Steven Brekelmans, Artist – Vancouver

Steven Brekelmans received a Diploma in Media Arts from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and an MFA from the University of Victoria. His practice, including sculpture, ceramics, video, photography, and drawings, investigates the value of labour and worth. He is part of the upcoming exhibition We Do Not Work Alone at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, opening July 30th.

  1. J.G. Ballard

Ballard plows full steam into his stories, building up his fictional worlds by simply assuming everyone knows what is going on. He leaves us to fill in the blanks, projecting our own understanding of his words, to be enhanced or lacquered by our own experiences. We convince ourselves that his stories are believable because there is room for us in his fantasy.

  1. Back lanes

I walk back lanes whenever I can. I’ve always done it — ever since I was a kid. It’s very revealing. The front of the house gets all the attention, but in truth, the action is in the back lane. What you can see from the back reveals something about the owners in the same way that a snapshot reveals something spontaneous when compared to a portrait photograph.

  1. News from Home (1977)

I just watched Chantal Akerman’s film about New York City in the 1970s. It was a balm for the pain of not being able to travel, but it was also a guessing game about a city I barely know as I tried to place the locations while being separated by so much time and space. Long shots of the city are overlaid with Akerman’s voice reading letters sent from back home by her mother. The film is subtitled, so we are given access to all the words, but I suspect the filmmaker’s intention was to bury her voice in the audio mix, so I tried not to read but to listen instead.

  1. The studio as potential

Studio Peter Voulkos

I have been looking at books about sculpture and ceramics, focusing on the studio photographs more than the gallery shots. I love how the variety of studios reflects the variety of works. When the art enters the gallery, it feels like it could be anywhere. In the studio, the artwork is in a distinct state: it is still unfinished. A gallery exhibition closes the door on progression. It stamps “finished” on the artwork. However, in the studio, captured by the camera, the artwork is full of potential.

  1. Noah Purifoy’s Ode to Frank Gehry

A couple of years ago I visited the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Museum not far from Joshua Tree, California. Sitting unprotected in the high desert, all of the work is sunbaked and sandblasted. Purifoy gathers materials together into wonderful assemblages – sometimes abstract and sometimes representational. His Ode to Frank Gehry is perfect. Is it a critique or a celebration? Either way it is formally compelling and full of wit: junk purposefully collected, erected in emulation of another’s gesture.