Vikky Alexander is one of Vancouver’s most acclaimed artists and is a leading practitioner in the field of phto-conceptualism. According to the Capture Photography Festival’s catalogue (p 69) she investigates “culture’s appropriation and substitution of nature as it is manifest in mass-market interior design items such as photomurals of scenic landscapes, wood veneers, and decorative mirrors. Her work recognizes the artificial as a place for utopian fantasy, a surreal space where the natural is recreated in an improved or even perfected form”.
From the images in the exhibition at Chernoff Fine Art, I couldn’t identify any mass-market interior design items, or anything vaguely connected to consumerism, but these feature on her website.
The original body of work which was exhibited in 1985 in Vancouver began as sandwiched 35mm colour slides which she then converted into black and white prints and framed each with a coloured Plexiglass overlay. In 2008 she revisited this oeuvre by making colour Cibachrome prints from the original sandwiched sides. The images consist of appropriated images from magazines and calendars and her own landscape prints.
The images appeal more to the female gaze than the male gaze, having a dreamlike, romantic feel to them. There is a love story thread and one of desire that runs through this small collection of images on display. Although all the images had a surreal feel to them, some of the images felt a little too commercial, like the one directly above. I could easily see the image of the couple in an advertisement for engagement rings or something similar.
The gallery space was quite tiny, basically two walls in the front entrance of the store. On the other side of the main display wall were samples of frames, a few other prints that were for sale, including one by Jeff Wall which I have not seen before and which I found rather unusual for a Jeff Wall print. It did not have the clarity that Wall’s work usually displays, the majority of the print being slightly out of focus (not just my quick capture on the point and shoot camera). The print is also quite small (13 1/4 x 10 inches) and is retailing for CAD $5,400. Maybe this is one of those times Wall actually had a camera with him while he was on one of his walks and he just happened to snap this scene.
Capture Photography Festival. (2017) Between Dreaming and Living. Vancouver: Chernoff Fine Art.