Failure is certainly no stranger to anyone. It never ceases to emerge into our lives, whether in the form of unrequited love, a stilted career, rejection, financial troubles, health problems and, inevitably, death. Failure may be the everyday. But failure is also a construct. We can often learn to laugh at or even rejoice in what is deemed to be failure.
Within the visual arts the notion of failure assumes a unique potential. Strategic refusals – not adjusting, not progressing, not advancing, not consuming, not displaying – serve to challenge social and aesthetic expectations and point to an integrity in failure.
To explore the fruitful aspects of failure in contemporary culture, Vancouver artist and curator Séamus Kealy has invited nine visual artists from across Canada to participate in an exhibition at the recently-opened Belkin Satellite at 555 Hamilton Street. In this exhibition, the theme of failure is approached and investigated through video installations (Shawn Chappelle, Stéphane Gilot, Marlene Madison, Jonathan Wells), painting (Landon Mackenzie, Krisdy Shindler, Etienne Zack) and drawing (Heather Frise, Igor Santizo). Some of the artwork in the exhibition takes on the normative positioning of success and utilizes the idea of failure as a strategy for artistic practice, undoing more accepted notions of success within representation itself.