Zandi Dandizette: Beyond the 2D Wall

Photo by Eric Shinn

Polyphonics is an art show curated by Portland transplant Zandi Dandizette, a new addition to the gallery residence formerly known as Gropp’s. Switching landlords and curators this year, the James Black Gallery remains a Victorian funhouse whose rotating deck of in-house artists continues to rival the building itself in quirkiness. An articulate Emily Carr graduate, Dandizette explored textural harmonies through multimedia imagery with an interactive focus between the viewers and the pieces in Polyphonics that took place this past weekend.

Vancouver Weekly had the opportunity to talk with Dandizette about her inspiration for Polyphonics, edible submissions, and the longevity heritage cultural spaces like the JBG have when they represent a dying breed in Vancouver.

Vancouver Weekly: You graduated from Emily Carr this year. How did the study of animation lead you to the path you are now?

Zandi Dandizette: I’m into interdisciplinary art. I feel things you can’t interact with don’t impact you as much. When it comes to art, I feel 2D images are lacking, and even if things are moving you still can’t interact with it. Animation helped lead me down that path. You can go on the internet and see as many beautiful images you want, but if you’re going to go to a show or an event, you should be able to interact with it in a different way than it would be on a screen. 

VW: Less than a year from graduating, you’re curating your first show. Tell me about how you got the opportunity and the process to get it going. 

Dandizette: Oh man! I haven’t curated before, although I did a co-curation at Vivo last week. That was interesting working with multiple people on a show but this is my first show alone. What brought me here is I moved into this location, which is the James Black Gallery. It used to be a collective but is undergoing a transition. We lost our curator about two months ago. I felt it was my duty to arts and cultures to have this space used towards this. I’ve done fundraising in the past through student programs but I’ve never put together an art show. When it comes to doing it, I wanted to take charge and see what I could create.

VW: For anyone that knows you or has seen you, Polyphonics, the title of your show, hits dead centre at the person people associate you with. What were you hoping to explore with this theme?

Dandizette: Originally, I was going to name the show Roy G. Biv and have different colour-themed walls but I felt forcing people into colour categories was too much and I wasn’t sure how to designate each wall. There were too many ideas going on in my head, and it’s mostly fourth-year students or people just out of school participating in the show. For them to be forced into a category of colour after doing a colour theory class or a design class would’ve been boring. By giving them the option of going down any path, whether it’s analogous or monochromatic, that gives them incentive in exploring it.

When it comes to Polyphonics, I wanted to have something that was both close to home and my identity, as well as something fun for people to explore. We’ve had fantastic ideas. I was blown away by some of the submissions.

VW: Polyphonics is also a musical term. What’s the musical component like for the show?

Dandizette: There’s an interactive piece where you can record a gif of yourself and see it on-screen and what happens is the gifs time up to the beats per minute of the music playing. That will be the piece playing for most of the show. I have an installation piece downstairs and that will be playing. Later in the evening we’re supposed to have an impromptu piece done by this dark wave band ericzeroes. They’re East Van punks.

VW: This show is held at JBG, which is one of the few heritage cultural spaces that are open for artists. It’s a rare space in Vancouver with real estate prices driving the value of the land up. Do you think it’ll still be here in a couple of years?

Dandizette: That’s an unfortunate thing that’s happening right now, and also what drove me into doing the curation. Our new landlord owner is looking to make condos in two years’ time so there is a time limit to this space existing. It’s a house from 1881. It’s got a lot of history. It’s unlikely to be kept, so it’s important to me to make sure artists have access to this space while we have access to it.

VW: Let’s talk about the artists [in Polyphonics] that aren’t associated with Emily Carr.

Dandizette: I put out a call of submissions and let mostly anyone apply. Kiril [Michael Kanartcheff]’s a coder programmer I’ve known for a bit. Marchien [Veen], I’m very excited by her pieces. What I really like is, for example, Kira [Mardikes] might be doing an edible sculpture so, by the end of the night, it has to be eaten or experienced in some way where it disappears.

What I’m interested in is the ability for people to experience art other than a 2D venue, and then also making 2D feel more strongly than just bare gallery walls. Interplaying projection, media pieces, and putting them in connection with each other. The flow of the space- that’s been interesting with this, figuring out what pieces go together even though they might be of an entirely different medium.

VW: What are your upcoming projects?

Dandizette: I’m finishing up my film and submitting it to film festivals. I’m going to apply to Seven on Seven, a conference with programmers, developers, and artists. Probably next fall, I’ll be working on a colour theory webisode series and launching

VW: (Laughs) Your website!

Dandizette: I’ll be launching that which will be showing the different things I’m working on which is curation, films, and art pieces. 

VW: Do you think you would do another shows if it goes well?

Dandizette: Yeah, and I expect it to go well. There’s been an incredible positive response from people, even people I don’t know, like my Vivo show last week, were coming up and saying “hey you are the one putting on Polyphonics.”