When the Audain Art Museum invited Patrik Andersson to guest curate an exhibit, he turned to the museum itself for inspiration.
“I was interested in the fact that the museum is a stone’s throw away from Canada’s second-biggest skate park,” says Andersson, an associate professor with Emily Carr University who teaches contemporary art.
“I started teaching full time in 1999. Over the years, a lot of the students that have come out of there and developed really interesting practices have also been involved in the skateboard world. I’ve always been curious about that relationship.”
And, give or take some pandemic-fuelled changes, that’s how Out of Control: The Concrete Art of Skateboarding was born. While the full exhibit (curated in collaboration with the museum’s Gail & Stephen A. Jarislowsky curator Kiriko Watanabe) is slated to open in the fall, on Aug. 18, a “teaser” portion of the show will open ahead of the main event.
Installed in the museum’s Upper Gallery, it will feature five artists who work in different mediums: Karin Bubaš, a Vancouver-based photo conceptualist artist; Andrew Dadson, a multidisciplinary artist with a film in the exhibit; Hannah Dubois, who will have both a film and three lightbox photographs featured; Christian Huizenga, who created architectural models; and Alex Morrison, whose five-channel projection will be on display.
“I would say that this section brings together artworks that respond to confined circumstances of living in a suburban, middle-class environment,” Andersson says. “Most of the work on this floor features tropes of rebellion that we associate with skateboarding, but also forms of rebellion we don’t associate with skateboarding.”
One example is Morrison’s video Housewrecker. Back in 2000, the art school graduate recorded skateboarders destroying the inside of a house that was slated to be demolished.
“People were carrying around cameras already—and eventually they’d put it on social media, but in those days, you might make a VHS out of it. Alex decided to make artwork out of it. By doing so he was both an insider and outsider to his situation. I was very interested in this,” Andersson says.
Throughout the entire exhibit, Andersson endeavoured to include a diverse range of artists and perspectives (although COVID nudged him in a more B.C.-focused direction).
Dubois’ pieces, for example, dig into themes of racism, sexism, and colonialism through the story of three BIPOC skaters.
“There were a lot of things I tried to avoid,” Andersson says. “I don’t think there’s any reference in the entire show of skateboarding as a sport—that is completely void in this exhibition. Yes, I know skateboarding is officially a sport; it’s in the Olympics, but it’s not what the show is focused on. On the other hand, the exhibition is designed to appeal or evoke. It operates in the space between how a skateboarder thinks about the environment, but also how a viewer navigates a museum. I’ve designed the whole show almost as an obstacle course.”
But, he adds: “I don’t want to make it sound like it will be a lot of work. There’s a lot of beautiful work in it.”
Meanwhile, the popular Alta + Audain fine dining art experience that has been taking place every Friday through the summer will also tap into the skateboard theme on Aug. 19.
That will vary from “skater snacks” (including smoked popcorn, street corn crema, and tortilla chips) to “99¢ pizza slice” (Wagyu tartare, sturgeon caviar crème fraiche, smoked cheddar, tomato conserve and onion brioche).
Tickets are $99 per person at audainartmuseum.com/alta.
For more on the exhibit, visit audainartmuseum.com/upcoming-exhibitions.