The Future Is Coming Every Day is a solo exhibition of recent collage and found images by Vancouver artist Elizabeth Zvonar. In this body of work, Zvonar explores core ideas of feminism, metaphysics, and time, influenced by her reading of the latest translation of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. First published in 1949, this seminal Western feminist text critiques the then dominant cultural framing of female as object and male as subject, a flawed binary distinction of gender and sex that maintains a troubling presence in contemporary culture.
Using the medium of collage—the assemblage of distinct, individual elements into a new whole—Zvonar creates her own visual language. She deconstructs and remixes images from popular culture, carefully chosen from the pages of books and magazines, to create new compositions that open up multiple alternative narratives.
Her references in this exhibition are wide ranging, from the pages of the fashion magazines Elle and Vogue, to Russian mystic philosopher P. D. Ouspensky’s speculations on time, to art world figures like Hairy Who, a group of six artists who graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1960s. Most of the artworks were compiled from only a few sources—an exercise in restraint and careful composition. In other instances, the artist appropriates a single image, such as Eric Lewis’s New Yorker cartoon from November 13, 2000, which she has slyly retitled to underscore the exhibition’s thesis.
As the artist thinks through the philosophy of metaphysics—the being of things and the study of abstract concepts such as time, space, and matter—everyday images take on new meaning through her manipulation. By layering fragments of images, the artist fuses different eras, contexts, histories, and metaphors. Zvonar employs humour, irony, and cutting social critique to question and upend the status quo. Social and cultural expectations and biases, illuminated in the pages of fashion magazines, art history books, advertising, and other media, are overturned and reconfigured to draw attention to the shortcomings of contemporary culture. In doing so, she highlights how published history is only one piece of a complex web of experiences, stories, and understanding.
Acclaimed for her sculpture, photography, and collage, Zvonar, a member of Port Moody Senior Secondary’s class of 1990, has exhibited extensively across Canada and internationally. Zvonar obtained her BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2001. She has received such awards as the City of Vancouver Mayor’s Award for Emerging Visual Artist (2009), the Emily Award (2011), and the Shadbolt Foundation’s VIVA Award (2015). From 2012 to 2015, Zvonar held the post of City of Vancouver Artist in Residence. She was recently inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts and shortlisted for the 2016 AIMIA, the photography prize of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. She is represented by Daniel Faria Gallery in Toronto and lives in Vancouver.
All Images: Installation view of Elizabeth Zvonar: The Future is Coming Every Day, exhibition at the Art Gallery at Evergreen, 2017, Photo: Rachel Topham Photography.