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The Basement Show

Jenny Hawkinson, Denise Hawrysio… The Basement Show

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Opening celebration Thursday April 11, 2019, from 6pm to 9pm

Exhibition open daily from 11am to 3pm

60 – 268 Keefer Street, Vancouver (BC Artscape Sun Wah Building)

Jenny Hawkinson, Denise Hawrysio, Janet Wang, Jaymie Johnson, Marika Vandekraats, Alex Achtem, The Underground Assembly

Presented by Val Loewen with support from Malaspina Printmakers Society.

The Basement Show explores the engagement between art practice and community in Vancouver. Located in a temporarily vacated basement studio managed by BC Artscape Sun Wah in Chinatown, the basement is part of a historic area undergoing rapid change and development. This exhibition surveys some of the practices in Vancouver that engage with or document this changing experience in local communities.

Jenny Hawkinson’s Waver follows Vancouver residents throughout the city as they engage in the guerrilla acts of flag raising and flag waving. The concept grew from a residency in Belfast. Unlike the Canadian flag, which is seen as a celebration of national identity, flags in Northern Ireland are aggressive place markers connected to politics and sectarianism. This flag represents the disenfranchised and the displaced. Vancouver has a layered history of displacement and a cul- ture of activism. Knowing that white flags are charged and have been misused in the past, the text is used to evoke universal human experiences.

Jaymie Johnson, Unit 060 – 268 Keefer Street, April 10-21, 2019: Completed throughout the course of the show, this accordi- on book documents the daily detritus specific to the Sun Wah Centre and those who enter the gallery space. Each day, beginning on April 10 and ending on April 21, Johnson collects plastic and plant derived debris found on the ground immediately outside and within the gallery space and draws this newly collected material onto a new page in the book. The public is invited to participate by contributing any detri- tus carried with them into the gallery space – emptying pockets and bags to leave pieces of paper, wrappers, take-away cups, etc – all of which will be documented in the following days’ drawing.

Excavator Speakers I and II were completed by Denise Hawrysio during a residency at the Print Media Center at the University of British Columbia in 2007. The images exist as performative prints resulting from planned non-art situa- tions. Two copper plates were marked by land excavator operators working on a construction site in Vancouver, the text overlayed on the image is chosen from conversations overheard during the event. The printed images serve as a record of a continuing and changing event, as the images were later used to create placards for “Collective Street Action”, a performative protest carried out by volunteers in Montreal. This work is part of Hawrysio’s ongoing advocacy for the accessibility of art making.

In 2018 Janet Wang began studying the impact of development on Chinatown as a participating artist on the 10 Different Things public art project organized by ECUAD, Living Labs, CityStudio and the City of Vancouver. She conducted her research through interviews with community stakeholders, resident workshops and walking tours with cultural advocates. From this she created a Chinatown toile pattern which has been wheatpasted and draped between the Georgia Viaducts. Blanket Fort is a continuation of this project, an amorphous shelter inviting visitors to occupy the work.

Alex Achtem’s recreational products were assembled over the course of eight months as a resident artist at the Second Beach Fieldhouse in Stanley Park. Situated in a former Vancouver Parks Board office, Achtem assumed the role of an unofficial public servant and began collecting materials from the park and beach. She used the foraged materials to make objects that aided in the activities she saw on a daily basis. In this work she is interested in the activities we find ourselves doing in nature, do these activities aid in our relationships with the environment or push us further away?

Washing Hands with Soap in the Shape of my Mother’s Hands has been performed by Marika Vandekraats three times before, twice at Robson Square and once at the Calgary Memorial Library. The performance involves the artist washing the hands of volunteers with soap that she has cast in the shape of her mother’s hands. The idea stems from her mother’s recent hand operations to remove traces of melanoma, and the worry that her hands would change and feel different. Marika transfers this feeling into soap, using a material that changes with every interaction, the hands getting smaller and fingers getting thinner over time until they have been washed away. By sharing this care with strangers she initiates an intimate experience in an otherwise impersonal public space.

Underground Assembly’s Vending Machine Experiments consists of repurposed vending machines that disrupt conventional notions of gallery spaces and art economies. Within these small containers, artists subvert roles and expectations, mediating their roles as artists, curators, business owners and fabricators. Satirizing the business of art and the quick and mass production of many items, these cultural dispensing machines sell affordable and con- sumable artworks including (fan)zines, tiny sculptures, text art, drawings, handmade toys and other creations. These creations have been placed in public spaces in Vancouver and allow the artists and the participants to explore social, political, and scientific issues in a lighthearted way.


Jenny Hawkinson is a mixed-media artist who lives in Vancouver, B.C. Her preferred mediums include video, performance, textiles, sculpture and installation. She engages with the themes of displace- ment and homecoming. These interests have taken her to contested territories around the world; over the last few years she has made work in Israel/Palestine and Northern Ireland. This documented performance is a movement to explore issues close to home. She lives in the Downtown Eastside and is deeply rooted in the commu- nity.

Jaymie Johnson uses natural, recycled, and found materials to create site-specific sculpture, installation, and works on paper that investigate our relationship to place and the ecosystems that we belong to. As an artist and educator she operates from an experi- mental, collaborative, and inquiry-based approach. Since graduating with a BFA in Visual Arts from Emily Carr University in 2015, Jaymie has worked on numerous community-engaged and environmental public art projects as a member of EartHand Gleaners Society and Project Assistant with Border Free Bees, as well as on independent projects for institutions including Science World, Vancity, Vancouver Biennale BIG IDEAS, and First Capital Realty.

Denise Hawrysio was born in Toronto and currently lives in London, UK. She received her BFA from Queen’s University, Canada, and her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. She is a conceptual artist who works in a variety of media and materials including site-specific installation, artists books, film, video and printmedia and has exhibited her work in Europe, the United States, and Canada.

Janet Wang is a visual artist working within a traditional painting practice, integrated with sculptural installation practices and digital media. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia and her Master of Studio Practice from the Univer- sity of Leeds in England. Her work explores the construction of identity through the appropriation and disruption of social patterns and familiar gestures. The artist extrapolates from the canons and traditions of history, both the artistic and the quotidian, in order to use the familiar as a meeting point with the viewer.She is currently is an instructor at the LaSalle College Vancouver and Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

Alex Achtem is an artist looking for new ways of seeing and docu- menting the natural environment. Through deconstruction, an attempt is made to uncover something behind the image, just out of reach. Alex holds a BFA from Emily Carr University. She currently lives in Vancouver, BC on the unceded traditional territories of the xmky”m (Musqueam), Skwxwu7mesh (Squamish), and sl”ilwta (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. In Summer 2019 she will be an MFA candidate at Kunsthøgskolen in Oslo, Norway.

Marika Vandekraats (b. 1994) is an artist based in Vancouver. She previously lived in Rotterdam, NL, where she began experimentation into performances and site-specific based work. Through assem- blage, Vandekraats questions the assumed expectations of commonplace objects, exhausting their own functions until they begin to produce something anew.

The Underground Assembly is Juan Cisneros, Denise Holland and Pippa Lattey. Cisneros, Holland and Lattey graduated from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2016 and began sharing a studio in the Downtown Eastside shortly after. Their projects use sculptural, illustration and publication elements to create reflective and sometimes satirical viewpoints about the world we live in.