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 a Vancouver-based artist, writer and curator. Her work often involves the production of work in public space, and is often collaborative, site-specific and interdisciplinary. Recent projects include a large-scale permanent public artwork called Geyser for Hillcrest Park (with Erica Stocking), Sad Sack, a series of public events and collaborations on the subject of melancholy, and This Creeping Root, a moonlight garden. 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. She has received numerous grants from local and national arts councils, and was selected for the Canada Council’s Asia Pacific Visual Arts Delegation in 2014. As performance curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery, she produced FUSE, the gallery’s premiere performance event, from 2008 – 14. She currently works as Curator of Community Engagement with grunt gallery, where she produces socially-engaged work and special projects, and as Producer/ Curator with Other Sights for Artists Projects, an organization that commissions temporary artworks for the public realm. She teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. She writes and publishes regularly on art and visual culture and is currently at work on an artist book about sleeplessness, a telegraph station and twins.
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.