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New Richmond art shows challenge gender roles, forms of expression

Two new exhibitions are coming to Richmond Art Gallery on Jan. 28, 2023.

The Richmond Art Gallery (RAG) will be presenting two new exhibitions this month — Sunny Side Up and other sorrowful stories by Mike Bourscheid and Codes of Silence curated by Zoë Chan.

Bourscheid's Sunny Side Up is the artist's first major show in Canada, and it will explore themes of gender, toxic masculinity, parenthood and loneliness inspired by his experience growing up with a single mother and absent father.

The exhibition features an installation of costumes, props and sculptures accompanied by a film titled Agnes. The installation, which was originally set up at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin in 2021, also functioned as a set for Agnes.

One of the motifs highlighted in the exhibition is the nose, as the artist is said to have inherited his father's nose. Seven latex noses of various colours and shapes can be spotted throughout the show, and Bourscheid plays different characters identifiable by their noses in Agnes.

“Mike Bourscheid critiques familial and interpersonal relationships, engaging in an important discourse about traditional roles in the home and beyond,” said Shaun Dacey, curator of the exhibition and RAG director, in a media release.

Chan's Codes of Silence, on the other hand, aims to challenge the common perception that voice is necessary for expressing untold stories and marginalized causes. The exhibition presents videos by four artists that feature voices that are "muted, obscured, withheld, or unexplained in ways that cultivate quietness, interiority, intimacy and community."

Shirley Bruno’s Tezen is a retelling of a popular Haitian legend that portrays the life of a rural family and a young woman's coming of age. Aleesa Cohene’s Kathy is a montage of character actor Kathy Bates’s performances that depicts the "reductive roles often offered to women and queer people." Caroline Monnet’s Creatura Dada imagines a celebration of renowned filmmaker and activist Alanis Obomsawin. Cauleen Smith’s Black and Blue Over You (After Bas Jan Ader for Ishan) shows the artist making floral arrangements using only black, white and blue tones in memory of a loved one's tragic death.

Codes of Silence asks what kinds of creative expression can take place when the voice does not have to shout in the streets or have to fight back,” said Chan in the media release.

“These artists are making videos that represent subtle modes of communication beyond public protest and dissent. Yet, they are incredibly powerful and perhaps represent a different, equally important kind of resistance."

Sunny Side Up and other sorrowful stories and Codes of Silence will run from Jan. 28 to April 2, 2023. Bourscheid and Chan will be holding a free informal tour followed by an opening reception for both exhibitions on Jan. 28, 2023. 

Meanwhile, the current RAG exhibition by landscape artist Derek LiddingtonThe trees weep, the mountain still, the bodies rust, is coming to a close on Jan. 15, 2023.

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