Let the real world in: Kirsten Leenaars, Yaimel López Zaldívar, Yoshua Okón, Wapikoni; and Mobile Shen Xin: but this is the language we met in
Manon Chamberland and Eva Kaukai in collaboration with the Wapikoni Mobile team, Katatjatuuk Kangirsumi (Throat Singing in Kangirsuk), 2018, video still. Courtesy of Wapikoni Mobile.

Let the real world in: Kirsten Leenaars, Yaimel López Zaldívar, Yoshua Okón, Wapikoni; and Mobile Shen Xin: but this is the language we met in

Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond, BC - To March 31

by Michael Turner

Two exhibitions whose titles end in “in.” For Let the real world in, “in” refers to Art, in contrast to the modernist art critic Clement Greenberg, who insisted painting be about its formal properties, nothing else. For Shen Xin’s but this is the language we met in, “in” is an abstract space, the human encounter. It is the progressive modernist who believes photography, not painting, should attempt to represent the real world, and the identitarian who insists the focus be not on the art object but on the real world of social relations present before, during and after its construction.

Kirsten Leenaars, Yoshua Okón and Wapikoni Mobile are artists who work with video and are interested in aspects of documentary film. Their contribution to Let the real world in consists of videos focused on children and youth, whom they recognize as collaborators. Among the themes that emerge from their videos is the tension between the child that we as parents cherish (and inadvertently attempt to preserve) and the emerging adult whose ideas, opinions and attitudes are born from experiences independent of our influence. Accompanying these videos is a series of commissioned screenprint responses by Yaimel López Zaldívar.

Shen Xin’s but this is the language we met in comprises the first film in a series entitled Grounds of Coherence and four small related paintings. At the heart of Shen’s poetic project is the artist’s ongoing exploration of what they describe as “ways of coming to knowing, and the ecosystems of languages.” For Shen, a recurrent metaphor for these “ecosystems” is the tree.

richmondartgallery.org

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