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Announcement
July 14, 2021

Image Bank

Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at University of British Columbia

Colour Research props, 1970. Photo: Michael Morris.  

View of Image Bank, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 2021. Photo: Rachel Topham Photography.

Mr. Peanut. Installation view, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 2021. Photo: Rachel Topham Photography.

Image Bank explores the artistic collaboration of Michael Morris and Vincent Trasov with others, including their most spectacular works—extended performances with props, such as Colour Bar Research (1970–78) and the Peanut campaign (1974) when Trasov ran for mayor of Vancouver as Mr. Peanut—alongside their extensive mail-art exchanges with other networkers such as Robert Filliou, Ant Farm and Ray Johnson’s New York Correspondence School. Mobilizing the artists associated with the newly founded Western Front artist-run centre (est. 1973), the exhibition includes collaborations with and amongst these artists (Martin Bartlett, Hank Bull, Kate Craig, General Idea, Gary Lee-Nova, Glenn Lewis, Eric Metcalfe, John Mitchell and others). Image Bank pulls films, photographs, drawings, collages and other ephemera from the Belkin’s Morris/Trasov Archive to track the collaborative history of Image Bank. Founded in 1970 and lasting to 1978, Image Bank was a project initiated by Morris, Trasov and Gary Lee-Nova that originated when they were all associated with Vancouver’s legendary artist-run Intermedia Society. The exhibition reflects on a period of optimism where artists envisioned a non-hierarchical alternative to the world of art galleries and museums, where images and ideas could be freely exchanged through the international postal system thereby creating an open-ended and decentralized method of networking that presages social media.

The presentation of Image Bank at the Belkin was originally planned for the summer of 2020 to coincide with the Belkin’s 25th anniversary and Image Bank’s 50th anniversary. Postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now presented in 2021, the exhibition remains a moment to mark these two joyous milestones. At this time, we would like to remember and acknowledge the generosity of Dr. Helen Belkin and her family who gifted the funds to build the gallery, which replaced the former UBC Fine Arts Gallery that since 1948 had been located in the basement of the old Main Library (now the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre). At the Belkin’s official opening on June 14, 1995, Dr. Belkin described how it celebrated the vision that her late husband Morris Belkin and former UBC President Norman MacKenzie shared—that one day there would be a fine arts precinct at the north end of campus dedicated “to promoting discussion and understanding of contemporary art.” The UBC Fine Arts Gallery was completely transformed by the move to the current award-winning building designed by the late architect Peter Cardew. While the former gallery was exclusively an exhibition space, the Belkin now houses and administers the University Art Collection and has amassed an impressive archive—including the Morris/Trasov Archive from which the Image Bank exhibition is composed—both of which have grown substantially since 1995 when the Gallery began to actively acquire artworks through purchase and generous donations. Dr. Belkin was also responsible for the establishment of permanent endowments at UBC that support the gallery’s curatorial activities, art purchases, as well as lectures and symposia. We are sincerely grateful for the continued support of the Belkin family and the Morris and Helen Belkin Foundation.

Image Bank is curated by Krist Gruijthuijsen, Maxine Kopsa and Scott Watson, and was first presented at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (June 22–September 1, 2019) with support from the Canada Council for the Arts Abroad Program. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition, featuring critical texts by AA Bronson, Zanna Gilbert, Krist Gruijthuijsen, Angie Keefer, Maxine Kopsa, Hadrien Laroche, Gary Lee-Nova, Felicity Tayler and Scott Watson. Image Bank is generously supported by the Audain Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and our Belkin Curator’s Forum members.

As part of the exhibition, the Belkin welcomes your participation in our 2021 Image Request List. For details, visit belkin.ubc.ca.

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