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Vancouver Art Gallery Presents a Panel Conversation with Dana Claxton, Paul Wong and Anthony Kiendl

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Vancouver Art Gallery Presents a Panel Conversation with Dana Claxton, Paul Wong and Anthony Kiendl

Join in for a bold conversation on Friday, July 31 at 4:30 P.M. with the Vancouver Art Gallery's newly appointed CEO and Director Anthony Kiendl and Vancouver-based artists Dana Claxton and Paul Wong, as they discuss topics of systemic racism, transformation and relationship-building.

Convened by Paul Wong, this event will be an important discussion between three long-time colleagues about the dismantling of colonial systems within their own practices and the role of institutions, artists and the community. Who is Anthony Kiendl? Who are Dana Claxton and Paul Wong? How do their histories overlap and interconnect?

Each of these speakers have worked within, outside of and, at times, against institutions, having trajectories rooted in artist-run initiatives and endeavours. Interrogating the concept of a "difficult conversation," these three artists/curators/arts administrators will discuss how conversations of equity can be addressed through a commitment to contemporary art, to artist-centred decision-making and to bringing about radical institutional transformation and decolonization.

About the Speakers:

Dana Claxton is a critically acclaimed artist who works in film, video, photography, single and multi-channel video installation and performance art. Born in 1959 in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, of Hunkpapa Lakota heritage, she grew up in Moose Jaw. Her practice investigates beauty, the body, the socio-political and the spiritual, combining her multi-layered world view with Indigenous issues both past and present. Her work has been shown internationally at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art (New York City) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney, Australia) and is held in public, private and corporate collections across Canada, including the Vancouver Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Canada. She has received numerous awards, including Best Experimental Film at the imagineNATIVE Film Festival, the Hnatyshyn Award for Outstanding Achievement and the 2020 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts. She was most recently awarded the 10th annual Scotiabank Photography Award. Claxton is currently Head and Associate Professor in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia.

Paul Wong comes from a long history of founding artist-run initiatives as an artist, curator and facilitator. In 1973, Wong co-founded and served as Director of Satellite Video Exchange Society (VIVO), and he is currently Artist Director of On The Cutting Edge Production Society (On Main Gallery). From 1984-86, Wong took the Vancouver Art Gallery to court over the censoring of his exhibition Confused: Sexual Views, which saw him successfully boycott the Gallery for 18 years, until that work was acquired and exhibited at the Gallery in 2002. Wong has curated numerous projects centering on race and representation, having produced activities and events that have played an important role in attempting to transform the Canadian cultural landscape. From 1988-91, Wong curated a series of exhibitions with On Main Gallery that culminated in a national tour and publication Yellow Peril: Reconsidered, which featured the work of 25 Asian-Canadian artists working across photography, video and film.

In the early 1990s Paul Wong joined Dana Claxton and many others as part of Minquon-Panchayat, a national coalition supporting artists of colour and Indigenous artists, to raise awareness around issues of race and gender. This anti-racist strategy was initiated by the Association of National Non-Profit Artist-run Centres (ANNPAC), which ultimately collapsed as a failed initiative to transform euro-centric artist-run movements. More recently in 2014, Wong was the curator of an edition of FUSE at the Vancouver Art Gallery, entitled Revolution Counter Revolution, that featured dozens of artists and welcomed over 3000 guests. That same year, Wong coordinated the symposium Disfiguring Identity: Art, Migration and Exile in partnership with Surrey Art Gallery and Kwantlen University, at which Dana Claxton was the keynote speaker. Wong is currently curating the third edition of Pride in Chinatown, which will feature works by Queer pan-Asian artists and launches on August 8, 2020.

Anthony Kiendl (he/him) is an arts leader with over 25 years experience as a curator, writer, and educator. Born on Long Island, New York, Kiendl was raised in Winnipeg, Canada, a settler (Scottish-English-Dutch-German) who has worked internationally in a wide range of arts environments and institutions-but dedicated most of his life to traversing Treaty lands 1,4,6, and 7-the area also known as Western Canada. Following his studies in Studio Art (Concordia University) and English (University of North Dakota), he began practicing as an artist, and has always advocated for artists and artist-centred platforms for the creation, presentation and interpretation of artwork, and for incorporating art into everyday life. His practice led him to work within a range of arts institutions that offered distinct and diverse modes and opportunities to artists and publics. These included AKA Artist-Run Centre (Saskatoon), the Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina Public Library, and Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art (Winnipeg). Further studies in Art Writing (School of Visual Arts, New York) and Inter-cultural Studies (University of Regina) inform his work.

Kiendl is a past Director of Walter Phillips Gallery, Visual Arts, and the Banff International Curatorial Institute at the Banff Centre, a leading post-secondary educational institution and art centre, and was most recently Executive Director and CEO of the MacKenzie Art Gallery (Regina), a public art museum. He has curated the Contour Biennale of the Moving Image (Mechelen, Belgium), and Scotiabank Nuit Blanche (Toronto).

Kiendl has pursued an inter-textual approach to art that foregrounds the role of the viewer or visitor, and the relation of artwork to communities, context, place, visual and spatial culture, and architecture. This approach assumes that art is informed by-and informs-its surroundings, and is more than a commodity-object. Art creates knowledge, and is currency of social, political and philosophical dimensions that contributes to health, justice and quality of life.

Kiendl's curatorial practice has consistently focused on the overlooked, alternative narratives, and histories-a sustained endeavour seeking empathy, accessibility, radical diversity and healing.

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