The Exception and the Rule: Karen Mirza and Brad Butler

Monday, November 23, 2009 - 7:30 pm

Programmed by Amy Kazymerchyk
Brad Butler in attendance

UK artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler’s artistic practice challenges and interrogates participation, collaboration, the social turn, and the traditional roles of the artist as producer and the audience as recipient. This investigation currently manifests in The Museum of Non Participation, a cross-cultural artistic intervention and appraisal of standard forms of representing and experiencing the everyday in Karachi and London. The project was conceived in 2007 when Mirza and Butler witnessed the Pakistani Lawyers movement protests and subsequent state violence from a window in The National Art Gallery in Islamabad. 

The Exception and the Rule is Mirza and Butler’s most recent film from this ongoing series. Conscious of their outside perceptions of the city and its geo-political weight, they investigate the everyday patterns of Karachi’s inhabitants and social architecture. In a city with almost no museums, the city itself becomes the museum. Non-participation becomes a form of resistance that critiques agency and consequence of participation/implication, action/inaction, and resistance/pacifism within the constraints of our global economic and political systems.

Their earlier work, Non Places, The Space Between, and The Autonomous Object? provide history and context to Mirza and Butler’s commitment to questioning the objectivity of the cinematic frame and its implications in anthropology, ethnography, and architecture.


Sunday November 22, 5-10pm
Outside the Museum of Non-Participation: Artist Talk and Dinner
Conversation with Brad Butler
$10 for a hot dinner, BYOB
RSVP to book your seat at the table through
Address given out upon RSVP

UK Filmmaker and Programmer of the media arts centre in London will present an artist talk on his curatorial, pedagogical and social filmmaking practices. At its core, Butler’s practice challenges and interrogates participation, collaboration, the social turn, and the traditional roles of the artist as producer, and the audience as recipient. Over dinner and wine, we hope to introduce Butler to the arts, media, writing and programming community in Vancouver and spark conversation about collaborating with UK and European artists, centres, and projects. 


Saturday November 21, 12-6pm
Experimental Ethnography
Facilitated by Brad Butler, Filmmaker, Social Practices Artist and Programmer of the Media Arts Centre in London UK.
Cineworks, 1131 Howe St. Back Lane Entrance
50$, register through

Anthropologist Anna Grimshaw said, "Films are not about what you see, but how you see". This cross-media practice based workshop refers to the history of filmmaking to explore the construction of anthropological truth. Drawing on the genre of Experimental Ethnography, participants will consider the ambiguous relationship between image, narration, sound, and text and explore ways of re-contextualizing or disrupting visual evidence through the creative use multiple audio and visual voices.

Please bring materials that reflect your practice, or a new practice you would like to experiment with: pen and paper, laptop, camera, video camera, film camera, audio recording. 


Brad Butler graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in Documentary Filmmaking. He also has a 1st class degree in Anthropology. In September 2000 he was the winner of BBC2’ Documentary talent 2000 competition, as well as winning the National Student Television Award in 1998. Since 1998 he has been creating a body of work in collaboration with Karen Mirza that has moved between the documentary form and artists film. This ongoing dialogue about practice has manifested itself in artistic work presented in exhibitions, events and the cinema as well as the creation of the unique space Brads most recent work is a return to issues raised in Anthropology having spent 10 years as an active participant in the ideas of experimental film. Brad’s new solo work In Search of Structure is the first of a new body of work that brings together his experience in both fields.

Co-Presented by Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society + VIVO Media Arts Centre