Currents celebrates the diversity of art as a medium

Audain Gallery’s latest exhibition is a culmination of distinct artistic practices from SFU’s MFA candidates

One of MFA candidate Graeme Wahn's pieces, Flow. Image courtesy of Graeme Wahn / SFU.

By: Kim Regala, Peak Associate

A warm welcome joined with a strong sense of community is immediately felt upon entering the Audain Gallery’s latest exhibition, Currents. Showcasing the works of three Master of Fine Arts (MFA) candidates, this culmination of installation, photography, and performance celebrates the diversity of art as a medium. Each uniquely influenced by their own modes of artistic expression, artists Minahil Bukhari, Graeme Wahn, and Amy Wilson have curated such a space that allows for a shared appreciation of their individual work.

Perhaps the most intriguing piece in the gallery is the large-scale installation on the far-right of the space, which hangs from the ceiling — a wide sheet of rough, ivory-white paper with needle-poked symbols appearing chronologically from top to bottom. This is Bukhari’s piece titled I am her, she is me, where she simultaneously explores and attempts to fill the missing gaps within her family tree. Realizing that her culture has always excluded women in its ancestral documents, Bukhari seeks to address these notions of gendered injustice within her own history of patrilineal descent. While the art itself is grandiose in size, a closer look at the delicately poked surfaces, as well as the repetitive gestures of ripping, allow us to feel a sense of intimacy with the work. The piece influences viewers to imagine Bukhari’s own process of tracing back her timeline while creating the piece. Her installation is a thought-provoking display of her experience as she attempts to cope and understand these sentiments of female erasure within her own past.

While Bukhari’s piece gravitates towards a more serious and poetic energy, Graeme Wahn’s Revealers takes on a vivid and playful approach. Occupying the central space of the gallery is his collection of photographs, painted works, and sculptures that explore the role of light in various mediums. He explains in his artist statement that “light is a field and, as such, is constantly active — before, during, and after images are formed.” One of the most memorable displays is his piece titled Mullen (Chiasmus), an extremely close-up photo of a plant by which light rays cast soft hues of red and yellow just above its leaves. These subtle light interferences allow for the plant to appear as if it is outside of its enclosed, two-dimensional frame, almost reaching out to the viewer to be touched physically. Wahn’s collection is a definite must-see, especially for aspiring photographers who seek to further explore the relationship of light with photographic exposures.

Last on the list — although certainly not the least — is Amy Wilson’s Edgelands. Located near the entrance and by the far windows of the gallery, her project is a performance piece, starring not so much herself, but rather the land that she has cultivated in the space. This display first appears as a collection of flowers, plants, and soil, paired with the harmonizing voices of women singing to the land. However, this is not Wilson’s finished product. The true performance will occur over the course of the exhibition as a series of actions take place, such as watering, burying, weaving, and, yes, even singing. It is through these care-taking gestures that the piece will develop over time, and the public is encouraged to visit the gallery as these changes take place. Through this transformative and live performance, Wilson explores the human and non-human relationships that occur within landscapes — an important thought to consider at this age of ecological collapse.

Presented by SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts, Currents is open to the public at the Audain Gallery, located at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts (149 West Hastings Street), until September 21.