Image courtesy of the Artist
Visitors can catch Gwenessa Lam in the exhibition, borderLINE: 2020 Biennial of Contemporary Art at your AGA from September 26, 2020 to January 3, 2021.
Featuring 38 artists and collectives across two provinces and five treaty territories, borderLINE calls attention to how borders are defined, who can enforce them, and what is confined by their limits.
borderLINE: 2020 Biennial of Contemporary Art is organized by the Art Gallery of Alberta and Remai Modern, and curated by Sandra Fraser, Felicia Gay, Franchesca Hebert-Spence and Lindsey Sharman. Presented by ATB Financial at the Art Gallery of Alberta.
Has the pandemic affected your studio practice? Has it changed how you are thinking about your work, considering that the theme of the exhibition is borders?
This series of work began as an investigation into historical artifacts, and how areas of new or unknown knowledge offer different ways of thinking (the idea of crossing conceptual or ideological borders). This has shifted for me to think about our physical bodies in relation to these historical unknowns. I am seeing the flipside, of how bodies are subject to categorization, control, visibility, and invisibility. When I think about my work now, it cannot be divorced from current anxieties that breed fear alongside what is unknown. I am trying to participate in different conversations that engage with uncertainty more generatively, rather than stoke fear.
Coin (Chinese Talisman), c. 1900, Ming Dynasty, 1923-1924, bronze, Alaska State Museum Juneau, III-O-14, scanned drawing, 2019
Courtesy the artist
Saturna Island Ceramic Figure, unknown age, Royal BC Museum Archaeology Collection, DeRt-9:C233, scanned drawing, 2019
Courtesy the artist
The Articulate Object series by Gwenessa Lam is featured in the exhibition borderLINE: 2020 Biennial of Contemporary Art. In this series, Lam photographs and draws pre-Columbian artifacts found on the West Coast. The artifacts open the possibility that there was trade and communication between Asia and North America that pre-dates European contact. The artist has provided case studies to accompany some of these artifacts.
Notice: The documents here are part of a historical case study and there is language used that may be considered offensive. The documents do not represent the ideas, thoughts or beliefs of the Art Gallery of Alberta or the artist.
Document 1: Contributions to Human History
Document 2: The Mystery of the Saturna Island Figurine Head
Document 3: A Remarkable Stone Lamp from Alaska
Document 4: Early Chinese Exploration on the Pacific Coast?