‘Last Riot’ to make a splash at Richmond Art Gallery

An image from ‘Last Riot,’ a new exhibition at Richmond Art Gallery. -
An image from ‘Last Riot,’ a new exhibition at Richmond Art Gallery.
— image credit:

Last Riot

•A new exhibition by AES+F (Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovitch, Evgeny Svyatsky + Vladimir Fridkes)

•Opens Friday at Richmond Art Gallery (7700 Minoru Gate), runs until April 3

•Open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A computer generated video installation offering a critique of contemporary culture by depicting children engaged in violence will make its Canadian debut tomorrow in Richmond.

Last Riot is a montage of images of youth dressed in camouflage gear wielding baseball bats, golf clubs and swords—some graphic enough for advertising regulators to investigate in New Zealand.

Richmond Art Gallery is hosting the exhibition, created by a quartet of Russian artists, along with the Vancouver Biennale.

The work is said to expose the fantasy visualization of pop culture. Stylized acts of violence are set in a digital landscape forming a critique of contemporary culture.

The show includes a video installation projected on three walls in the gallery, two oversized photo stills and a “contextualizing display”—computers with information on the work’s references.

Those include the oft-painted scene “Descent From the Cross.” Keen observers will also spot references to video games—where some players have difficulty separating fantasy from reality—and Abraham sacrificing Isaac in Biblical times.

Gallery director Lynn Beavis said the still images are more shocking than the video.

“When you see the video, it’s not as violent as the photographs make it out to be. When you get a chance to look at the moving video, you see how stylized it is, and how referential it is to video gaming. So it’s patently unreal.”

The child actors pose without expression, and despite wielding weapons, make no physical contact.

“People don’t react strongly to the art historical images because they exist within a certain cannon,” said Beavis. “People tend to react very strongly to a photographic image, whereas they don’t to a painted image, because there’s that sense of reality that isn’t necessarily a truth.”

Acting on a complaint in 2008, New Zealand’s Advertising Standards Authority investigated billboard advertisements for the exhibition.

But the regulator dismissed the complaint, and attendance to the show exceeded the gallery’s expectations, according to a 2008 news release.

The artists are Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovitch, Evgeny Svyatsky and Vladimir Fridkes, collectively known since 1987 as AES+F.

The Vancouver Biennale is bringing Arzamasova and Evzovitch to Vancouver later this month, and Richmond Art Gallery is hoping to line up a local talk.

On Saturday, March 5, the gallery will host a discussion with Stuart Poyntz, assistant professor of media, technology and production at Simon Fraser University. The free talk is from 1 to 2 p.m.

AES+F Artist Statement

The virtual world generated by the real world of the 20th century is growing exponentially, like an organism in a Petri dish.

Crossing its own borders into new zones, it absorbs its founders and mutates into something absolutely new. In this new world real wars look like a game on

Prison torture appears more like the sadistic exercises of modern-day valkyries. Technologies and materials transform the artificial environment in to a fantasy landscape of a new epoch. This paradise is a mutated world where time is frozen and the past is neighbour to the future. Its inhabitants are devoid of gender, becoming more like angels.

This is a world where the severe, the vague or the erotic imagination appears natural in the artificial unsteadiness of 3D perspective. The heroes of the new epoch have only one identity, that of participants in the last riot. Each fights both self and the other, there’s no longer any difference between victim and aggressor, male and female. This world celebrates the end of ideology, history and ethics.

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