Written by: Daniella Donati
Edited by: Stephanie Tzu-Yu Liu
Steven Brekelmans: Temporary Structures (Yakity Sax) @ CSA Space. January 22, 2015 to February 22, 2015
The CSA Space is a small gallery space on the second floor of a main street building that is not known by a lot of people. To gain access to said gallery, one must first enter Pulpfiction Books and ask for the key. Walking up the stairs from the busy street already creates an atmosphere of mystery and allure. ‘What may await me in the gallery this time?’ I asked myself. I had previously seen an exhibit within this space back in 2012 called Crystal Cave 2 by Kristoff Steinruck, which was shocking to the senses. I was curious to know whether I would succumb to the same reaction once more.
I put the key in the door and opened it to find a dark, empty room with the only source of light being a bright projection of changing objects across the room, and the familiar slap stick melody ‘Yakety Sax’ was playing in the background. My friend and I sat ourselves down on the floor and began to absorb what was before us. We sat with our backs to the door, facing a windowless wall with nothing else in the room expect a radiator to the left of us. Even though the gallery was completely barren, white walled, with no familiar markers it still had a sense of intimacy. There was no attendant tentatively watching or asking if we had any questions. There was no worry that people might think we were strange, sitting on the ground and absorbing the piece. We were allowed to sit and take it in as long as we needed with no interruption, and it felt as though the exhibit was made specifically for us to enjoy. I was thankful for this privacy, because it took out any distractions that would have prevented me from centring my attention solely on the piece.
The piece itself was a short continuous looping film with still images of assorted objects moving rapidly from one image into the next. The objects would either move to create a new display or completely disappear. Some of the objects that were displayed were: Styrofoam, large beads, bubble wrap, cotton balls, two ceramic bowls, uniform sticks, and paper cut outs in a variety of shapes and colours. The display was of an unknown size but judging from the objects used, it had a small stature. The only aspect that stayed the same throughout each image was the white backdrop and the wooden platform. The end of the film was marked with a still image of these two features for a number of seconds, which contrasted from the fast pace of the majority of the film.
Upon entering the exhibit I had I lacked the knowledge surrounding the artist of project, the title, the inspiration, or any information whatsoever. The space also does not provide any information, so the viewer is almost forced to just experience the art themselves and make their own judgments. Given the humorous music playing along with these ever changing shapes, my first reaction was that maybe the artist was trying to satirize contemporary art. It made sense in a way because the music took away any serious atmosphere that could have surrounded had it not been there. The more I sat looking at the piece the more I started to see a pattern. The objects were building over and on top of each other, creating structures which then would fall apart and start creating something new. Sometimes, part of a structure would stay within the next image while the rest disappeared, and sometimes it would completely disappear, presenting new objects.
I sat there taking this in and I started to think about the fact that this was being shown in Vancouver, and that the artist may also be from Vancouver (which I later learned was true). Then, this made me wonder if the artist was based in Vancouver; maybe this could be a representation of the constant construction of Vancouver. I started to look at the images further, and they started to resemble the building of a cityscape, with one infrastructure in front of another. Just like downtown Vancouver sometimes the structures would stay completely intact, be added on to, or disappear completely.
Once this concept came into my mind, the piece started to gain more meaning to me. At first, I wrote it off as the artist’s humorous way of satirizing contemporary art, but it did so much more. I feel that the intimacy of the space allowed me the time and comfort to absorb what was before me, and form a deeper connection with the piece than I may have formed in a typical space. It felt as though this artwork was calling out to me, and showing an aspect of my life. The space and website left it up to the viewer to create a meaning, and through this I was able to create a deep connection with it, which makes me wonder if that was the artist’s intention from the beginning.