Tasting Notes was a solo exhibition of work by Sol Hashemi that brought together a selection of photographs and objects used, modified, and reconfigured by the artist in his ongoing experimentation with brewing.
Employing strategies of product photography, in Hashemi’s photographs recognizable items—a bus tray containing an assortment of rocks, crystals, minerals, and brightly lidded plastic containers; a collection of four leaf clovers picked and pressed between the lined pages of an exercise book; halved apples on a cutting board with cores eaten by codling moth larvae; harvested rhubarb on a patterned cloth used to clean stainless steel; leaves and fruit peel in a blue bin; and a selenite window placed on top of ground malt in a mash tun—are elevated through sharp focus, wide-gamut colour, and even lighting. Flattened through a bird’s eye view, the photographs appear like desktop images, an interface between habitats, ideas, ideologies, references, and cultural niches, which like the foraged items represented, often require processing.
Accompanying these photographs, Hashemi’s installation of objects used and created in various stages of the brewing process invited audiences into an extended and real time sensory encounter. A fountain slowly dissolved selenite, fermenting sugar wash gently fizzed in a fifty-five gallon drum, a fridge hummed as it kept custom brews cold, and a mass of polka dot agate with a beer can inserted into it playfully held the flow of material transformations in maximum tension. Within this scene, Hashemi entangled the audience in these processes, with the viewer becoming part of the image and playing an active role in how the artwork functioned. A selection of ales and cider brewed by Hashemi were made available to sample while visiting the exhibition.
Hashemi’s interest in brewing and foraging also echoed past uses of the site, including the gallery’s function as a speakeasy called The Lure of the Sea in the early years of Western Front; Mount Pleasant as the historic home of brewing and the working class culture surrounding it in Vancouver; and the stretch of waterway, Brewery Creek, filled beneath the building’s foundations that once nurtured a dense rainforest rich in medicinal plants that provided the conditions for these transformations across time.
During the exhibition, Hashemi also took part in Western Front’s artist-in-residence program, occupying front and back of house spaces—such as the garden, kitchen, woodshop, and basement—to develop new works in progress, including rotating flower displays and new brews. While at Western Front, Hashemi invited local brewers to an open house in the gallery to share his practice, exchange techniques, and gain new industry insights. He also hosted Hops and Herbs—a workshop for sixteen participants that focused on sampling organic ingredients used in the brewing process, and visualizing sensory experiences through drawing.
A text by Amelia Groom was commissioned to accompany the exhibition.
Curated by Susan Gibb.