The Permanent Collection Show?
March 15 - March 24, 2021
The Permanent Collection Show? plays with history. It is an online narrative that presents a fictionalized rendition of the history of the Hatch Art Gallery - and the accompanying AMS Permanent Collection - through re-enactment, engagement, satire, game, and jest. In curating this project, we began to understand that there are as many histories as there are art historians. Presented to you is one way to view these histories that have been constructed by a multitude of voices, perspectives, personal accounts, and grave assumptions.
The Permanent Collection Show? contains no works from the AMS Permanent Collection, and instead chooses to focus on highlighting certain histories that have been uncovered by an intimate survey into the archival documents. We see this strategy as a way to subvert the normative ways in which we look at the collection, as well as a chance to question how it has been utilized, valued, and monitored by those who oversee it.
The ‘exhibition’ takes place on the Hatch Art Gallery website, and uses this online viewing platform as an interactive space for experiencing the story we present. There will be 5 Acts that will follow up on each other, each Act presents a different problem set to its viewers. Beginning on March 15th, we will release each Act individually until they all culminate on March 24th. On this final day of the exhibition, there will be a live event over Zoom entitled The Permanent Collection Show?: The Slumber Party where we will play out the 5 Acts in the form of a mock-play. This event will be interactive with its audience and will consist of a night of storytelling, gossiping, partying, whispering, and dancing (all staples of a good slumber party). We invite you to join us for a night where history will not be made.
Curation process led by James Albers
Curatorial Group & Artists:
Online Volunteer Program:
As the Directors of the space this year, we would like to respectfully acknowledge that the Hatch Art Gallery is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xwmə0–kwəy’əm (Musqueam) people. We as a team are dedicated to unpacking how it is that institutions - like the University of British Columbia, the Alma Mater Society, as well as the Hatch Art Gallery - have and continue to contribute to the erasure of Indigeneity through colonial violence.
This year as we primarily function online, we are grappling with the questions of what it means to exist online as a meeting point between the art and artists we represent, and viewers at home. What does it mean to be presenting online, in relation to the land on which our physical bodies take up space? How can we continuously engage with conversations of decolonization in regards to online spaces? Although these digital spaces are non-physical, who were they made for? How can we challenge and subvert those boundaries?
Firstly, I would like to thank Reiko Inouye for being with me at every step of this journey. This project was born from our mutual desire to create something that felt like it could have a greater reach than our own two minds.
I would also like to thank all the work that Kiel Torres and Yasmine Whaley-Kalaora put into their directorships preceding our own, as they were able to provide a valuable roadmap for this project as well as for our larger goals during our directorships.
Many thanks to Claire Geddes Bailey for their creative guidance and support in planning the Slumber Party. I greatly appreciate the energy given to me as well as the friendly reassurance that is vital to the aims of this project.
Thank you to all the volunteers (listed above) who also doubled as artists within this exhibition. Thank you for bearing with me while I set out to create this collaborative project, and for sharing all your ideas and gossip with me as we looked through the archival documents, you have all been so generous with your time. Also, I wish to thank them for being so open minded considering the fluidity and experimental nature of this project and its aims. Thank you all for listening to me rant about the stress of the job, and for telling me that it would all be okay as long as we worked through it together.
I would also like to thank Dr. Erin Silver and Althea Thauberger for their guidance through thinking about this project, and letting me bring the problems posed by this directorship to the space of the classroom.
Special thank you to Tiziana La Melia and Julian Yi-Jong Hou for their friendship, support, food, shelter, and fresh air as we pulled together the final pieces of the project. Thank you both and for providing me with the confidence that my wandering mind could, in fact, make sense somewhere.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly shifted the ways that we experience daily life, including the ways that we encounter art. After deciding that all exhibitions and programming for our term would be shifted online, we (the Hatch Directors) were given the distinct opportunity to look interiorly at the histories of the gallery and its connection to the AMS Permanent Collection.
Our access to these histories were limited to various resources that we could safely utilize online, primarily being the digital scans of archival documents pertaining to the Hatch Art Gallery which is housed by the Alma Mater Society Archives. The form in which we were given these documents were individual and unnamed PDF files on a flash drive. Some of these documents date back to the 1940s, when the idea of a student-run gallery and permanent collection of ‘Canadian art’ were mere whispers and imaginations. Understanding the content of these files would prove to be extremely valuable to us in regards to situating ourselves within these histories. With the help of a dedicated group of volunteers, we were able to sift through, read, and organize these digital files.
In addition to the valuable help that the volunteers performed for us, we understood that this process housed great potential to become a larger collaborative project that looks deeply into the content of the archives. Reiko and I were particularly inspired by accounts of ‘hot juicy gossip’ that we encountered at certain moments. Looking closely into their content made room for an alternative history of the space to show itself - one that could be told through highlighting events and incidents that may have been silenced in the past.
As we enlisted the volunteers to organize these documents, we asked that they keep an eye out for elements of ‘hot juicy gossip’ contained within them - sassy correspondence, a surprising event, damaged works, missing works, tensions between governing institutions, email fights, misunderstandings, anything that could spark an interesting conversation. Once these gossips were loosely defined, we left room for individual interpretation to guide our collaborative process of curation. Once the gossip within the archives was identified, our gossip on their subject matter began.
This project comes from our innate desire to connect with others during a time of limited interaction but heightened interconnectivity. Through our various ‘gossiping sessions’, we were able to piece together a non-linear history that provides an intimate look into the backstories of the Hatch Art Gallery and its marriage to the AMS Permanent Collection.
Click below to begin viewing The Permanent Collection Show?