We spoke with Renée Van Halm about her upcoming project for Façade Festival 2016.
Burrard Arts Foundation: Your work is impressively varied, using painting, sculpture, and architecture as vehicles to create work that blends mediums to discuss artistic and cultural history. What would you like our readers to know about your existing body of work that might help them contextualize your upcoming project for Façade?
Renée Van Halm: My work has always had a synthetic quality. By that I mean synthesizing elements from different orders of things – architecture as sculpture or backgrounds with fields of colour. In this way each aspect of the combination places its partner into question or informs it to come up with a different meaning. The viewer flips back and forth between one way of knowing and another.
The Façade project is drawn from research into symmetry, different from my painting but related in how the source materials have been processed – through collage. The Façade project allows me to work with combinations of very intense colour not feasible when working with pigments.
BAF: What inspires you?
RVH: Pictures and what they mean.
BAF: How does working in projection mapping fit into, and contrast with, the work you’ve done before? It seems like a dramatic departure from your previous mediums – would you agree with that, or is there more continuity than might be immediately apparent?
RVH: It is lucky that for the last year I have been working on a public art piece that has evolved into a large painted window. This has lead me to work with light and transparency which has more in common with projected light than paintings on canvas do. Also the scale and the artwork’s relationship to actual architecture is similar. As a result the switch to projected light was quite seamless. Even the images I have used for Façade evolved from research I have been doing over the past year.
BAF: What do you think about projection mapping as an art?
RVH: Art is less related to the medium it is made in than it is to the intention of the artist and the content of the work.
BAF: What has the process been like? What have you learnt about your art through this process?
RVH: The timeline for production was short and the learning curve was steep. As an artist I work with static images and don’t usually consider sequencing or transitions in my work so considering how one image moves into another was something that I had to learn.
BAF: Describe your project for Façade. How did you come up with the idea, and what kind of effect are you hoping to have on the viewer?
RVH: My project for Façade consists of a number of diverse images taken from magazines. They are mostly unrecognizable backgrounds and architectural elements but also image of nature that in new combinations take on a different identities. The big coloured shapes often refer to redefined figures or subjects without actual identities.
I don’t usually work with symmetrical compositions, but I have wanted to work with these butterfly compositions for some time and given the symmetry of the VAG it seemed like a perfect fit. Symmetry inevitably reads in a anthropomorphic or zoomorphic way and is therefore comfortable for audiences to relate to.
BAF: For Façade we partnered with Go2Productions to bring the festival to life. What was it like working with them to complete your vision?
RVH: Go2 productions have been not only very helpful but inspiring. They made to process as straight forward as possible. With the exception of a couple of face to face meetings a lot of the interaction took place electronically with helpful feedback and suggestions.
BAF: What do you think about the coupling of art and technology?
RVH: This has been a great opportunity to marry the two. The best part of it is that brings art out of the studio and the gallery and engages with a large audience.
BAF: How did you come to collaborate with us here at the Burrard Arts Foundation?
RVH: I was invited to participate. Thanks for asking!
Renée’s project will be displayed Friday, September 2nd from 8pm to 12am on the Robson Street side of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Her work will also be shown on September 4th and September 5th for the encore and Grand Finale evenings. Façade Festival 2016 runs from August 30th to September 5th featuring the work of Rebecca Chaperon, Barry Doupé, Renée Van Halm, Eric Metcalfe and Chris Shier. Learn more about Façade Festival here and follow online #facadefest @burrardarts.
Text by Genevieve Michaels and Renée Van Halm