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Two new Richmond exhibits dive into art archives

The dual exhibitions aim to give context to iconic artworks and explore the meaning of artistic legacies.

Two new exhibitions coming to Richmond Art Gallery (RAG) are travelling back in time in search of the meaning of legacies.

Starting April 20, community members can check out Unit Bruises, featuring artworks by Theodore Saskatche Wan and Paul Wong, and The Marble in the Basement, which pays tribute to iconic Canadian artist Joyce Wieland.

Unit Bruises, guest curated by Michael Dang, showcases performance artworks by Wan and Wong from the 1970s addressing societal issues including anti-Asian hate that continue to resonate to this day.

Named after Wong's 1976 collaborative work with Kenneth Fletcher, 60 Unit; Bruise, where the two documented the ritual of withdrawing Fletcher's blood and inserting it into Wong's back via a syringe, the exhibition will also include Wong's photographic series 7 Day Activity from 1977.

Blood Brother, a companion piece to 60 Unit from 1976 originally thought to be lost and re-edited in 2024, will also be featured.

Wan's Bound by Everyday Necessities II, where he performed as a patient in a series of medically accurate photographs, will be showcased along rare objects from his archive including original drawings, handwritten notes and photocopies of medical manuals.

Wan is known for his black and white photographs "that straddled the line between instructional medical illustrations and Photoconceptualist interventions."

Pieces featured in Unit Bruises are on loan from the Vancouver Art Gallery and private collections of Paul Wong Projects and Sophie and Christos Dikeakos. The exhibit, intended for mature audiences, is part of the 2024 Capture Photography Festival Selected Exhibition Program.

The Marble in the Basement, a solo show by Hazel Meyer and curated by Zoë Chan, is a continuation of Meyer's research project into the legacy of feminist artist and experimental filmmaker Joyce Wieland that began in 2019.

“What gets stored in a shoebox? Deposited into an archive? Shoved into a corner? Catalogued as important?” wrote Meyer.

The gallery will be transformed into a basement in reference to a pile of marble scraps found in Wieland's basement after her death and feature an installation of sculptures, drawings, video and a textile work.

In addition to the immersive installation, Meyer and her collaborators, including a cute bug-eyed puppet named Marble, will activate artworks and objects on display with three site-specific performances.

Through the project, Meyer explores the questions surrounding artistic value, inheritance, collecting, queer kinship and official histories.

The exhibitions will run from April 20 to June 20 at RAG.

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