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At Work (Or Gallery 1983)

Ian Wallace
Art Metropole
56 × 36 × 0.1 cm
Print, Art Metropole Edition

At Work (Or Gallery 1983) is an inkjet print that documents the street view of Ian Wallace’s performance of reading during his solo exhibition titled At Work at the Or Gallery, Vancouver, in 1983. In order to satirize himself as an intellectual-come-artist, Wallace presented himself reading quietly at a table. The book that he was reading was The Concept of Irony by Soren Kierkegaard. In part, the irony of this work is that it was simultaneously illusory and actual, insofar as the invisible content of thought is given substance through its self-imaging as a performance. In order to emphasize the artist’s activity as an image, Wallace excluded the audience from the exhibition space so that he could only be observed from the street-front window of the gallery, which framed the interior space as a three-dimensional picture. This window provided the picture frame for a short super-8 film (later transferred to DVD) that documented the performance. During the course of the exhibition Wallace also made drawings and photographs that showed him reading at the table in the gallery. In effect therefore, although he was seen to be producing nothing obviously artistic, the gallery in fact became his studio for the duration of the exhibition.

Ian Wallace was born in Shoreham, England in 1943. After completing his studies at the University of British Columbia and graduating with a Master’s Degree in Art History, he taught art history at UBC from 1967 to 1970 and at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design from 1972 to 1998.

Wallace has been active in the creation, promotion and appreciation of innovative processes in contemporary art practice through writing, teaching and exhibiting his work. Wallace has been an influential figure in the development of an internationally acknowledged photographic and conceptual art practice in Vancouver.

  1. titled At Work (Or Gallery 1983)

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