A Love Letter to Untitled Art Space

Photo by Lauren D. Zbarsky

Photo by Lauren D. Zbarsky

The final show at 436 Columbia's Untitled Art Space, The Space Between, glowed through the windows on the last two weekends of October. The small yet affecting spot is where founder and curator Lauren D. Zbarsky gathered local and international artists and exhibited a year and a half’s worth of meaningful collaborations. True to Untitled’s mandate, The Space Between was an inter-media collaboration of artists Alysha Farling, Pat Christie, Kerry Chambers, was co-curated by Zbarsky and myself, Katherine Chan. I can offer a representative glimpse of the time, heart, and effort that went into Untitled's last show: Farling made five trips within two weeks to Vancouver from Victoria, where she is based. Everyone involved was buzzing in and out of the gallery during the days and hours leading up to the show, all the while finding time to make fun of each other while building an enormous wooden structure and eating tacos in the backroom. We all pretty much lived and breathed The Space Between for the whole week, through the entire process at the gallery prior to the opening night on Friday, October 21st.

Photo by Lauren D. Zbarsky

Photo by Lauren D. Zbarsky

The concept of the show tried to illuminate the forgotten, the blind spots, the negatives of the positives, the space in between the obvious. We wanted to create a structure in which viewers were exposed to the metaphysical, nostalgic space and their own interpretation. The main component of The Space Between was the structure—a wooden human-sized box, adorned with wooden tiles and discs, all hand-crafted by Pat Christie, resident at Yew Woodshop and founder of SPACE in East Van. Alysha Farling created a world within the structure; something like a twisted village of miniature houses made with found objects. The final touches to Farling’s miniatures world came from the curators—illuminated by LED lights and enclosed by ominous branches looming in from the ceiling—the alternate universe that existed inside the structure was complete. Once leaving the experience inside the box, the viewer was transported into another altered world by Kerry Chambers. Large abstracted moving images of wild colours and monochromatic land and seascapes expanded on the walls of the gallery, surrounding the structure in the centre. The show existed as an “outside” space—liminal and external to the perceived reality. We hoped participants would enter the gallery from the world in which we live our everyday lives and, once inside, be able to fully immerse themselves in a momentary dream world—known from their own personal experience of the space between.

Photo by Lauren D. Zbarsky

Photo by Lauren D. Zbarsky

Photo by Lauren D. Zbarsky

Photo by Lauren D. Zbarsky

To fully comprehend the energy and event that went down at Untitled Art Space that evening, one had to be there. Nothing quite captured Untitled better than the opening night of The Space Between. The neighbors of Columbia block, the best of friends, the most bad-ass women, and the weirdest weirdos came through. People participated and experienced; wooed and wowed within the structure. They, too, felt it: the energy was intense, positive and spicy, and our community congregated. The evening was all the more electrified when an artist from New York City, who came to see Farling’s work, performed an impromptu, outlandish puppet show just outside the doors of the gallery after midnight. It was with a bang that Untitled played host to the most vibrant parts of Vancouver's art scene. Condolences were paid by those who had frequented the gallery and messages rushed in during the following days to inquire about the show. Zbarsky expressed to me once how taken aback she was with people’s inability to disassociate an identity from a space. “You’re not your body”, she said to me. We have admirable ambitions for Untitled and are looking towards the future beyond the walls of the beloved 436 Columbia St. box. Untitled Art Space isn’t “gone” or “finished,” it’s only evolving from where it all began.

Photo by Lauren D. Zbarsky

Photo by Lauren D. Zbarsky

Photo by Lauren D. Zbarsky

Photo by Lauren D. Zbarsky