By Jordan Yeager
There’s something about the ephemerality of a space that strikes a certain nostalgia within its visitors. Underground venues, in particular, embody this sentiment – they exist in a very specific meaning of the word, transient and shifting, living on only in the collective conscious. When digital artist Nicolas Sassoon moved to Vancouver from France 10 years ago, he found himself immersed in the electronic music scene, attending after-hours events that often were held in such venues, operating illegally “or on the fringe of legality” in converted lofts and art studios.
For years, Sassoon designed and projected animations for shows held at venues like Index, Avenue and Skylight. Now that most of these venues have shut down, what better time to reflect on some of the places he felt most at home?
“This project started out of the intention to look back at my experiences, and one thing that came to mind is that these spaces are really not documented,” says Sassoon. “There’s a lot at stake, and people don’t want the space to be very advertised. So there’s no documentation. When one of these spaces disappears and shuts down, there’s no trace of it – the only trace is through collective memories and word of mouth. It fed into the project in the sense that I wanted to make a depiction of this space, but I wanted to make a very skewed, personal, subjective depiction. So I started drawing the entire space from memory. Eventually my memory failed and I started inventing things. That’s how these animations came to be – they’re a work of memory, but the process reflects on the nature of the spaces and how they exist after they’re gone, which usually is this sort of legend that people get an idea of through second, third, fourth and fifth accounts.”
Index, Avenue and Skylight are just a few of the pieces that will be on display at a fundraiser held for New Forms Festival this weekend. New Forms is a non-profit organization that supports digital and experimental artists, encouraging them to push boundaries both self- and socially-imposed.
“For the exhibition this weekend, we’re using two big projectors to show the animations on the wall almost at a life-sized scale,” says Sassoon. “Things will be scaled up, and to me that’s really exciting because it’s the original way that I wanted to show the works. And it also happens in a space that is kind of like an after-hours venue – it’s interesting because they can relate to the topics.”
New Forms Presents: Nicolas Sassoon + False Witness takes place Saturday, December 15 at Remington Gallery and Studio at 8 p.m. All proceeds go towards supporting local artists at 2019’s New Forms Festival.