After a contracted assailant smashed Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan’s knee with a baton in January 1994, people started to pay attention to figure skating. Likewise, sensation and sabotage have been titillating aspects of institutional critique – revitalizing the ‘sport’ of contemporary art exhibitions. Both are present in mild doses at the Contemporary Art Gallery (CAG) in Vancouver for an exhibition titled ‘An Invitation to an Infiltration’, guest curated by Eric Fredericksen.
An international group of artists – Fia Backström (New York/Stockholm), Lucy Clout (London), Hadley+Maxwell (Berlin), Jonathan Middleton (Vancouver), Dexter Sinister (New York), Holly Ward (Vancouver) and Jordan Wolfson (Berlin/New York) – were invited to create works for Fredericksen’s self-proclaimed ‘curatorial stunt’. Against the backdrop of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, hosted in Vancouver, various interventions are being staged at the CAG, posing challenges to the institution while commenting on the competitive nature of group shows. The results are experimental, playful, sometimes ephemeral and often annoying.
Boxes of Pepsi stacked in the form of a medal podium make up Ward’s Operation Podium (2010), a wry gesture given that Coca-Cola is an official Olympic sponsor. It is tokenistic but defiant, as the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, one of the exhibition’s chief funders, has issued a clause prohibiting artists from making negative remarks about corporate sponsors. Visitors can consider this form of censorship while sipping sodas on Fia Backström’s Game – Set – Match (2010), a table set painted in United Nations Blue where a conversation on strategy between a game theorist and hockey coach will later take place.