I was tasked by the humour section to visit UBC’s Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery as part of its expansion into art coverage (and conquest of the culture section). But the Belkin was closed because of the snow, or at least that’s what I told my editor — I did not check.
So instead, I reviewed a far deeper and more interesting (probably) art exhibition happening across campus which invited artists to forage (no funding was provided) for inspiration and materials in response to themes of personhood and forthcoming transportation collapse. Artists primarily used snow and twigs to make humanoid figures, though the occasional carrot can be found on some of the works.
The most prominent work is the sculpture titled Untitled (2024) by anonymous, which distills the essence of the snow and carrot media. Instead of embracing the craft and artisanship of sculpture, with Untitled, the anonymous artist elevates the practice to shower thought renown.
Why question whether abstract, modern paintings are art when there’s a sustainable, locally-crafted work melting into nothingness alongside our planet’s climate?
Why care about a “museum” out past Buchanan when Untitled can be admired from the bus loop? Where Untitled questions the danger of our climate, a work by anonymous (no relation, or maybe some relation idk), Untitled (2024), forces the viewer to grapple with their own fallibility. Untitled first appears as a small person made of snow with twee twigs, inviting a closer look. Yet the power of this work lies not in this lure but the trapping of the viewer on a thin sheet of ice, where they will fall flat on their bottom (I swear this didn’t only happen to me).
Not only a confrontation with one’s own mortality, Untitled disrupts the status quo — first-years outside Vanier Commonsblock can witness intrepid upper-years (who are clearly superior for being exhausted and bitter from prolonged exposure to academia) make fools of themselves. Way better than some museum we have free access to as students!
Like Untitled, anonymous’s (maybe the same anonymous as before?) work Untitled (2024) subverts expectations. Snow sculptures of human figures carry a positive connotation in popular culture, and their subjects are presumed to be joyous and merry.
Untitled, however, presents a hidden layer of trauma underneath the socially required happy face. It is placed away from crowds, confronting its inevitable decomposition. The figure can no longer stand to face the world. Instead, it sits upside down with its face to an inner world: concrete. Bet they don’t have anything that introspective and je ne sais quoi at Belkin.
Untitled, Untitled, and Untitled uncover the layers of the UBC student’s psyche. Untitled and Untitled first question the viewer’s conceptions, setting the foundation for Untitled and Untitled to confront inner questioning and worry.
Ok fine, I’ll go to a gallery or something, but stop telling me to touch grass. These works of art are on or at least near grass!