Ok, first things first. When I compiled my Top Ten Movies of 2016 list, I made an omission.
American Honey is a three hour roadtrip through the American Midwest with a bunch of ragtag teens who go door-to-door selling magazine subscriptions for a living. It’s a coming-of-age story that, as it goes along, examines the social issues of contemporary America. While this film deals with a subject and a genre that most of us have seen before, it is not predictable, Hollywood-ish, or cliched. This film is refreshing, new, original, and gripping. Yes, it’s long, but it’s worth it (much like a real road trip).
Pictured is newcomer Sasha Lane in the leading role. She is an absolute revelation.
A more detailed review can be found here.
Now on to the Vancouver Art Gallery!
The Vancouver Art Gallery had an exhibit entitled Juxtapox x Superflat when I visited. The exhibit’s function was to “offer a unique insight into contemporary art and its place in cultural life.” Juxtapox x Superflat “is a survey of the most exciting visual art to emerge in recent years, with an emphasis on artists who operate outside the central hubs of the global art world.” The Juxtapoz portion focuses on “artists who have been featured in the magazine Juxtapoz Art and Culture over the last 20 years and whose work references and expands on the subcultures – skate, surf, tattoo, punk, graffiti, comic, design, illustration – from which they emerged.”
As I walked up the staircase and entered the first exhibition space, these creatures awaited me…
Artist Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor “creates eccentric works that elevate the discarded, the overlooked, and the abject to the realm of “fine art.” She “creates creatures that are at once cute and terrifying, subverting the supposedly benign nature of childhood culture.”
Next was a snack stand complete with familiar treats, constructed entirely out of felt by artist Lucy Sparrow.
Why the felt? The artist uses this material in an attempt to “combine the ethos of street art with a craft methodology to question the nature of artistic production” and, in so doing, to “comment on the rampant consumerism…that characterize[s] our contemporary moment.”
Here is a more detailed description:
Next up was Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei…dead on the floor.
The sculpture was so lifelike that for a moment I actually thought someone had collapsed in the gallery.
Artist He Xiangyu has created this work, called “The Death of Marat,” as “a physical manifestation of the persecution experienced by Ai Weiwei for creating art that is critical of the political regime; situated face down, the artist is silenced – a powerful symbol of the human rights struggle in China.”
The next piece, “Monument to Thieves” by artist Ben Venom, combines “the craft and handmade aesthetic of quilting with heavy metal, skate, and punk subcultures.” In doing so, the work “actively subverts gender stereotypes ….by provocatively fus[ing] traditionally feminine craft techniques with imagery and symbols drawn from typically male and often misogynistic subcultures.”
This next work was featured on the promotional materials for the exhibit.
The painting is called “Anatomia” and the artist, Mark Ryden, is one of the founders of contemporary Pop Surrealism. His work “embraces the macabre, the bizarre, and the unexplained.” For a detailed explanation of the work, see below:
The exhibit was, without a doubt, one of the most memorable and unique art gallery experiences I have had.