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In literary and editorial terms, an extract, also called an excerpt or block quote, is a quoted passage that is set off from the main body of text. As a scientific or culinary term it can also refer to a concentrate that contains an essential quality of a thing. I’ve chosen this idea as an organizing principle for this exhibition not only because the works themselves deal with language, words, and text, but because this show represents a group of works that have been set off from the larger body of work held in the rich, multilayered archives produced at the grunt gallery over its twenty-eight year history.

Kate Armstrong is a Vancouver-based artist, writer, and independent curator producing exhibitions, events and publications in contemporary media art in Vancouver, Canada and internationally. She is a founder of Revised Projects which is managing the Goethe Satellite, an initiative of the Goethe-Institut to produce projects in Vancouver. Recent curatorial projects include the electronic literature commission Tributaries and Text-Fed Streams (2008) for the Capilano Review, Group Show (2010) for the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and Electric Speed (2011-2012) for the Surrey Art Gallery and the New Forms Media Society. Armstrong is the author of Crisis & Repetition: Essays on Art and Culture (Michigan State University Press, 2002). Other books include Medium (2011), Source Material Everywhere (2011), and the 12 volume Path (2008).

Ranging in medium and approach, this diverse group of works has in common a concern with the act of writing and the position of the written word. Language is a porous, political layer as well as a visual, graphical form. Words are monumental, sculptural, performative, pop-cultural, revolutionary, hegemonic. For Edgar Heap of Birds and Nadia Myre for example, the word is explored as a mode of cultural or political control. For Jude Norris, Rebecca Belmore and Faubert & Audy, words manifest laborious processes of repetition and inscription and cause a consideration of identity and ritual. In the work of Kathryn Walter, David Ostrem and Rebecca Chaperon words connect to literary forms such as comic books and romance novels, inviting subversion and critique. For Lisa Fedorak and Nicole Dextras, words are singular, potentially transient, and recombinant, where for Jason Fitzpatrick the word is stripped to a line and permanently inscribed on the body. For the artists in Graffiti and Hip-Hop Spray Can Art the word becomes a gesture and a signature; for Hall & Dragu writing is an incantatory, quotidian practice and a form of personal exchange across a distance.

In these works we find words on paper and on skin, on the walls of the gallery and in the natural and the urban landscape, in complex assemblages, long strings and short bursts. It’s been the intention to bring these works together in order to look inside the vast accumulation of this archive in relation to the shifting, variable terrain between the written, lived and printed word, to where it meets the line.

-Kate Armstrong, 2012

Special thanks to Jennifer Campbell, curatorial intern.