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Ornamental Cookery exhibit launches as part of Capture Photography Festival

Designed for the Audain Art Museum’s upstairs gallery, new show by Vancouver’s Svava Tergesen runs until June 11
Svava Tergesen’s new exhibit, Ornamental Cookery, which includes Granny Smith, Arctic Char, is running at the Audain Art Museum as part of the Capture Photography Festival until June 11.


The Audain Art Museum kicked off a new series with the launch of its Svava Tergesen: Ornamental Cookery exhibit on April 1.

Running as part of Vancouver’s Capture Photography Festival, the solo show features 14 framed pieces, as well as a large-scale vinyl installation.

“This is the first in a series of solo shows we’re going to offer emerging and mid-career artists upstairs,” says Curtis Collins, director and chief curator at the museum. “It will really give younger artists new opportunities as well.”

For this exhibit, Collins reached out to Emmy Lee Wall, executive director of the Capture Photography Festival (running in Vancouver this month), to see if the festival would like to feature an artist in the upstairs gallery at the museum—making it the first exhibit outside city limits to run as part of the festival.

She suggested Tergesen, and Collins invited the two of them to Whistler to see the gallery space that would inspire the pieces.

“We said, ‘We really want to do site-based work that takes advantage of the architecture,’” Collins adds. “She conceived of this floor-to-ceiling application, designed specifically to our space.”

For the show, in addition to her photographs, Tergesen combined images from vintage cookbooks, museum archives, and even etiquette manuals to create collages that depict domestic objects in a new light. “She has great promise,” Collins says. “She travelled to Whistler a few times to check out the space and start thinking about the possibilities. What she came up with is pretty interesting.”

The exhibit’s title—Ornamental Cookery—meanwhile, is a nod to an essay written by French critic, writer, and literary theorist Roland Barthes in which he parsed the recipes and cooking featured in 1950s French women’s magazines.

The resulting images range from an imperfect apple grafted with fish skin, to pale rose alongside slabs of meat, and an ornate, era-specific green cake adorned with vines and flowers snaking off the arrangement.

“It’s an aesthetic that’s kind of banal, but very interesting at the same time. Pictures of cakes and bacon, it’s not something you would normally focus on in an art exhibition context,” Collins says.

Another feature of the show is the vinyl application “curtains” affixed to the walls (with the help of Whistler’s Cutting Edge Signs) upon which the images are displayed.

“It’s gone through a number of different iterations over the last six months,” Collins says. “This is what she finally landed on. All along it was meant to be site-based work, but it has evolved over time.”

Set to run until June 11, the show offers visitors a diverse range alongside the permanent collection and the larger special exhibit, The Collectors’ Cosmos: The Meakins-McClaran Print Collection, open until mid-May.

“To have that playing off against Dutch prints and the permanent collection is a really nice combination,” Collins says. “This is one of the first times we’ve had the whole building open post-COVID.”

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