A Seat Next to the Ceiling

Friday October 11, 2019
7:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Dana Claxton, Mark Clintberg, Karen Kraven, Alvin Lucier, Arnaud Maggs, Althea Thauberger, and John Watt

October 11, 2019
Exhibition beings at 7:00 PM (Doors open at 6:30 PM)
Curated by Gregory Elgstrand
DK, Production Manager

Peter Brook is right when he says, we find Shakespeare “excruciatingly boring.” But not in the writing, rather in production after production set in the same Shakespearian times in the same old Shakespearian places.

All the world is a stage is a world is an exhibition. Theatrical scenery was mere suggestion in Elizabethan theatre. Typical late eighteenth and early nineteenth century theatre and opera houses utilised painted stock scenic backdrops to set the stage for theatrical action. Typically, a single painter would produce a theatres collection of scenes. The same forest scene for one play would provide the forest scene for many other plays; a drawing room the same for another and another. Downstage set decoration or props were minimal. The play was the thing.

When Goethe served as Director of the Weimar Theatre, he commissioned scenic painter Friedrich Christian Beuther to produce a collection of scene paintings for the theatre. Upon witnessing the quality of the work, Goethe arranged a one-night event in 1816 for theatre patrons in which the only work presented on stage was the sequence of scene paintings. The curtain opened to a painting and closed to applause, opened again to another painted scene, then closed and so on throughout a performance in which a performer never set foot on stage.

Theatre folds and unfolds in and over time. Exhibitions fold and unfold in and over space. A Seat Next to the Ceiling is an exhibition on a stage. It folds and unfolds in and over space and time. It’s exhibition time. The audience is seated. The lights dim. The curtain opens onto a scenic tableau. The curtain closes to applause. It opens again onto another scene. Curtain closes. And again.

Featuring work by Dana Claxton, Mark Clintberg, Karen Kraven, Alvin Lucier, Arnaud Maggs, Althea Thauberger, and John Watt..

Produced with support from the Killy Foundation and the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies through the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory in collaboration with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at The University of British Columbia.

Thank you to advisors Lorna Brown, Norman Armour, Patrick Rizotti, Marina Roy and Scott Watson. Thank you to the staff of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, and to Borja Brown and the staff and crew of the Frederic Wood Theatre.

Image credits: John Watt, Peepers (still), 1973, 15:00 minutes, B&W, Silent. Courtesy of the artist and V tape, Toronto