Offsite: Kota Ezawa
2 February–16 September 2012
Vancouver Art Gallery Offsite
Offsite is located on West Georgia Street between Thurlow and Bute Streets, Vancouver, Canada.
Kota Ezawa’s large-scale wooden tableau features a group of people raising their hands to vote in what appears to be a town hall meeting. The work is a visual representation of democracy by one of its most prevalent signifiers: the vote. Ezawa’s rendering is made from a found image and remains faithful to the original source by maintaining the photograph’s basic structure and framing. By eliminating details, the image refers less to a specific group of individuals, and more to a general sign of a collective body united in a common purpose. Presented at a larger-than-life size, the artwork takes on a monumental scale. The flat, wooden construction is evocative of a stage set or façade, while the exposed supporting structure behind suggests that the status of democracy is fragile and needs to be continually reinforced. In light of recent events in which the demand for societal reform has become an urgent issue both abroad and at home—from the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement—Ezawa’s portrait of democracy could not be more timely.
Kota Ezawa’s diverse projects take the form of digital animations, slide projections, lightboxes, paper cut-outs, intaglio etchings, ink drawings and wood sculptures. Using well-known images from the history of photography, film and the popular media, Ezawa’s pared-down renderings speak to the iconic status of photography—despite the elimination of much information, the source is often still recognizable. Through this elaborate transformation of existing images, Ezawa’s work comments on the role of photography in shaping our perception of reality, the spectacular nature of the media and the limits of memory.
Kota Ezawa has exhibited his work in solo exhibitions at Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH, St. Louis Art Museum, Charles H. Scott Gallery in Vancouver, Artpace in San Antonio and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. He has participated in group exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Art Institute of Chicago, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, as well as the 5th Seoul International Biennale of Media Art and the 2004 Shanghai Biennale. Ezawa lives in San Francisco and Berlin.
Offsite is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Kathleen Ritter, associate curator. Offsite is funded by the City of Vancouver through the Public Art Program. The Gallery recognizes Ian Gillespie, President, Westbank, Ben Yeung, President, Peterson Investment Group, and the residents at Shangri-La for their support of this space. Offsite: Kota Ezawa is generously supported by Visionary Partner: Michael O’Brian Family Foundation.