September 2012 Featured Artist – Adrian Fish

Bedford Park Triptych

Bedford Park Triptych, Inkjet Print, 36″x102″, 2011

Adrian Fish is a Toronto born photo-based artist and educator currently living in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Adrian holds an MFA from York University, as well as undergraduate accreditation from OCAD University in Toronto and the Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Oakville, ON.  His work has been shown nationally at numerous public institutions, artist-run centres and commercial galleries, as well as internationally in Atlanta GA, Brooklyn, NY, Chelsea, NY, Columbus, OH, and Tokyo, Japan.  Adrian is currently Assistant Professor in the Division of Media Art at NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is represented by Tatar Art Projects in Toronto.

Conversations in Practice
I have been a VANS member since 2010, when I was invited to participate as a mentor in the VANS Mentorship Program.  I was interested in getting involved in the program because it related to my passion of working with and talking about practices in photography. Within the VANS Mentorship program, I enjoyed working with artists committed to their practice but who are no longer institutionally engaged. VANS is a wonderful asset and an important resource for artists throughout the province of Nova Scotia.  At the best of times, deciding to pursue one’s art practice is a courageous decision, especially given cultural pressures to engage in more practical pursuits.  Having a community to help support one’s art practice as a viable means for survival is invaluable.

Maintenance
Maintaining a work/life balance can be a challenge under the best of conditions.  As artists, however, we frequently have the added demand of maintaining our practice in addition to our professional and personal lives.  As a faculty member at a post-secondary institution, my livelihood and practice are clearly articulated as demands of the same job.  In that sense, I consider myself very lucky, as I have the time and resources to maintain my photographic practice.

Psychic Spaces
In general, my photographic practice documents the physical (and by implication) psychic spaces integral to our acculturation to 21st century life.  Although my work borrows many of the visual conventions and tropes from branches of science such as anthropology, my subject matter choices are highly subjective.  I primarily focus on elements of education (both secular and sectarian) as well as recreation and entertainment. Many of my projects have been influenced by the students of the Neue Sachlichkeit school such as Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth and Berndt and Hilla Becher, in their pursuit of visual and conceptual similarities surrounding their particular subjects.. I am also interested in the language of architecture, and how this language can be reexamined through photography.

Contemplation
I have recently completed the Soto/Hasid Project, consisting of 44”x30” frontal photographic portraits of Hasidic Jewish practitioners facing an equal number of Zen Buddhist practitioners, which will be shown at Viewpoint Gallery in Halifax in February 2013. Currently, I am fascinated with water as contemporary iteration of our tribal needs and dependencies. During the Roman Empire, the control and use of water through systems of viaducts and baths for sustenance, personal hygiene, recreation and socialization in large part defined western civilization.  The Swimming Pool series (currently in progress) consists of triptych photographic assemblages of pools built within the last 60 years throughout the city of Toronto. The consistency of perspective invites viewers to compare and contrast architectural components of each given space, while contemplating the role and purpose of contemporary pools as mirrors to those of our classical ancestors.

Temples of Distraction
My upcoming work takes the phrase Temples of Distraction as a jumping-off point for further research and exploration.  Architectural theorist Charles Jencks, in his 1977 book The Language of Post-Modern Architecture originally used the term in a pejorative context to describe the often-inconsequential cultural benefits of some of the largest architectural projects of the time. I am interested in examining a global culture in need of distraction.  The success of a given spectacle within a Temple of Distraction can be measured by the degree to which participants are able to suspend disbelief. I recently had a very successful shoot in Edmonton as part of the research for Temples of Distraction, where I documented what is currently the largest indoor body of water in the world at the West Edmonton Mall.  Through increasingly advanced and ubiquitous technologies, the consequence of these sustained attempts at transfixing our attention is not only confusion between what is real versus what is convincingly represented, but also our preference for and addiction to this simulacrum. I am interested in photographing instances that exemplify a high degree of material and technological investment, but are of negligible social benefit.

See more of Adrian’s work on his website: http://afish.ca/.

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