Currencies comprises 86 (the age of the Ceperly Mansion at the time of the exhibition in 1996) disks each, in groups of ten, representing the colours used in domestic setting in a particular decade. In these groups of ten they became a colour snapshot of an era. Each refers to a specific object, textile, paint colour that was used in the home during that specific period. The disks were placed on existing plate rails in the non exhibition areas of the gallery. The title addresses how colour is commodified and implicit in the commercialization of domestic space.
The significance of this work lies in its ability to generate and sustain a divergent and sometimes contradictory dialogue on modernist painting, decorative design, neoclassical architecture, historical periodicity, institutional hierarchies, taste and fashion. Where once abstraction spoke to the emergence of the universal subject, herein Van Halm’s work, abstraction is more accurately linked to the desires of a specific cultural moment. The rhetoric of truth and transcendence are rejected in favour of a discourse on the construction of the social and the everyday.
From Bruce Grenville’s catalogue essay for the exhibition weak thought held at the Vancouver Art Gallery, November 14, 1998 to January 31, 1999