FUSE at Vancouver Art Gallery

Here’s to a decade.

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The halls of the Vancouver Art Gallery are lined with the classic oils of Italian painters and the abstract creatures of Geoffrey Farmer. Outside, in Robson Square, a DJ spins club music in front of a large screen projecting an electronic installation; behind, on the covered ice rink, an artist controls a drone that sprays paint when in flight. This is the characteristic nature of FUSE, the art gallery’s late night art and live performance party, which recently celebrated 10 years—it’s about the amalgamation of old art and new, the smashing together of yesterday and tomorrow. More than seeing how they contrast, though, FUSE’s goal is to bring art together in complementing and thought-provoking ways. “The primary focus of any art form is to focus on making the art better, making great art,” says Jay Dodge, who has been involved in producing FUSE for the last year.

The 10-year milestone was a big one, and the event, which was presented in partnership with the International Symposium of Electronic Art, drew a massive crowd of those ready to ponder the exhibitions—and special performance acts—with a glass of wine in hand. “It’s become a thing, not only for the audiences that come, but for the artists in town,” says Dodge. “A lot of artists use FUSE as part of the equation for how they might develop a work. It’s definitely part of the ecosystem of generating new and exciting work here in Vancouver.” The one-night-only installations were stirring and varied. Leonardo Selvaggio’s “URME Surveillance” created 3D-printed masks of the artist’s face, allowing attendees to disguise their own identity by adopting his; and Alex Munt and Justin Harvey of Kubrick or Korine™ created “24 Hour Franco”, a dissection of the celebrity image as it is ingested in Hollywood and art.

The pieces are designed in conjunction with the more permanent exhibitions, creating a storied mixture of traditional art and new media—something Dodge hopes to explore even more as the years continue. “We want to make it a meaningful experience between the artists there for a FUSE night and the art exhibiting in gallery, and really have it be about making work that works in that place.” This will be even easier and more exciting when the gallery eventually moves to its brand new location, which Dodge points out will be specifically designed to showcase and foster classic and exploratory art, unlike the current location, which used to be a courthouse. All that is to say, more good things are coming. “I think FUSE is so many different things to different people: for some people it’s a way they come and see all the exhibits at the gallery in a more lively atmosphere, and they can go to the bar and get a drink; for some folks, FUSE is a pickup joint; for others, it’s where they come on a regular basis to see cutting edge contemporary performances,” says Dodge. “Museums and galleries have this sort of crystal bell around them, and FUSE is a great way to break down those barriers and open those doors wide.” It’s the coming together of diverse patrons and art forms, a happy chaos among the calm.

Images courtesy of the artists.

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Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6Z 2H7, 604-662-4719.

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August 24, 2015