JANUARY 11 – FEBRUARY 8, 2013
RECEPTION: FRIDAY, JANUARY 11, 2013 AT 8 PM
ARTIST TALK: SATURDAY, JANUARY 12, 2013 AT 2 PM
LOCATION – STRIDE GALLERY
1004, MACLEOD TRAIL S.E, CALGARY, ALBERTA
ESTATE SALE explores the real and fictional histories of the house located behind Paul’s studio. Until recently the house was home to many tenants living in three different suites. People were seen coming and going often and police visits and raids were common occurrences. The home has now been condemned, leaving a void where there was once constant activity. Through painting and sculpture Paul recreates the structure of the house and imagines possible narratives about the people who lived there and the relationships that develop and disintegrate within such a space.
CASSANDRA PAUL is an artist based in Calgary. She is the administrative director at AVALANCHE! Institute of Contemporary Art and administrator at the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation. Paul’s work has been shown locally and nationally, most recently in the Calgary Biennial: Hearts of the New West.
CASSANDRA PAUL’S ESTATE SALE
Early in the summer of 2012 Calgary based artist Cassandra Paul moved into a new studio space in a very old inner city building. With the exception of her shared art studio space the building had been boarded up, vacated and condemned. The floor above her was once bustling, with some sixteen apartments and two shared bathrooms. The space now contains only remnants, abandoned possessions from previous tenants including a backpack, clothing, women’s razors, pornographic images on a wall. This chaos simply left. According to the building’s caretaker some of the tenants relocated to the house right behind Paul’s studio, an old two-story bungalow, leaving her to wonder where did the rest of these people go and why didn’t they take their possessions with them?
All summer as Paul came and went from her studio she could not help but be intrigued by the activities in and around the house and she found herself naturally drawn to understanding unknown experiences apparently so different from her own. Her interactions with the tenants often seemed normal and yet sometimes they did not, with clues of transience, addiction and criminality with police presence. Now the house too is boarded up, condemned and vacated, and the tenants have been dislodged and forced to move on. It sits empty and awaits demolition, but as a marker for small but nonetheless significant human activity it has become a source for Paul’s work. As a stage of sorts for normal and foreign activities, the house captured her interest and imagination and left her creating stories and histories in the form of an installation, called Estate Sale.
With Estate Sale Paul intends to share her experience of curiosity. Its viewers will bring their own individualized histories and perspectives arising from different racial, cultural, religious or socioeconomic backgrounds; each viewer will have their own familiar idea of home as a site of comfort and nest. But Estate Sale challenges the familiar idea by asking questions like what is a home, really, and what does it mean when considered in an unfamiliar setting. Is it a place of security and warmth like a nest, a burrow, or a blanket? Is it a building? Does it have to be permanent or can it be transient? Is a home more about what it contains, including the lives of those who live within it? Is home ownership a privilege or a right? Our answers to these questions and others can provide us with insights into how we personally consider the idea of home and represent it publicly and politically.
In the gallery, Paul identifies the house as number 1234 and recreates it as a sculptural miniature. The house is personalized with details like siding, brass mailboxes and a damaged house number, and dirtied windows that make seeing inside impossible. To satisfy the natural curiosity about what might be inside, Paul depicts the internal spaces with paintings representing her own narrative for happenings within the walls. The paintings might be considered a visual monologue to express Paul’s imaginings and they represent a departure from her previous work. In the past Paul’s work was focused on impersonal objects with attention paid to structures, beams, and incidental debris. In Estate Sale, her paintings move us away from fixating on physical exteriors and human remnants, as encouraged by the miniature house, by drawing us into their world of narrative construction and story telling. Through the paintings’ muddied colors and blurred, no-longer-crisp lines, personal experience and interpretation can override monolithic assertion and any false promise of immutability suggested by the house.
Cassandra Paul’s painted tale of house 1234 encourages interpretation and inevitably grows and blossoms with additional perspectives from viewers. Open-minded respect for difference is Estate Sale’s final result as it brings about new considerations of home and the importance of transient but real lives.
VIVIANE MEHR completed a Masters degree in Social Work at the University of Toronto in 1991. In the spring of 2010 she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with distinction at Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD). She creates her art in Calgary as a member of the Art4Five Artist Collective.