Pressed for Time
June 9 – July 21, 2018
In her most recent body of work artist jasna guy, with the help of entomologist Lincoln Best, explores our relationship with bees, the floral resources that pollinators require, and the complexity of our shared environment.
Guy presents a large-scale installation of black and white photographic images of closely observed native flora printed on paper and dipped in melted beeswax. These photographs, which cover the gallery’s walls from floor to ceiling, along with herbarium samples of local plants, and 200 exquisitely mounted entomological specimens, are products of guy’s intense inquiry and research-based practice. Guy’s work balances traditional museum practices with a moral consideration for native flora and fauna.
PRESSED FOR TIME
In this exhibition of 2-dimensional photographic images, dried herbarium samplings andexquisitely mounted entomological specimens, artist jasna guy and entomologist, Lincoln Best, explore some of the flora and fauna of our province, specifically highlighting the myriad species of native bees that can be found foraging within our local gardens and landscapes. Best’s bees and guy’s images are informed by their shared passion for pollinators and the plants that visit them, showing aspects of our flowers and bees that, perhaps, go unnoticed by casual observation.
In this era of diminishing habitat and media focus on species-at-risk, most of us are familiar with at least one species of bee, the honeybee, but not many people are aware that there are over 20,000 different species of bees on this planet. Over 500 of them call British Columbia home. Best has assembled a sampling, 100 or so of those species here. They are placed within small meadows of dried flowers—a minute sampling of the plants the bees visit for nectar and pollen; plants that offer places to rest and groom, and plants that, in some cases, even offer nest-building resources from their petals or leaves. In the spaces below these plants, some species of ground-nesting bees, often even make their homes.
The title of this exhibition, Pressed for Time, alludes to the relatively short life span of native bees, some of which forage, reproduce and die within a brief six-week period during the summer months. Flowers too, with their diverse and often extremely short bloom periods, race to grow, produce flowers, attract pollinators and set seed before the warm season quickly disappears. It is perhaps easy to say that the summer is abuzz with bees and other insects flitting back and forth, busily searching for the pollen and nectar that both sustains them and provides food for their young, but anyone who has been in a flourishing garden on a warm summer’s day, will attest to this image of idyllic buzz.
Pressed for Time also references the idea of collections as repositories of knowledge, with their contingent understanding of nature as a collectible entity. In the historical, private Cabinets of Curiosities, wealthy collectors amassed multiple and often incompatible objects. These small spaces were considered the containers of the known world. They were domains of privilege, embodying the self-conscious connection between possession, display and power – places of ownership.
With this exhibition, guy and Best walk a delicate balance between the traditional view that nature is a resource to be extracted and removed, and a moral consideration, the desire to foster, enhance and cultivate through engagement with nature and with art. They offer the products of their intense inquiry for us to consider. Be they the botanical dried and pressed plants that generally reside in university herbaria, the entomological, pinned, mounted, insects of museum collections, or the photographic images of closely observed flora, these objects mediate our understanding of nature, both in a positive manner, through a gained awareness of the natural world, but also negatively, by simplifying the complexity that exists in nature; by creating an artificial and subjective perspective, and underscoring ownership of nature over stewardship. Implicit in their intentions however, is the hope that greater knowledge brings with it greater respect and care.
With the full understanding of the limits of such constructed environments, guy and Best ask the viewer to engage with the beauty inherent in nature so collected and imaged, and to wonder at her ingenuity and diversity. They ask us to consider not only our own human space, but the spaces of the legions of other species that share this planet with us, even those so close to home as our backyards.