Ben McDonnell, Kirsty WhiteOUTSET VANCOUVER RESIDENCY, 2018

The Outset Vancouver Residency supported two curators, Ben McDonnell and Kirsty White for 3 weeks in December 2018. Outset connected the curators to Vancouver Biennale, and were further supported by British Council.

The Residency Programme aims to facilitate research and the development of creative practices to encourage the production of new work and a dialogue with the public.

Residencies are generally non-prescriptive and process-based. They encourage residents to use their time in Vancouver to benefit from the resources that the city offers, from public libraries and archives to other arts institutions.

It was Ben McDonnell’s intention to use the three-week residency to afford him the time to develop an ongoing exhibition series and continue research for his own arts practice. He is co-curating a series of exhibitions and events that use temporary spaces to allow artists to engage with artistic practice as a long-term, unresolved process. 

Ben was introduced to Barrie Mowatt, Natalia Lebedinskaia and the rest of the team at Vancouver Biennale, and was presented to their programme of public sculpture throughout the city via a cycling tour. Having regularly meetings with Natalia, the Director of Public Projects, Ben was asked to produce a short series of images and some text for their next catalogue. He also made a series of structures and images based on the architecture of the city as research for his practice.  

The artist run gallery model is extremely successful in Vancouver and the directors of spaces such as Centre A Gallery, Griffin Gallery, ArtSpeak and 221a amongst others were extremely generous with their time and showed Ben around the exhibitions and helping him understand the funding model and structure of artist run galleries in Vancouver. Directors and Curators of larger public run institutions, such as Sarah Joyce from the New Media Gallery were also very generous with their time.  

“Spending three weeks in a new environment was constantly stimulating, it afforded me the time to read and research which has been invaluable. I also made a lot of connections with artists and curators in Vancouver and look forward to producing text and images for the Vancouver Biennial.” 

Kirsty White’s research looks into the materiality and longevity of cultural heritage, especially in relation to public statues and monuments and performance practices since the 1960s.

In Vancouver, Kirsty spent time investigating public art in the city, including looking at the archival material relating to Lucy Lippard’s 1970 exhibition, 955,000, in the Vancouver Art Gallery archives. She also interviewed Natalia Lebedinskaia, Director of Public Projects at the Vancouver Biennale, artist and writer Douglas Coupland and Tarah Hogue; Vancouver Art Gallery’s first Senior Curatorial Fellow of Indigenous Art.

Her research influences an essay she is writing for an upcoming catalogue of the Vancouver Biennale, which will consider the notion of perpetuity from various cultural perspectives. It also informs an exhibition she is curating at Danielle Arnaud, London in October 2019 that looks at the ownership, preservation and destruction of cultural heritage.

Ben McDonnell lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include: Concealer, Peckham24, London; Granular, University of Greenwich, London; Outset Baker Street Residency PV, London (2016). RCA Degree Show, London; Look/17 festival, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool (2017). What Happens To Us, Wimbledon Space UAL, London; Salon/16, work selected from members of Photofusion, London (2018).

Kirsty White is a writer and curator based in London. She is interested in authenticity and artifice in relation to art, with particular focus on the materiality and longevity of artworks. She completed her MFA Curating with distinction at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2017 and is currently Curatorial Fellow at the Swiss Church in London.


Outset UK