A Melancholy Interview with Vanessa Kwan


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On February 2 at Club PuSh, sad sack, by night  dedicated an entire evening to the expression of West Coast melancholy. We caught up with the curator of the evening, Vanessa Kwan, to talk a little bit about the night:

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and this night at Club PuSh that you’re curating entitled sad sack, by night

Hi, I’m Vanessa. I’m an artist with a practice that includes some curatorial work– in the form of performances, exhibitions, and whatnot. I’ve been working on a series of projects loosely called Sad Sack, and they are all about melancholy in the city. It involves an exhibition, some drawings, a monologue about David Bowie, potentially some absinthe, and: THIS NIGHT AT CLUB PUSH!

Image: Vanessa Kwan

How did you go about picking the artists for this evening?

I work with a lot of performers through my day-job at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and a major perk is that I have gotten to work with amazing people like David Wisdom, and Dan Bejar and Sydney Vermont (who are Hello, Blue Roses). I knew that I wanted to work with them again, and (I hope they won’t mind me saying this) I could sense a certain melancholic sensibility in what they do– whether it’s creating and sharing slide shows (David) or singing sad sad beautiful songs (Hello, Blue Roses). I had seen Andrew Feldmar speak, and he is an incredibly fascinating mind– and he holds up the psychoanalytic end of things. How could you do melancholy without a nod, however sideways, to Freud? And Kris Elgstrand and I recently met, due to our similarly-themed and coincidentally-titled projects; he does the “Social Anxiety Hour” nights at the Waldorf (speaking of West Coast melancholy) and has a great project called Songs of the Sad Sack, so of course he needed to be involved.

How do you think “West Coast melancholy” compares with melancholy in other parts of the country?

I think it’s all about the rain. Say what you will about snow and sleet, but  being cold, damp and sallow for 4 and a half months of the year really screws with your head.

How do you beat the winter blues in rainy Vancouver?

I try and make things. I like people (until I don’t) so there’s conversation and commiseration. I go outdoors. I love to cook. And when things are REALLY dire, I turn to this.

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