Twelve Subjects


Colour photographs (series of 12)

Displays, cre­ated by library staff and com­mu­nity groups, can be found through­out the many areas of the library, draw­ing atten­tion to national days of remem­brance, sea­sonal hol­i­days, and top­ics of inter­est to library users, and high­light­ing dif­fer­ent books and resources. Often found on the esca­la­tor land­ings, framed by the Copier room wall, these dis­plays use famil­iar mate­ri­als and pre­sen­ta­tion tech­niques to ani­mate the space of the library.

Jil­lian Pritchard and Dan Star­ling were intrigued by these rotat­ing dis­plays, which might be seen as ‘exhi­bi­tions from the col­lec­tion’. The ‘cura­tor’ of the dis­play chooses works from the VPL hold­ings, and places them together with let­ter­ing, fab­ric, paper and other mate­ri­als to lend an inter­pre­ta­tion of the pub­lished works. Dis­tin­guished by their acces­si­ble, clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and econ­omy of means, the dis­plays employ the lan­guage of art – colour, tex­ture, shape and form – to catch the eye of the library patron.

The artists repli­cated, within their stu­dio, the red wall of the pho­to­copy room and the sur­round­ing area. Hav­ing con­structed a set, they cre­ated twelve dis­plays of their own, and pho­tographed them using a stan­dard cam­era dis­tance. The large-scale pho­tographs were then installed on the red wall in the library, rotat­ing monthly for one year. Twelve Sub­jects uses the lan­guage and mate­ri­als of display-making to tackle sub­jects of con­cern to artists, such as acces­si­bil­ity and mean­ing, the rela­tion­ship of form to con­tent, and other issues artists face as they set out to com­mu­ni­cate with an audi­ence. Pre­sent­ing a pho­to­graph of the dis­play, rather than their dis­play itself, intro­duces a crit­i­cal dis­tance from objects and mate­ri­als doc­u­mented, frames the work as ‘art’, and pro­vides a humor­ous take on the role of the artist in con­tem­po­rary culture.

Photo: Scott Massey. Group Search was made pos­si­ble through the invalu­able con­tri­bu­tions of The Canada Coun­cil for the Arts, the BC Arts Coun­cil, the Spirit of BC Arts Fund, the Van­cou­ver Foun­da­tion, Emily Carr Insti­tute of Art and Design and Gen­er­a­tion Printing.