“My job as an artist is to figure out how things work, because I don’t always know.”
Vikky Alexander is a photographer, sculptor, collagist and installation artist.
She graduated from the Nova scotia College of art and Design in Halifax, Nova Scotia with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1979. There she studied with American artists Dan Graham and Vito Acconci. After graduation Alexander moved to New York, where she became enmeshed in the contemporary art scene, which included artists such as James Welling, Ellen Brooks, James Casebere, Barbra Krueger and Richard Prince.
Alexander has maintained a notably singular trajectory within the landscape of Vancouver photo-conceptualism. Since her earliest photo series in the mid-1980s that appropriated and re-contextualized images from glamour magazines, Alexander has exuded a self-reflexive approach to photography. Her photographs capture moments of refraction, reflection and artifice in urban and natural environments.
Alexander’s studies on reflected surfaces within the contemporary urban and suburban landscape can be seen in three iconic photo series produced in the 1980s and 90s. West Edmonton Mall Series (1988), Disneyland (1992) and Las Vegas (1994) are accomplished bodies of photographs that focus on built environments known particularly for their artificial and constructed nature.
In Island Series, 2011 Alexander set out to create photographs of the glass facades of London’s Kew Gardens. What began as a study into transparency and utopian architecture quickly became something else. As she explained in 2011:
In December 2010 I visited Kew Gardens in London, with a particular interest in the Palm House, which has been called the most important surviving Victorian iron and glass structure in the world. It was intended to house and exhibit plants of economic importance…through the process of photographing I realized that my focus was actually the plants and their reclamation of the architecture, which I saw as a metaphor for the relationship between Britain and the Colonies at the end of the 19th century.
Alexander has been a professor in the Visual Arts Department at the University of Victoria since 1992 and maintains a studio practice in Vancouver.