Vikky Alexander, Between Dreaming and Living #8 (1985). Image courtesy of the artist.

Vikky Alexander
Between Dreaming and Living
Hosted by Skar Image Lab
11 February - 4 March 2023
Opening celebration Friday 10 February 5:00 - 7:00pm
Open Saturdays 11am – 2pm & by appointment

PHOTO OP. is pleased to present Canadian Pictures Generation artist Vikky Alexander’s seminal 1985 exhibition Between Dreaming and Living for the first time in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The exhibition also features a new limited-edition print exclusive to PHOTO OP. Editions.

A new PHOTO OP. publication accompanies the exhibition with texts by Ellen van Neerven and Emil McAvoy.

In the 1980s, I grew up on a diet of mass-media imagery from movies, television and magazines. This captivating image world shaped my understanding of the complexities and contradictions of adulthood. For me, Vikky Alexander’s 1985 photographic series 'Between Dreaming and Living' recalls that time, when images seemed more intense, more real, than lived experience. Perhaps this condition is even more pronounced today, when our lives have become inseparable from images, and are mediated by ever-new forms of photographic representation and consumption.

A Canadian, Alexander was a key figure in appropriation art, alongside Pictures Generation figures such as Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine and Richard Prince. Extending surrealist strategies into the context of late capitalism, Alexander combined advertising and editorial images rephotographed from magazines. Each work in 'Between Dreaming and Living' was produced by sandwiching two 35mm slides to print a new composite. Faces, bodies and landscapes are superimposed, suggesting emotional and symbolic associations, speaking to processes of memory, dream and fantasy.

Alexander’s composites act as a kind of Trojan Horse. They have an immediate seductive appeal, but the treatments—the way she reframes images, overlays them, and adds tints of vivid colour—are ambiguous and even unsettling. Suggesting that all is not as it appears, she draws attention to the power of mass-media representations in shaping fear and desire, personal and collective psychology. Her works suggest travel to exotic faraway places, but also through inner landscapes—between dreaming and living.

— Emil McAvoy

Vikky Alexander, Between Dreaming and Living #5 (1985). Image courtesy of the artist.

Vikky Alexander, Between Dreaming and Living #4 (1985). Image courtesy of the artist.

Vikky Alexander (b. 1959, Victoria, BC) is a Montreal-based artist celebrated for her ongoing contributions to Pictures Generation strategies of critique by appropriation. Engendering a quietly reflective feminism that investigates the power of framing devices within the architectures of corporate branding, her works assess the fetishistic, bureaucratized and aspirational—generating recombinatory mixtures of appropriated scenes of natural landscapes and typifications of beauty that demarcate the romanticization of nature and the naturalization of romance. Activating a jarring fracture between embodied experience and its idealized presentation, her sensual and stylized works spanning installation, sculpture, photography, and video cumulatively denature the commercial annexation of personal capacities for self-reflection.

Vikky Alexander’s work has been exhibited internationally at venues including The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; Dia Art Foundation, New York; White Columns, New York; Musée d’ art moderne et contemporain, Genève; Downs & Ross, New York; New Museum, New York; Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle; Kunsthalle Bern, Bern; Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal; International Center of Photography, New York; Cooper Cole Gallery, Toronto; Canada House, London; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Barbican Art Gallery, London; and Yokohama Civic Art Gallery, Yokohama. Her works are included in the permanent collections of the International Center of Photography; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Musée d'art moderne et contemporain, Geneva; Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles; National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Deste Foundation, among numerous others. A graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, she lives and works in Montreal, Quebec. Upcoming presentations of her work include exhibitions at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Sprengel Museum, Hannover; Museum der Moderne, Salzburg; and Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana, Lugano.

PHOTO OP. acknowledges the generous support of Downs & Ross, New York, and Skar Image Lab, Auckland.
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