British Columbia

'It's huge and intimidating:' Façade Festival 2017 set to transform Vancouver Art Gallery

Dance, projection theatre, music and high-tech combine in a 5,000-square-foot artistic spectacle on Georgia Street when the sun goes down.

Ten artists are featured in the festival which is free and open to the public

In Orange Magpies, two dancers appear in various locations across the Lower Mainland in what artist Evann Siebens calls a kind of 'love letter to Vancouver.' (Evann Siebens)

This week you can see new work at the Vancouver Art Gallery without stepping a foot inside.

The building's Georgia Street exterior will come to life with a free art installation that will run until midnight every night until Saturday. 

The third annual Façade Festival features ten internationally recognized British Columbian artists, including Indigenous artist Shawn Hunt and digital artist Evann Siebens.

"It's huge and intimidating," Siebens told Gloria Macarenko, guest host of On the Coast.

"[The art gallery] is this very neoclassical architecture that kind of has these Vitruvian principles and sort of has this colonial history."

Hunt, whose work will be showcased alongside Siebens, is a Heiltsuk artist who works with wood carvings and recently partnered with Microsoft to create a high-tech Indigenous Raven mask.

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Siebens' piece, Orange Magpies, showcases her roots as a ballet dancer with the National Ballet of Canada and her love for film and media arts. It features choreography and performance by dancers James Gnam and Vanessa Goodman.

Siebens said as a non-Indigenous artist she tried to use the mediums of dance and film to explore issues of colonialism and her role in reconciliation. Her six-minute piece incorporates the work of two dancers featured in locations across the Lower Mainland.

"We're acknowledging that a lot of these sites are unceded and they're the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people, the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam Nations," she said.

The festival is free to take in and runs from Sept. 4-10 on the Georgia Street side of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Each night will feature two of the ten artists whose work will cycle on the screen from 7:30 p.m. to midnight. All ten works play in an encore presentation on Saturday night.

"It's sort of a love letter to Vancouver because I knew it would be a very Vancouver-specific showing," said Siebens.