The End of the World as We Know It


The premise behind this exhibition is the impending end date of a 5,125 year long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar used by the Mayan Civilization to which many have ascribed a long list of prophetic predictions ranging from the cataclysmic to the transformative. The magic date when all this is predicted to take place is December 21, 2012 and in honour of this auspicious date we will celebrate here with the last great fundraiser of 2012 the End of the World Party. Tickets for this multimedia spectacular are limited and will be available for purchase starting on Friday, November 9th .

This project is part of our ongoing efforts to challenge the public's view of what a public art gallery is and how to engage in our programs. We are also looking to address the gap between generations and in doing so build bridges of understanding and provide opportunities for community dialogue. Two years ago we presented an exhibition by the Vancouver artist Keith Langergraber where we built a skateboard ramp in the gallery as part of his exhibition. We then invited the community to come and use the skateboard ramp over the course of the exhibition, in essence having them animate the work. In each of the six weeks of the End of the World exhibition, the Penticton Art Gallery will host a team of artists comprising of at least two guest DJs along with a host of visual artists, computer programmers and lighting designers who will be part of a weekly artist in residency program designed to explore different aspects of contemporary art, music and culture. Each week’s resident artists will transform the gallery space to reflect the unique and diverse range of artistic expression found within their community, while providing those in attendance with a visual and audio feast. Each weekend will also feature a series of roundtable discussions and/or workshops designed to engage a wide range of professionals from the greater community along with the participating artist. The intent is to encourage open and honest community dialogue, while providing unique opportunities for our community’s artists and youth to receive mentoring and information on the pros and cons of participating in this cultural community.

I am of the thinking that the world is on the precipice of a major transformational shift and reviewing our recent past and looking at the state of the world around us,  it’s easy to see that there is change in the air. What this will ultimately look like has yet to be seen and how this may manifest is anybody’s guess, but one thing I think we can all agree on is that we cannot continue on our current path unabated and something has got to give.

This exhibition has taken on many a guise and has evolved numerous times since I first came up with the idea of exploring the state of our civilization today through the eyes of those communities one might often refer to as on the fringe of society. I wanted to bring together communities of artists from across the province and have them converge here at the Penticton Art Gallery and celebrate the art, music, ideas and personalities behind their community and share in their achievements and explore the issues and challenges they are facing amongst themselves and with the mainstream. This is intended to be a forum where the line between the artist, performer and you the audience is blurred and you become a part of the installation and the event.

The exhibition will take place over six consecutive weekends and will feature six unique teams of artists from across the province.  The event will run for three days each week only with Friday night being the happening which will run from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. followed by two days of interactive workshops and programs on both the Saturday and Sunday between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. each day. All the events are open to the public and admission is by donations except for the End of the World Party to be held on Friday December 21st from 7 pm – 1 am. The field of participating artists represent a wide range of artistic disciplines ranging from experimental video and film, visual arts, theater, live and electronic music, performance art and much more. Each week will also be accompanied by a series of hands on workshops and lectures exploring the art, culture and concerns affecting each community of artists and by extrapolation our own community. Workshops will be a cultural mix and cover topics from making art, drug use and harm reduction, mixing music, sexual health, digital filmmaking, electronic music, sound exploration, bullying, gender issues, history of Hip Hop, First Nations Culture and more.

This exhibition couldn't also come at a better time as the recent spate of tragic deaths due to individuals having taken tainted Ecstasy has once again cast a dark shadow over the rave community, and the tragic death of Amanda Todd has once again cast a spotlight on bullying. The workshops will provide frank and in depth discussions on all aspects of the culture and will bring together a range of experts, health professionals and artists in a highly publicized public forum to answer questions regarding all aspects of their culture and community.

I am excited to see what will transpire over the course of this exhibition and to watch how our community chooses to engage in this program. Should the world end on December 21, 2012 we can rest assured that we went out in a creative blaze of glory and should life continue as it always has I have no doubt that the legacy of this exhibition will continue to benefit the gallery and our community for years to come. This exhibit will certainly expand our audience base and show the incredible range and diversity of art out in our community while breaking down barriers and misconceptions of each of the communities of artists represented each of the six weeks of the exhibition. I would be lying if I said this exhibition was easy and it has proved to be quite an amazing undertaking and will either be a runaway success or an incredible experiment that made some noise and whose legacy may not be fully realized for many years to come. Either way I do firmly believe the role of the gallery is to take risks and to challenge the way the public interacts with the arts and by default with each other and in doing do open up the beginnings of a dialogue and encourage greater creativity in our daily lives.    

These are exciting times and as mentioned earlier, I doubt the world will end but I do see us standing on the precipice and we will collectively be forced to make some hard decisions in the not too distant future.

This exhibition would not have been possible if not for the generous support and belief in this project and its concept by all the participating artists and their communities and the generosity of the Vancouver Foundation which has partnered with us and made it possible.  The Vancouver Foundation helps build more vibrant and resilient communities in B.C. by harnessing the gifts of energy, ideas, time, and money from caring citizens to make meaningful and lasting impacts. The Vancouver Foundation is Canada’s largest community foundation and has been investing in communities since 1943.  To find out more please visit their website at: www.vancouverfoundation.ca.