Image Bank
Curated by Krist Gruijthuijsen, Maxine Kopsa and Scott Watson
Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver
18 June – 22 August 2021

Image Bank explores the artistic collaboration of Michael Morris and Vincent Trasov with others, including their most spectacular works – extended performances with props, such as Colour Bar Research (1970-78) and Mr. Peanut’s mayoralty campaign (1974) – alongside their extensive mail-art exchanges with other networkers such as Robert Filliou, Ant Farm and Ray Johnson’s New York Correspondence School. The Peanut campaign, in which Vincent Trasov as Mr. Peanut ran for mayor of Vancouver, mobilized the artists associated with the newly founded artist-run centre, the Western Front (est. 1973) and the exhibition includes many collaborations with and amongst these artists (Martin Bartlett, Hank Bull, Kate Craig, General Idea, Gary Lee-Nova, Glenn Lewis, Eric Metcalfe, John Mitchell and others). The exhibition pulls films, photographs, drawings, collages and other ephemera from the Belkin’s Morris/Trasov Archive to track the collaborative history of Image Bank. Founded in 1970 and lasting to 1978, Image Bank was a project initiated by Michael Morris, Vincent Trasov and Gary Lee-Nova that originated when they were all associated with the legendary Vancouver artist-run centre Intermedia. The exhibition reflects on a period of optimism where artists envisioned a non-hierarchical alternative to the world of art galleries and museums, where images and ideas could be freely exchanged through the international postal system thereby creating an open-ended and decentralized method of networking that presages social media.

The presentation of Image Bank at the Belkin was originally planned for the summer of 2020 to coincide with the Belkin’s 25th anniversary and Image Bank’s 50th anniversary. Postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now presented in 2021, the exhibition remains a moment to mark these two joyous milestones. 

Image Bank is curated by Krist Gruijthuijsen, Maxine Kopsa and Scott Watson, and was first presented at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (June 22-September 1, 2019) with support from the Canada Council for the Arts Abroad Program. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition, featuring critical texts by AA Bronson, Zanna Gilbert, Krist Gruijthuijsen, Angie Keefer, Maxine Kopsa, Hadrien Laroche, Gary Lee-Nova, Felicity Tayler and Scott Watson. Image Bank is generously supported by the Audain Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and our Belkin Curator’s Forum members.