Hey, thanks for visiting.
I’m Vanessa Kwan, an artist and curator based in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
My practice, in recent years, has been hard to pin down. My work has taken the shape of both temporary and permanent public artworks, hand-painted signs, drawings from postcards, collaborative performance works, programmed events, and community-engaged “consultations.” In this, I’m left with a bit of a void in terms of a succinct artist statement. Leaving material or thematic similarity to the side, the unifying factor in much of my work to date has been an engagement with publics in the creative process, and a negotiation with the elements of the public sphere (as in space, people or interaction) in order to guide the work to completion. I think (because sometimes I’m not sure if this work fits the terms) it is sometimes called a post-studio, relational or social practice.
I’m less interested in the label, however, and more interested in what different currencies emerge when one tends towards a less object- or aesthetic-based art practice. I hate sounding dry (this sounds dry), but the most enduring concept I’ve been working with lately is the idea of negotiation in contemporary practice. By this I mean the way that artists negotiate their movement through and amongst different contexts – spatial, social, institutional, economic and so on, in order to get work done, to create opportunity or to maintain a vibrant practice.
I see this mobility as something that is practically true for me (ie: I do work across disciplines, with collaborators and within a variety of institutions) but also something that on a broader scale, is a defining feature of what artists do. Whether through the responsiveness of site-specific projects, the porous nature of public works and social practices, the collaborative impulse, or the simple and basic ability that many of us must cultivate in writing for, speaking to or negotiating with various stakeholders in the production of work, fluidity is key. This is where most of my work begins.
Vanessa Kwan is an artist and curator with a focus on collaborative, site-specific and community-engaged practices, currently based in Vancouver Canada. Among other things, her artworks have included a geyser (with Erica Stocking), a garden best viewed by moonlight, and a series of events for sad people. At grunt gallery she manages residencies, exhibitions and special projects and is also curator/ producer at Other Sights for Artists’ Projects, an artist-run organization that curates and produces artworks for the public realm. She is a founding member of the arts collective Norma who were honoured with a City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for public art in 2012. She regularly writes and publishes on art and culture, and has recently led curated projects at venues across the Pacific Rim (Vancouver, Seoul, and Sydney) exploring artist-led creative exchange. Upcoming projects also include SPEAKER A, a permanent sound installation (with Theatre Replacement) and Houseplanters, a series of public sculptures commissioned by the City of Vancouver.
The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the BC Arts Council and the City of Vancouver Public Art Program.