Geoffrey Farmer creates complex installations that consist of multiple elements distributed throughout the gallery space. These installations activate narratives, which are drawn from diverse sources including social history, popular culture, art history and literature. The exhibition at Witte de With will be a playful experiment that re-explores an existing work titled Airliner Open Studio (2006). It will feature elements of story-telling, writing, performance and process-based sculpture.

Airliner Open Studio is a work structured around a full-scale aircraft cabin, complete with seats, overhead lockers, emergency lighting and cabin windows. Composed of real and false components, this installation transforms the gallery into a stage-set, revealing the influence of the film industry (ever-present in Vancouver) on Farmer’s work, and his fascination with the theatrical: with staging, improvisation, role-play and self-disguise. The artist will use this interior as a rehearsal space and as a starting point for a number of performances – some scripted, some improvised, alone and with others – performed live in the exhibition space or recorded on video and then presented in the gallery.

Farmer’s preoccupation with the theatrical is also evident in the form adopted by his exhibitions, which enact a real-time staging of change and evolution. Seeking to challenge the apparent timeless neutrality of the gallery and to render the processes of construction visible, he inverts the usual temporality of the exhibition format. Instead of the opening night marking the completion of an installation period, for Farmer it is merely the beginning. He often transforms his installations over the course of an exhibition, working through the night to create changes for visitors to discover each morning, with new elements appearing, others disappearing or being translated into new forms. In this way, his work is “actively worked out in front of the viewer over the duration of the exhibition” (artist’s statement, 2007).

Farmer will be at Witte de With throughout April, making frequent changes to his installation. For this reason, visitors in the first month of the exhibition will be given tickets that allow them to revisit the show, in order to highlight the importance of transformation and process in Farmer’s work.

Publication: Witte de With will publish a Source Book on Farmer’s work, edited by Nicolaus Schafhausen, Monika Szewczyk and Zoë Gray, featuring an introduction by Nicolaus Schafhausen, essays by Diedrich Diederichsen, Thierry Davila and Vanessa Desclaux, and an interview with the artist by Zoë Gray. ISBN: 978-90-73362-79-6. Price: 10 euros. Publication date: Mid June 2008.

—With Thanks To:

The Canadian Embassy, The Hague; The Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery, University of British Columbia; Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada