporters:
"When an artist goes to sea he or she will encounter new laws and a different sense of time and space, one that will challenge her and offer unimagined possibilities for re-conceiving the world. There will be excitement, mystery, boredom and discovery, and many hours on one’s own to read and reflect and meditate a few feet from the ocean swells and the flying fish. There will be time to imagine new possibilities for one’s work. There will be time to experiment, to immerse oneself—from the moment of waking until the moment of drifting off to sleep—in the consequences and demands of one’s own artistic practice. And, as Ishmael states in Moby Dick, ‘...as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.’”
The best residencies are ones that challenge an artist and provoke new thought that ultimately, challenges the rest of us. We believe Twenty-Three Days at Sea achieves this through an entirely simple, yet profoundly complex, ocean voyage.
Why Cargo Ships and Why Shanghai?
Vancouver’s expensive real estate market has made an impact on the city’s creative communities, resulting in a shortage of studio space and areas for artists to conduct residencies. Instead of allowing these constraints to stop us, we decided to leave terra firma, as it were, and design an inventive program that responds to this reality.
We chose a cargo ship as our residency setting because of who and where we are: in Vancouver, a major port city on the edge of the Pacific Rim, with many historical and contemporary links to Asia. The vast majority of raw resources and commodity objects travel around the world by sea, and yet despite its utter necessity, the global shipping industry remains highly invisible. With their vast container yards, today’s ports have become withdrawn from urban culture, and the sea is now, as the artist Allan Sekula famously stated, “a forgotten space.”
By quite literally embedding artists within this industry, we hope to render it visible again, and address the socio-political, poetical, and historical issues associated with sea travel and the Pacific Ocean. We also wanted to help artists create connections with the art community in China.
We know that the unique set of constraints imposed by Twenty-Three Days at Sea will have a major impact on the resident artists’ ideas and work, and offer a profoundly valuable challenge to them, early on in their careers.
Why do we need your help?
Like most artist-run centres in Canada, Access Gallery's operations and core programming are supported by federal, provincial and municipal grants, but major projects like Twenty-Three Days at Sea aren't covered by these public monies, which means we can only undertake and sustain them if we can fund them some other way.
When we launched the residency as a pilot program in January 2015, our intention was to select a single artist who would set sail in late summer 2015. But the response to our Call for Submissions was overwhelming. By deadline we had received nearly 900 proposals from artists around the world, hailing as far away as Sevastopol, Lahore, Sao Paolo, and St. Petersburg. It was immediately clear that what we had initiated was not simply an artist residency, but a powerful framework through which to address our contemporary condition.
We have raised the initial funds in order to send four artists to sea in 2015-16, but now we need your help to realize this residency as a multi-year program, so that more artists may experience this once-in-a-lifetime voyage and extend their discoveries to us onshore. As a three year project, Twenty-Three Days at Sea will culminate in a major publication and a large-scale, touring exhibition.
Because of this project's international relevance and reach, it seemed right to offer the widest possible community the opportunity to be a part of it's realization. Through Kickstarter, each of our supporters becomes part of this journey through regular updates, and can follow the unfolding of the residency artists' experiences every step of the way.
Our first residency artist, Elisa Ferrari, has just returned home from her voyage, and the next three are on their way...
Elisa Ferrari (b. Italy, based in Vancouver, Canada) departed for Shanghai on the MV Hanjin Ottawa on June 16, 2015. She just returned home on Friday, July 17, and here's some of what she has to say about this experience:
"Twenty-Three Days At Sea was a unique and privileged opportunity to witness the ongoing sociological and ecological impacts of the contemporary shipping industry and to rethink the relationship of art with economic imperatives such as the labour of seafarers, a mostly hidden and at times, romanticized category of workers."
Nour Bishouty (b. Jordan, based in Beirut, Lebanon), is next to depart, and will embark the MV Hanjin Brussels for Shanghai on August 4, 2015.
"I really can't wait for the moment to see horizon in every direction..."
- Christopher Boyne
Next up will be Christopher Boyne (b. Halifax, based in Montreal, Canada) who departs across the Pacific on September 8, 2015. Listen to Christopher speak about his excitement about the upcoming voyage, and what he anticipates will be most inspiring:
Amaara Raheem (b. Sri Lanka, based in Melbourne, Australia), will sail in April, 2016.
In exchange for your generous support, we have assembled a really wonderful selection of rewards, each of which has been hand chosen to reflect the project itself and the mandates of our organizations.
***An important note: if you live in Vancouver, and wish to pick up your reward at Access Gallery in Chinatown (ie. there's no shipping necessary), choose "Faroe Islands" from the shipping destinations, and you won't be charged anything. And hey, if you happen to live in the Faroe Islands and are backing our project, we'll happily ship your reward free of charge. :)
Four specially-selected visual artists, whose work we love so much, have produced unique artworks and limited edition prints just for this campaign, each of which conjures up the idea of a voyage at sea:VANESSA KWAN!
Vanessa Kwan is a Vancouver-based artist and curator. As an artist, her work has involved the production of work in public space, and is concerned with the limits and potential of bringing art practices into venues of diverse cultural and social contexts. Recent projects include a large-scale permanent public artwork, a series of public events and collaborations on the subject of melancholy, and Everything Between Open and Closed, a study of signs. She is a founding member of the performance collective Norma, who were honoured with a City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Public Art in 2011.
About the work, which is part of a larger project called Vancouver Family: "I sent a package to all the Kwans in Vancouver (there’s 300 of them). In a letter written in both Chinese and English I asked each Kwan to consider the question 'Is there a place you’d like to go, but have never been?,' write their response on a postcard I included (postage paid) and send the postcard back to me. Of the 300, I received 51 responses, ranging from brief ('Africa') to poetic ('I have never been to Egypt where pyramids line the skyline and dust roams the pathways.')." Kwan then re-traced the hand-written responses to create her own drawings.
Christopher Boyne, who is one of our four selected artists to take part in the inaugural year of Twenty-Three Days at Sea. He sets sail on the MV Hanjin Ottawa in September, 2015. 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.
We've just received the artist proof back from our amazingly meticulous printer, Scott August. Check out this beauty:
About the work: container ship is one of a number of drawings in ink on paper that Boyne has created as he prepares for his residency journey.
Ed Spence is an emerging Vancouver-based artist whose work spans many disciplines and utilizes text, photography and public installation. He is well known for his photo-collage work, which mimics a digital aesthetic by dissecting portions of an image into tiny pixels, which are then cut and meticulously reorganized by hand. This is analogue pixelation! And it's utterly amazing.
Here's the artist proof of Ed's limited edition series of prints. Gorgeous!!:
The original collage work is available framed (for one very lucky supporter) as is a limited edition series of archival inkjet prints (12.75 x 18.5"). See our rewards for details!
Ross Kelly is a visual artist based in Vancouver. His photo-based practice represents a continuing inquiry into the nature of the spaces we inhabit, how they are interconnected and how we, as individuals, read these landscapes and integrate ourselves into them. Born in Ireland, Kelly studied geology at the London Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine and Psychology at the American College in Dublin before earning a diploma in photography and a postgraduate diploma in art history from the University of British Columbia. He is presently a candidate in the low residence MAA program at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. His work has been exhibited throughout Canada, Ireland, the UK, Turkey, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
About this work: 12 12 122 12 12 121 is part of a large body of photographs shot in analogue film in locations around the world. Kelly has titled these images simply with their latitude and longitude coordinates, in the interest, following that of his larger practice, to produce slippages in our understanding of time, space, and location. This work has never been printed before.
STAY TUNED! There are more reward images to come...
Each of our artists participating in Twenty-Three Days at Sea have been asked to take a still photograph from the deck of their vessel during their voyage, somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, noting the latitude and longitude of their position. Together, these will form a wonderfully strange collection of photographs depicting a scene most of us will never see....horizon on all sides, and nothing but vast ocean.
Our inaugural resident, Elisa Ferrari, has just returned home from Shanghai as we launch this campaign and she will be bringing a very special photograph for you. But for the moment, you'll just have you'll have to use your imagination! What you will receive is a matted, giclee photographic print (6 x 8" print, 11 x 14" matted) of an utterly unique scene, captured by Elisa and soon enough, from our three remaining residency artists of 2015-16, from somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Perhaps this boat tracker image capture of Elisa's ship in the middle of the sea (which we are in fact quite fond of) will suffice for now:
Who we are!
Access Gallery, Burrard Arts Foundation, and Art Contraste are Canadian non-profit organizations supporting the work of critically engaged visual artists.
An artist-run centre established in 1991 and located in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown, Access Gallery is dedicated to supporting and presenting the work of emergent artists, curators and cultural practitioners. We enable critical conversations and risk taking through new configurations of audience, artists and community. Access occupies an important place in Vancouver’s cultural landscape: the gallery often provides the occasion for an artist’s first solo exhibition (and has provided important exhibition opportunities for some of Canada's most successful contemporary artists at early stages in their careers). Access orients these artists into a wider dialogue and visibility within the community, while offering that community the opportunity to encounter new artists and artistic approaches through brave and engaging programming.
Since 2013, Access Gallery has been under the Directorship of curator, writer, and educator Kimberly Phillips, who, in addition to launching Twenty-Three Days at Sea, oversees the gallery’s artistic vision and fiscal health. With the assistance of her fabulous staff, she develops and produces Access’ dynamic and ambitious yearly program of exhibitions, publications, and outreach programs that include local, national and international collaborations, talks, performances, screenings, readings, workshops, walking tours and symposia. Committed to reflecting a broad range of artistic disciplines as well as cultural and socio-political concerns relevant to our contemporary world, our programming is nationally and internationally recognized. Access Gallery is a staunch supporter of fair wages and compensates artists according to CARFAC guidelines, and is also a long-standing member of the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres (PAARC).
The mission of the Burrard Arts Foundation (BAF) is to promote the development of, and excellence in, the visual arts in Canada—accomplished 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 public’s grasp. Our objective is to provide opportunities that enable artists to produce their work and share it with the World.
Art Contraste 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.
Follow us for the journey and stay updated as the residency unfolds!
Official Residency Image credit: Ross Kelly, 12 12 122 12 12 121, 2005/2015.
Risks and challenges
Innovation is inherently risky. We identified two sets of risks with Twenty-Three Days at Sea: general financial risks, as any organization would confront with a project of this scale, and the more specific risks associated with the logistics of a travelling residency.
To address the financial risk, we have scaled the project to be realizable within our organizations' means, and expandable as fundraising allows. We also identified risks with a project based in Vancouver that involves international travel to China, which is why we partnered with Art Contraste, a Canadian organization whose Executive Director has been based in Shanghai for many years and has extensive experience with facilitating artists' travel to and within Asia. Contraste's involvement with Twenty-Three Days at Sea has already proven invaluable in navigating the complexities of Chinese visa requirements for international artists, and facilitating warm introductions between residency artists and members of Shanghai's art community.
Finally, with an unconventional project such as this, which involves an ocean voyage, we needed to ensure our organizations were safe from liability. Our residency contract was vetted by legal counsel specializing in marine law and each artist receives a thorough orientation to ship safety and best practices through our Port Metro Vancouver collaborators and shipping company NSB Reiseburo.
We have done our research, and the project has launched! Help us realize this residency’s expanded potential. By doing so, you’ll be supporting emerging artists at a pivotal moment in their careers, and you’ll be contributing to something really remarkable!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)