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'Scream pots' muffle cries at West Van Museum’s new exhibit
Suppression and emotional distress in contemporary society are the themes of West Vancouver Museum’s new exhibit, Dialect of Failure.
Thirty terracotta “scream pots” resembling human organs make up one component of the show where visitors can pick up a pot and scream into it. The diversity of shapes give each cry a unique muffled and repressed sound.
In another area, a digital projection captures the act of someone forcibly throwing lumps of clay against a sheet of drywall. The audible impact of the clay hitting the wall is recorded, as well as the marks left behind when they hit the floor.
Adjacent to the projector stands the actual sheet of drywall with its accumulation of stains. The folded and flattened lumps of clay lay on the floor, now earthy red-brown and dried by firing in a kiln.
“A lot of events that happen in our time play a role in our head. We can’t really do anything about it, whether we morally agree or not,” explains Dialect of Failure’s North Van-based artist Babak Golkar at a coffee shop near the museum.
“These objects replace this metaphor. No one hears you scream, and with the pots still no one does.
“Even if they do, it’s not a proper scream, it’s a hum.”
People are compelled to react, or to scream, in response to fear or pent-up emotion from pressures that are often unexplainable by reason, he says, adding everyone is political whether they want to be or not.
Dialect of Failure doesn’t examine specific events in society, but suppressive, contemporary experiences in general. It’s up to each viewer — or participant — to come to their own conclusions about the meaning of the exhibit.
“There are external pressures on all of us that affect us,” he explains.
Born in the U.S. and raised in Tehran, Iran, Golkar has lived between Canada and the Middle East since 1996.
While living in the Lower Mainland, he received a bachelor of fine arts from Emily Carr and a master of fine arts from UBC.
His work has been exhibited locally and internationally, including at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, BrotKunsthalle in Vienna and Southern Exposure in Los Angeles.
Golkar emphasizes that Dialect of Failure isn’t a static display. The scream pots, especially, are meant for interaction.
“These works aren’t meant to sit in a museum by themselves… They’re meant to be engaged.”
Dialect of Failure opens Oct. 10 at 7 p.m at the West Vancouver Museum (680 17th St.). Drop by the museum on Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. for an artist talk. In conjunction with the show, the museum in hosting the launch of exhibition catalogue Babak Golkar: Ground for Standing and Understanding.