Radial Change at the Belkin is ‘the project of bringing someone back into view’

“How is an archive made?” This was one question on Lorna Brown’s mind during the curation of Radial Change.

Brown is the curator of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery’s newest exhibit Beginning with the Seventies: Radial Change, which brings forward impactful archived works that discuss politics, gender, sexuality and race. However, these artworks can be described as relevant first and historical second.

Radial Change was inspired by the title of a dance work by Helen Goodwin. Goodwin was an influential choreographer and dancer in the 1960s-1970s Vancouver art scene, whose strong presence in the community faded with little to document her practice following her suicide.

Noting this loss, Brown began asking herself, “What’s the project of bringing someone back into view?”

In this case, such efforts included displaying formerly unseen photographs of Goodwin’s Environmental Opera and commissioning artists Michael de Courcy and Evann Siebenns to produce multi-media projects that bring her work to the present. Mixing the old with the new makes “it a much more rich, detailed and contradictory and problematized process of looking at difficult histories,” said Brown.

To compliment these works, Brown also included other archived artists’ works and relics of past performances. The exhibit’s opening night was additionally marked by the launch of Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn’s The Making of an Archive, a project that collects the everyday photographs of Canadian immigrants to include their voices in our historical narrative.

Through the exhibit, visitors can feel that Brown is challenging ideas of how art historians curate and retell the past. Radial Change will be on display at the Belkin until August 12, 2018.