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Around the Island

Around the Island is a series initiated in 2018 by the AGGV to support projects in formation throughout the CRD, Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands. We had been in ongoing conversations with artists and colleagues about how to draw attention to and support the ground breaking community based work taking shape in the region. How can the work and ideas happening in smaller remote areas and/or by emerging artists have a broader audience and support from the community? With these intentions in mind we considered what the Gallery’s role could be in these projects. We realized that we were in a position to direct human and financial resources towards the incubating ideas to kickstart them to the next stage.

Alexis Hogan’s lichen
The first project that has taken shape through the resources provided by the Around the Island series is Alexis Hogan’s project lichen. Hogan (she/her) is a queer white settler with Indigenous heritage (Irish, Quebecois & Anishinaabe from Sharbot Lake, Ontario) and an emerging artist and curator. Her art practice is informed by intersectional feminist, decolonial perspectives. The focus of her practice, through site-specific projects, social practice and printmaking, is confronting settler-colonial extractivism through restoration, reciprocity, reflection and critical care. Her current bodies of work explore overarching themes which Alexis has titled, A Landscape of Colonial Inheritance, patterns of growth and i stihl haven’t found what i’m looking for, all of which attempt to confront the complexities inherent within environmental abuse and settler colonial occupation of unceded and occupied First Nations territories in what is known as British Columbia.

lichen has been conceived of by Alexis as “a mobile programming and project space not limited to foundations, nor the traditional construction of an art gallery or artist-run space.” Her intention for this roving structure is for it to be responsive to site, place-based and ecologically-centered art practices and community. lichen aims to be a decentralized arts creation, programming, and gathering space conceived as an adaptable multi-purpose entity, much like its namesake lichen. As Hogan describes, its potential lies in its responsiveness to transform: be that into an infoshop, library, free school, studio space, gallery, kitchen, critical reading group, skillshare venue, programming space, living space, incubator, laboratory, organizing space, DIY healthcare space, dark room, listening space, harm reduction space…but it is always, already a site for critical creative response.

lichen is designed simply in order to be responsive to many differing needs as a solar-powered, modular adaptable structure on wheels. Now in its final stages of construction, Hogan is preparing to launch lichen into the world. In imagining how the space will respond to our current needs and shared contexts, lichen, like its namesake, embraces the slowness, dormancy that the current surrounding environment encourages. Projects on the horizon may include songs from the cutblock, a fall 2021 collaboration with the NAG, collaborations with Open Space’s Indigenous Emerging Artists Program, and the end of the world free school.

Hogan would also name that the creation of lichen was only possible through the support of her advisory committee: Dr. Billie Allan, Chris Dufour, Dr. Rhonda Hackett, Estraven Lupino-Smith, Clare Pepper, Kim Smith, Craig Turney, and Megan Quigley, and through the labour of her build team, which was comprised of Craig Turney, Josh Ngenda and Jesse Campbell. She holds unfathomable gratitude for the aforementioned and for Nicole Stanbridge, and Michelle Jacques for their trust, facilitation and unwavering support of this project.