Nanaimo art professor expands on award-winning short film

Vancouver Island University's Gregory Ball participates in art gallery show in Victoria

Vancouver Island University art professor Gregory Ball participates in a gallery show in Victoria.

Vancouver Island University art professor Gregory Ball participates in a gallery show in Victoria.

With a well-worn oil drum perched on a creaky stand and a continuous screening of his “post-punk” video You Suck, Gregory Ball is quick to point out that his latest art installation isn’t pretty.

“As the drum moves, it wobbles and there’s a whining noise. It’s very irritating,” said the Vancouver Island University visual arts professor.

Ball is one of five BC artists featured in Throw Down, a show that opens Friday (Jan. 27) at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

The show is intended to use satire and humour to spark contemplation and critique of socio-political issues and also includes works by Sonny Assu, Megan Dickie, Tyler Hodgins and Alison MacTaggart.

The gallery offers background to the title of the show which includes sculpture, video, photography and public interventions: “To throw down can mean many things: to celebrate in a big way, to fight for something meaningful, or to contribute resources to make something happen.”

The gallery offers a second rationale for the show: “To create a forum in which the current state of art production — its presentation and sustainability — could be discussed, specifically in relation to the current state of arts funding in British Columbia. In essence, it is the act of artists throwing down their livelihoods that is the driving force sustaining and supporting the visual arts.”

Ball was eager to take part and expand on his animated video project which won an award for best music at the Vancouver Island Short Film Festival in 2009.

“The theme of Throw Down takes into account the whole idea of being an artist in BC,” says Ball. “As artists, where are we situating ourselves in our culture? How do we make our work? How do we survive?”

With the assistance of Visual Arts instructor Jason Gress and technician Scott Leaf, Ball has created a multi-faceted installation. A wall-mounted light box illuminates stark images of a character ranting, with liberal use of profanity, to express rage against environmental degradation, consumer excess and social inequity. The short film of that rant is projected onto a disc hanging above the battered oil drum and a stack of wooden pallets.

Ball says the inspiration for including the oil drum came from the strike at Vancouver Island University last spring. During the 2011 strike at Vancouver Island University, a convening area formed around an oil drum in which wood was burned to keep the striking employees warm. What evolved at this meeting place was the sharing of collective stories and opportunities for meaningful dialogue.”

A reception will be held at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria 8 p.m., Friday. A panel discussion with the artists will be held 1 p.m., Saturday (Jan. 28).

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