If you’re planning a visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery, keep your eyes and ears peeled while walking up to the building.

Its newest exhibit, How Soon Is Now: Contemporary Art From Here —which opens on Saturday and features 34 British Columbia artists — begins before visitors even walk through the doors.

Artist Abbas Akhavan has installed speakers in the trees to play bird songs, Aaron Carpenter’s flag will fly from the gallery’s flagpole, and Kristi Malakoff has made a massive star in the lobby from tape used to block scenes for stage actors.

Inside, artwork is on ceilings and floors, in alcoves and windows, and behind walls.

“It invites a sense of the unexpected and having different kinds of encounters with the works of art,” assistant curator Kathleen Ritter said.

The pieces are connected through motifs relevant to contemporary British Columbian society, including environment, space and social interaction, architecture, racism and First Nation stereotypes, and forestry.

“(We visited) more than 120 artists’ studios to find the freshest and most contemporary art being produced in B.C. today,” director of the gallery Kathleen Bartels said. “Their works present a range of critical, transformative, social, sensory and political experiences that are uniquely B.C. and very today.”

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