Sarah Pierce is a Dublin-based artist creating a new trilogy of solo exhibitions that engage with institutional histories. Pierce’s current exhibition, Lost Illusions/Illusions Perdues at the Walter Phillips Gallery, focuses on archival material accidently found or purposefully stored in the Visual Arts department as well as the Paul D. Fleck Library and Archives at The Banff Centre. I asked her about the process of creating an exhibition that connects material from disparate backgrounds.
“Some things in the show were never officially intended to be artwork,” she said. “Every archive has something that’s forgotten about and this exhibition focuses on how we deal with all the things that are forgotten, unseen, left behind – essentially how do we deal with things that are not officially accounted for.”
Pierce has taken specific pieces of archival material and connected them for the exhibition: ceramics left behind by Banff Centre artists; an open letter from artist Mark Lewis to a group of women who vandalized one of his photographs at the Centre in 1989; the walls used in the Gallery’s last exhibition as the platform for a new video created with personal photographs from members of the Alberta College of Art and Design’s Conceptual Art Club, and two 16mm digitized stop-motion films of stage maquettes produced by the renowned Czechoslovakian scenographer Josef Svoboda, (who was an instructor and set designer at The Banff Centre in the 1970s), that were accidently discovered by archival staff.
“The ceramics, the personal photograph, a letter about a piece that’s vandalized without actually showing the art work, and then this material that belonged to this incredibly famous scenographer – it’s that relationship between the official archive and the personal archive, the issue of censorship and the things that are just left behind.
“I like to let all of these things resonate in a larger installation. My installation work tends to be quite rambling and in a way that’s just miming the archive, because that’s how archives work. I like to blur all of the lines, to see how one thing leads to another. And what it all comes down to is how do we account for these things, these things that are forgotten about?”
Lost Illusions/Illusions Perdues by Sarah Pierce with the Conceptual Art Club and Josef Svoboda is open until March 9, 2014.