2023 Fraser Valley Biennial
Jennifer Shepit, When the Body Disappears #1, 2022, watercolour, graphite, ink on paper.

2023 Fraser Valley Biennial

The Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford, BC - To May 6

by Michael Turner

The theme of this year’s seventh Fraser Valley Biennial concerns that most ineffable of living forms: the body. “It is not until relatively recently in ... Western thought,” writes curator Candace Couse in her exhibition statement, “that ‘the body’ is recontextualized as ‘embodiment,’ where lived, sensual experience becomes a – or the – pre-eminent site for knowledge.” With that in mind, Couse invited artists from across the Lower Mainland to submit works that “think about and through the body.”

From 22 artists, the artworks range from those that picture the literal body – in whole, in part or modified – to representations of its sheltered form, be that through clothing or housing. Gesture is also rep- resented, with works that speak not only to the act of creation but also of destruction. Over three-quarters of the participating artists are women; all of them hail from the Fraser Valley communities of Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Langley and Lake Errock.

Notable works include Paula Funk’s oneiric Figure Drawing: Man on Stool (2022). Set in a live drawing studio, the artist depicts (in embroidery floss on drop cloth) an older naked male with a pair of women’s breasts on his back. Shel Stefan’s Sharon Doing Rope 1 (2022) is a pastel drawing on butcher paper done in preparation for the artist and model’s “live” performance at Chicago’s Leather Archives & Museum, while Scott Moore’s physical/digital installation still life still (2022) emphasizes objects as aggregated touchstones, those that “compose our families” and contribute to the ties that bind.


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