Long Xi Vlessing: A Bag Full of Acorns, A Bag Full of Ashes (2017-2023)
April 7 - May 20, 2023
Olumoroti Soji-George, curator, writes:
In an increasingly public social milieu, photographs realize the voyeuristic possibility of being seen having a private moment in a public world. Suspending both fleeting strangers and near acquaintances in jarring light and colour, Vlessing's photographs depict abrupt subjects in revelatory moments— in the throes of primal fear, contending with social upheaval, or perhaps in mere moments of contemplation, awkwardness, or acorn-collecting.
A middle-aged woman worships the sun on a park bench; a young boy in isolation on a crowded beach plays with sand; three figures outside a market watch catastrophe unfold while another is unaware - each image [...] features colourful and quiet moments of everyday life suspended in frames shaped by [his] subconscious.
Emerging from the artist’s intrigue, curiosity, restlessness, and ruminations about the politics of everyday life, [...] the artist raises questions about the implications that arise when private moments of contemplation, uncertainty and desire make themselves present in the public realm and open themselves up to an array of entanglements that includes inquisitive photography, aesthetic discourse and the ever-pervasive politics of the times that we find ourselves situated in.
With these photographs in particular imagining privileged subjects anxious about change, laconic text and title offer binary interpretations, mirroring a privileged gaze and leaning on imagination rather than critical vision. The artist invites us to consider how chance moments can be written as staged fakes: emotions as mere simulacra and the body as a sign in circulation.
His images [also] celebrate the indulgences of city living and the ability to see oneself in another. This lighthearted nature of contriving lore for the bodies we encounter as we roam our shared locale dispels the notion of social disconnect being inherent to [the city...]. For Vlessing, the beauty resides in quotidian moments that act as symbols of transformation, anxiety, revelation, and, principally, a shared humanity.
Olumoroti Soji-George is a curator, film theorist, writer, and educator based in Vancouver, with an MA in contemporary art studies from Simon Fraser University. He is a director of the Black Arts Centre, and the artistic director of Gallery Gachet in Vancouver.