House Advantage features new work by artists Fabiola Carranza, Yuriko Iga, Arvo Leo, and Peggy & Karen Ngan based on ideas of play, chance, and commerce in contemporary art practices, with a focus on the culture of gambling and games. Each of the artists have developed a work in response to leisure, economics and popular gambling games.

The exhibition is designed to actively reflect on gaming as a cultural phenomenon, encouraging our audience to consider and engage with both the value of art and how alternative forms of currency are being exchanged. The work in House Advantage initiates dialogue between social and artistic practices, triggering conversations of what produces a ‘healthy’ gambling environment and ways to potentially to mitigate gambling addiction.

The work in this exhibition challenges notions about the guise and function of social and entrepreneurial spaces, and brings into question the role of art objects. Fabiola Carranza in the act of presenting exchanged signage of local businesses from her place of origin, Atenas, Costa Rica, exposes the way in which the art world often fetishizes and commercializes informal economies. Yuriko Iga appropriates marketing techniques for the vending of hand-crafted counterfeits, which she further mystifies with the addition of the odd authentic object. Arvo Leo will be working across town in the Cultural Harmony Grove painting portraits with red wine and gambling with Hells Angels iconography, Dionysian mysteries, and modern Prohibition. Portraits will be for sale or exchange and in doing so chance procedures will leak into the ground, be absorbed by the roots of trees, waft back into the air as oxygen bubbles and create cultural harmony. Peggy & Karen Ngan bring elements of casino culture into the gallery, together with the commissioning of an actor. Their enterprise will allow for the incorporation of performance in a sculptural installation.

House Advantage focuses on ideas that undermine the economic livelihood of many artists and arts organizations. Since the 1980s, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation has generated profit from gambling activities for the provincial government. In 2011/12 over $1.1 billion dollars was earned from gaming revenue of which roughly 10% ($134.9 million) was administered as grants to over 5000 non-profit organizations in BC and $696.5 million was transferred to a consolidated revenue fund. For a non-profit organization such as 221A, the amount that it might (and has so far failed to) receive through the Community Gaming Grant would be roughly 0.001% of BC’s gaming revenues. One of the goals of this exhibition is to directly confront the spoils of gambling and consider ways that artists can sustain the production of art and deal with this paradoxical exploitation.

The conditions for the production and presentation of art as it relates to the market are often difficult and exclusionary, however what increases these effects is the commonly held perception that art is marginal to the market and therefore to the cultural well being of our society. By actively working within a micro-economy, through the direct transaction of ‘playing’ these games a palpable reality will emerge, where agents of power become exposed and questioned.

Please join us for the opening event at 221A on June 21, where artists Peggy & Karen Ngan have prepared a special performance for the evening. In addition to the exhibition a series of events will also be held involving a film screening, social gathering and public talk.