MAIN SPACE EXHIBITION
MAY 8 – MAY 30, 1998
RECEPTION: FRIDAY, MAY 8, 1998 AT 8 PM
LOCATION – STRIDE GALLERY
722, 11 AVE S.W, CALGARY, ALBERTA
In the spring of 1997, CIRCA Centre d’Exposition Art Contemporain (Montréal) approached
Stride Gallery and TRUCK (Calgary) to participate in an exchange that would provide artists
from both regions an opportunity to exhibit their work, meet cultural producers and visit art
organizations outside their respective provinces.
For the first part of this exciting exchange with CIRCA Gallery in Montreal, the Stride Gallery and TRUCK Gallery are exhibiting work by nine professional contemporary artists from Montreal. Nicolas Baier, Michel Boulanger, Michel de Broin, Jean Dubois, Lucie Duval, Sylvie Fraser, Leon Perreault, Andrea Szilasi and Sarla Voyer examine two distinct but related topographies—that of the body and of landscape.
For the second part of the exchange, seven Calgary artists will travel to Montréal in October to present their work at CIRCA Gallery. The artists in this exhibiiton will inculde: Kenneth Doren, Amy Gogarty, Angela Inglist, Shauna Kennedy, Luanne Martineau, Roy Meuwissen-Hendrickx, and Steven Nunoda.
In 1997, NICOLAS BAIER participated in the exhibiiton De Fouge et de Passion at the Musée d’Art Contemporain. He has also had several exhibitions at Galerie Clarke. His work makes use of new technologies in order to confront his photographic and pictorial preoccupations.
In 1997, MICHEL BOULANGER participated in the exhibiiton De Fouge et de Passion at the Musée d’Art Contemporain. Last year he also presented a little treatise called The Art of the Cloud. He works regularly on projects for the Integration of Art in Architecture Program and has had numerous solo exhibitions most notably at the Galerie Christiane Chassay.
MICHEL DE BROIN had a solo exhibition last winter at the Centre d’exposition CIRCA. He also exhibited work in a group show at the same gallery later the same year. He continues to use material associations to produce tensions in the cultural structure of the gallery, their confrontation there by creating a resistance.
JEAN DUBOIS is a multidisciplinary artist. He has produced interventions and installations here and abroad. His works with communication as content have been presented as advertisement billboards and have infiltrated the postal system. His present research is in the area of interactive technologies which we were able to experiment with at Dare-Dare in 1997.
In 1997, LUCIE DUVAL integrated her work in an expressly museological wan the exhibition De Fouge et de Passion at the Musée d’Art Contemporain. She works with photography creating relationships made with words, writing and structures of communication. This research produced among others Instant Ratés which was shown at the Centre d’exposition CIRCA last year.
In 1995, SYLVIE FRASER presented the solo exhibition Taxidermie at the Centre d’exposition CIRCA. In the coming year, as well as her participation in the Montreal – Calgary exchange, she will exhibit her work solo at Galerie Occurence. She also has a project for L’ail de Poisson in Quebec city. She continues to create points of tension between nature and culture.
LEON PERREAULT has had numerous exhibitions, notbaly at the Galerie Port Maurice and at Galerie B-312. His preoccupations are about objects in space; they are often mechanised and are in the form of towers acting like those that haunted Don Quichotte.
ANDREA SZILASI has had numerous solo and group exhibitions, most recently her work was shown at Plein-Sud and at Vu. She works with photographs in an unorthadox way; weaving them together to emphasize their materiality.
In 1997, SARLA VOYER presented a solo exhibition at the Centre d’exposition CIRCA. She showed Objet de dérivation in 1996 at the Centre des Arts Contemporains du Québec. Her preoccupations are concerned with wandering and producing material forms about travelling and transportation.
KENNETH DOREN graduated from sculpture at the Alberta College of Art and Design (1994). His studies included a year at Kunsthochschule-Weissensee art college in Berlin, Germany (1993). Doren is a multi-media artist whose videos and films have been screened in Germany, Sweden, Finland, Canada and the United States. His musical compositions have been used in Canadian dance, theatre and video productions. Doren is currently working on a digital opera (Allegro Molto Con Brio King Kong) about the myth of Prometheus. Doren’s day job is Production Manager for Attitude Pictures, a documentary film company in Calgary, Alberta.
AMY GOGARTY is known nationally for her art criticism and she has exhibited her work widely throughout Alberta. Her practice blends academic research, painting, writing and teaching demonstrating her commitment to serious theoretical discourse. Gogarty has involved herself with the Calgary community through her contributions as an artist, artistic collaborator, curator, writer, moderator, panelist, community activist and instructor. Gogarty has received many academic awards as well as awards from the Calgary Region Arts Foundation, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts.
ANGELA INGLIS graduated with a Fine Arts Diploma from the Alberta College of Art (1994). Since then, her work has been included in several group and solo exhibitions in Alberta and eastern Canada. She is a member of the Untitled Artists Society, a Calgary non-for-profit artists’ collective that provides studio, publication and exhibition opportunities to artists. Inglis’ work is represented by Trepanier/Baer Gallery in Calgary.
SHAUNA KENNEDY graduated with distinction from sculpture at the Alberta College of Art (1994). Shauna has produced several videos working with EM/Media and the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers in Calgary. Her videos have been screened in Calgary and Mexico, broadcast locally on Shaw Cable and Rogers 10 Cable and broadcast nationally on Vision TV and Women’s Television Network. Shauna has received several awards for her video productions and distributes her videos with Video Pool.
LUANNE MARTINEAU was born in Saskatoon, graduated from the Alberta College of Art (1993) and completed her Masters of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia (1995). Her work has been exhibited in both group and solo shows across Canada. Most recently her work was exhibited at Mercer Union (Toronto, ON), Eye Level (Halifax, NS) and Struts Gallery (Sackville, NB) and purchased by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for their permanent collection.
ROY MEUWISSEN-HENDRICKX graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Alberta College of Art and Design (1997). His work has been included in several group shows in Calgary including The Painting Machine curated by Arlene Stamp for The New Gallery (1997) and Picture Windows curated by David Garneau for Artweek 1998.
STEVEN NUNODA is an artist and educator whose installations have been exhibited locally and nationally since 1986. He has also worked on several curatorial projects for local artist-run centres and artists’ collectives. His review of David Silcox’s book about David Milne was recently published in Books in Canada, the Canadian Review of Books. Nunoda currently teaches art and art theory courses, while working part-time as a sculpture studio technician at the University of Calgary.
NICHOLAS BAIER – LATEX TAB. SYN.2
It is in relation to the first gesture of the painter and to this privileged experience that Nicolas Baier formulate his work on the synthesis of images. Giving himself to pure receptivity and according to a certain ingenuousness, this experience is a matter of concern, of a strictness of expression –not of expressionism- counting not on the eloquence o forms of colours in themselves, but on the expressiveness of their organization and of their codification I the pictorial plan. In the form of immense mosaic surfaces, these paintings receive decision-making interventions like other eras would have made a work of stain or impasto significant and which here would be called a sampling. The work of Baier seems to want to expose what is called “to be of one’s time”. Producing worlds that are quasi photographic, quasi pictorial, he makes use of computers like a D.J. forms pre-existing sonorities in order to outline their assemblage. It is a matter of going from one sound, from resonance, but especially from one rhythm to another as one passes here from one visual area to another. These paintings which look rather like a synopsis, propose an overall, fragmentary vision. A plurality of computer interventions enters each of the formal square units of late Tab. Syn.2 which with the application of filters: (blurred, curved, colour saturated, fractals), confers an autonomy of each image in the overall look. These processes of transformation act most often on parts of the body, the sources being pictures, from anatomy books, from catalogues of consumable products or of photographs taken from the everyday life of the artist. In the case of the work presented here the images originate from a photograph of the foot bone. Covered with wire mesh from the inside edges of the white squares to the innumerable tonalities and textures, Latex Tab. Syn.2 eliminates all concern for symbolic production in order to limit its compositional resolution. One speaks here of a work of research and organization which integrates marked traces of structuring then tries to even them out, making them disappear and allowing for the experience of the surface which, according to the artist, “looks like nothing”. It is a matter of a broken up area that lets the eye explore freely and with pleasure while extracting variations from within a plan. From then on it would ideally also erase the grid supporting this fluidity. This signifies as well that “to be of one’s time” is to have acquired the means to have lived through it, to have experimented with it according to a current even though appearances, often abrupt, mislead and whether or not he returns to each concern of osmosis, abandoning himself in his universe. This is an intuition, the acquisition of a rhythm sensitive to the fluctuations of interest that, for example, the television creates, being capable of “zapping” without every missing the essential. This intuition can be expressed her in a pictorial quest which, with the zoom effects the computer gives the image, permits the assimilation of pseudoscientific research while searching the depth of the surface despite its necessary opaqueness.
MICHEL BOULANGER – À L’INSTANTE DE LA CHUTE (AT THE TIME OF THE FALL)
Eroded surfaces on after the other are superposed in cartography that attempts to become a landscape. Their constructions gives us the sense of a pierced and efflorescent grid, a lacunae geometry that requires the viewer to complete it, Michel Boulanger proposes a pictorial work which encompasses the drawing lessons from his little book: L’Art de le Nuée (The Art of the Cloud). These principles act as a kind of theoretical fable posing as an aesthetic methodology, a maieutics of creation that plays to legitimize formal choices according to certain factors both arbitrary and statistical, but also to enlighten the student to whom the narrator is addressing. They do not have the value of knowledge but are presented as truths. These principles support the procedures of certain research of the “Ouipenpo” (1), where by folding, making a grid, using various anthropometries, taking from a famous painting according to the manner of another painter, and by the constructions and by the deconstruction of the picture plane. This establishes a necessarily abstract project that assumes a figurative appearance. Following the example of the work of abstraction executed by the Baroque in the nature of the ornamental motif, Boulanger plays with the principles of the cloud producing material transmutations that create a kind of highly empirical, landscaped alchemy. He institutes, by a slow process of modulation, atmospheric perspectives that wear away the surface. The landscape is without depth and without horizon. However, one can say that because it is stratified, it possesses a certain thickness. It is by successive layers that the cloud, as the initial motif and as a form of process, makes tiers in the surface. Through it emerges at times architectural orders of an ambiguous status which between the ruin and the unfinished construction appear to the vigilant eye as a magnified domestic objects: the iron, the circular saw, the food processor. Showing through as well are amalgamations of petrified humans which are in the form of clouds cut from stone, bark or ashes presenting acts of wrestling. There is the struggle, of the bodies among themselves, but also of the material in the imprecision of its jumble. It is then in light of this development from the precise to the blurred that Boulanger’s pictorial reflections are established. He presents here a drawing: à l’Instant de la Chute whose formal structuring comes originally from a painting by Rubens. It is during this same development that a progressive overpopulation and a proliferation of figures is presented in the image which until the end imposes on the eye, an empirical reading of only detail. If it is a question of the pre-eminence of the line over the mark, it is because the line first traces what the mark then blurs through successive equalizing and restoring. Boulanger calls himself a draughtsman rather than a painter, he resorts then to a form of refinement of process by abandoning himself here. Another theoretician of the arts who did not joke with theory, Roger de Piles, is his “Painting Course by Principles: gave his opinion of these terms: “Drawing constitutes an essential element of the painting, colour is only an accident.”
(1) ouvroir de peinture potentielle – collectif de recherches picturales faites d’apres la Pataphysique d’Alfred Jarry (collective of pictorial research made according to the Pataphysics of Alfred Jarry)
MICHEL DE BROIN – PRÉLÈVEMENT OPÉRÉ DE LA GALERIE (SAMPLE TAKEN FROM THE BODY OF THE GALLERY) & INCORPORATION
It was an extract from the body of the gallery, as the deceptively superfluous title of the work indicated, a rectangular sample of anthropomorphic dimensions. Driven life the tension of a system, the irruptions and interruptions here, are produced according to restrained or unrestrained, free flowing or obstructed intensities. A tiny intervention signals the system’s activity, then interfering with the inflexibility of the process, it reactivates and produces a rupture that disrupts it. It is an operation where the expression of “resistance” must be seen, like the work fro which Michel de Broin had made himself known. His gestures simultaneously mark, remove, extract, and indicated. In the image of a hesitant language, from the withdrawal of the Heideggerian being, looking for the deepest epidermis of the body turns up, one at a time, a literality and a desire for depth. It is a matter of going farther than the material specificity the Minimalist sculptors attempted to show: by materials exempt of any relationship and homogenous visualities lacking mimetic or symbolic faculties. It is probably that for de Broin the distance and the formal aestheticism these sculptors wanted to initiate is imperative, like the way of desubjectivating the artistic process. It is important however, to let the viewer have the freedom to judge the event as an experience, a work resolutely open and to establish, on the contrary, a relationship. The gesture is minimal and not minimalist, it is sparing, it proceeds according to an economy of the drive and of the mechanics. Acting as a kind of threshold, this pictorial moment gives the gallery a wound without giving the illusion of a beyond. It is the cold “gestus” of the inquiry revealing, under an infinite number of layers, what stays: “the same”, always the surface. Signalling the trace of the deepest layers and the call of those to come, this archaeological work which will see itself restored and closed again later, extracts from the wall the pictures that is already there and at this same occasion is made to disappear. Both restrained and violent, the incision of the gallery epidermis frees it from literal pictoriality, it is a “performative” as one could say of the linguistic expression that it is. While its destinies are solicited, this gesture proceeds from a tension of its own production and from the temporality of the object that it has formed. The skin removed from the wall hangs, lodges or resides in the interval, in between the wall that holds the skin and the clinically constructed, hermetic frame that promises it its constrained and residual shroud form. Where there is an energetics, the exchange is the determining value of the process. Whether it is made as a loss or a plus-value, the meaning, while it circulates (the way that de Broin has of titling his works shows it well) requires confrontation and resistance. The context of the exchange exhibition (with Calgary) acts then as a supplementary tensor of the resistance and violence in current use her. From now on, the transformations that the “sample” promises us play between, always between, one energy and another.
JEAN DUBOIS – ZONES FRANCHES
Confident from his interventions in the area of the social and cultural body through the institution and the infiltration of the system using advertising billboards, mailings and the gallery as a site of occupation, Jean Dubois works with electronic means on Zones Franches, which are defined by the expanse of a human body. Here he sets out the dichotomy of the intimate and the collective in a display of media interaction. With a seductive proposal of contact with the other that should be thought of as a process of play, an environment is established that solicits our will to explore. This installation gives us the sign of a body and a voice referring to it, emanating from it. This virtual other to which the machine gives a bod image is the interface with which the intersubjective relationship should be established. The preposition “with” as the dictionary informs us “marks the relationship of a simultaneous physical presence”. It is then “with” this nude body, sensitive, erroneous and female that one must compose while a tactile movement receives the response of a murmur. Words indicate the body, they address themselves to it like they mark a map. They disappear with out intervention as one raises them to the surface and they release impressions of meaning and hypertextual relations. These words slip, shift, and oscillate among themselves; they unfold and withdraw according to a movement that summons with a slow sensuousness, the process playing in a subtle way. Suggestion is of a wounded body, engraved: one could think of Christ-like stigmata, of the crucified body, suspended (slightly veiled by four hands that one will try in vain to touch so that it is bared), of which the uncertain presence seems to manifest itself in a show of belief that incites the spectator’s voyeurism. The pixelized other acts only like an ultrasound of attempts made to contact it. For those who abandon themselves to deception and to seduction, the effect of casualty, of meaning and of interrelationship prepares the disappointment. Proposing to embellish the body, these words, like tattoos or jewellery, are paradoxically obliterated when one tries to approach them, It is through the contact with these written scars that we are given access to a kind of beyond that is forever being closed with a substitute word, the one that our curiosity has touched upon. Contrary to much of the interactive universe that proposes the illusion of depth and that opens a link of hypertext has an idea of progress, of an increase in meaning; this female body should be read as an epidermis plane, smooth, impenetrable and opaque. As operators of the relationship, we are forced to notice that she functions partially. While we believe we are composing “with” it, it appears that we have the use “of” this image of a being, “of” this partial subjectivity. In this scene of familiar desire, the intended object, (the body of the other), is invested with expectations. In this exercise of communication where action, reaction, word, and reference image (image of the other, of her body) are nevertheless present, a response to desire appears to be absent. The work of Dubois sensitively emphasizes the human need to maintain a relationship even if the content are elusive and the speaker is imaginary.
LUCIE DUVAL – LA COQUILLE
Assuring our always temporary and erratic relationship to words, Lucie Duval works to present the tensions in the relationship between language and image: the way words are written and images grasped or received, which quite simply are the result of “making” art. It is a matter of testing the adequacy of the photographic image and the written text. In a form that retains the contextual contribution of the gallery and museum as a latent discourse, it takes up their procedures in its presentation –the etiquette of looking, the distance kept, and the norms of framing- in order to play a game with language. This opposition in Femmes du Sud raises the question of the representation of women in art history: the Venus, the Mona Lisa, and the Victory, like three Graces in a retable, are confronted by the archetypes of power and force that cultural institutions represent, and that the manufacture products of popular culture convey, in this case the fashion of clothes (Nike probably comes from Nikeos which signifies victory). The text is occasionally broken down to one word, reduced to its ultimate denominator: the letter, unheeded, returned, a misprint resulting from neglect and doomed to aggravate for ever since its vacillating status can only be re-established by errata. The word controlled by the infamy of the typeset is isolated in its potential production of meaning. It is found in no dictionary, nothing exists to list it, it is unpublished. Instants ratés (a kind of photographic story shown recently at CIRCA), lets the word, in another way, inscribe itself on the film of the negative by cursory personal notes where the condition of creating in the margins is made, a story parallel to the proposed narrative, In counterpoint, the relief of Braille writing, originally perforated on the negative itself, closes in on itself and sees itself crushed by its photographic representation. It shows the intangible and the illegible while it stays visible to our eyes.
Lucie Duval proposes La Coquille for us here. There is in this photograph a persistent hesitation where the feet of a black man, seen from behind, are represented in disequilibrium. On one of his heels is an adhesive tape. An indication of frailty, but also a sociographic sign of want, this band-aid constitutes by its colour of white flesh-tone an additional marking of the wound. This trace is intensified by the (maintenir) word inscribed on the transparent surface covering the photograph which makes a projected shadow. It expresses itself as an irritation, tedious even, like the image of a typographic misprint. Like a social deficiency, this mark presents itself as a blank, a gap in the discourse of progress in our societies: only just recently have cosmetics existed for racial types other than westerners and whites. The commentary that permeates Duval’s intention is not presented as correct discourse in her representations, it emphasizes rather the omissions, errors and discursive wanderings of the times, and it proposes images of people who disturb and surprise our perception subjecting to criticism images that we think are self evident.
SYLVIE FRASER – CULTURES
Perhaps in accepting the fundamental inadequacy of people and their desires, lessons of adversity are drawn. From the beginning of time, nature has been taken up in cultural schemes, cultivated, covered and invested by the agriculture of settled peoples or travelled and crisscrossed by nomadic searchers. Their hunting carried out on nature, the catch, left the marks their survival required. Signs of the persistence of human will, these culture, mobile or rooted, wished to control nature. This dialectic of several millennium is a question that Sylvie Fraser reactualizes here in a reversed form. The famous painting to which the artist refers to make her motives function, Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Manet, acts as a motif in out cultural landscape. Cited and re-used many times, it embodies a citational moment in art. René Payant (1) is one critic who signalled the legacy of his painting, refused by the Salon, which repeats the central compositon of the Judgement of Paris by Raphaël. By an intriguing but subtle paradox, Fraser associates nature with it, under the effect of culture which is deluded and progresses in it. Her earlier works already acted to upset our relationship of control and conservation of nature. One must think of Taxidermie, where rather than filling a carcass with straw in order to hold and conserve the image of a body, it lets frothy vegetation, in the form of the animals, swarm on metallic structures. Here with Cultures, cereal grains, in their initial dry state, from a mosaic and are activated by a skilful system of lighting and irrigation. Activation of the material but also of the pictorial reference: Le déjeuner which personifies cultural modernism. On it prevails an irreversible vegetal progression that far from representing nature as incredibly romantic, shows it as waiting to grow, live, die out, and reproduce again. Fraser’s project passes through numerous points of tension, alternately pictorial, horticultural and photographic so as to constitute the meaning of the word Culture. A photographic document is the only evidence the viewer has of the nuances of colour and the dimensions of the cereals that form this mosaic of a pictorial subject and style. Reference to popular culture is expressed, moreover, with the particularly rigid touch that as a consequence divide the painting surface like a painting by numbers. The photographs, presented to us in sequence, show the kinetic principle of this natural growth and the disappearance of the painting. Emphasizing in detail the transformation in one day intervals, the thirty some photographs reproduce the mosaic of grains that disappear with their germination. The painting’s original representation is carried out in the form of a narrative, recording the proliferations of the flora as a kind of portrait of a landscape. In a confrontation where each time the forms are replaced, Sylvie Fraser sets out one that becomes the other, culture and nature, the famous and the popular. In paying attention to the possible considerations of artistic conservation, institutions always have difficulty integrating an art lacking durability.
(1) Bricolage Pictural in Vedute
LEON PERREAULT – SANS TITRE / UNTITLED
The rough zones in communication occupy in the work of Leon Perreault, the same irrevocable and persistent presence that they conspicuously pose in our North American landscape. Symbols of human enterprise in the environment, fragile all the same, the towers meagrely striate the map of a country too vast, and of horizons too distant. Parabolic antennas, pylons, and wind captors, they are the trace of a presence that is addressed only when the need to recover these expanses in their true dimensions arises. Ignoring the ellipses that interrelations of communication propose in our times; evading distances while not recognizing what separates us, the spatiality of the world is punctuated with these forms that remain from the ritual circulation of messages. A consequence of communication, these antennas add nothing to it other than their value and position as a marker, and for the relay and territorial marking that results. What must be said of the most remote of worlds disregards, from now on, the true impact of its expression, often unilateral and of a distance which remains despite the denial of distances. Perreault elaborates these considerations of critical and poetic postulates which duplicate these towers, and adds to them an often absurd functionality. Supporting kayaks, bearing megaphones and rubbery epidermis, in this case, the towers are holding strident and glowing red lights that flash alternately, according to an asymmetric rhythm that shifts each of the luminosities forward. These forms propose mechanics that without auto-destroying themselves like those of a Tinguely, seem to act with no regard for any productivity. The signal functions as a warmth, as a sign of humanity that in the distance calls another. Opposite the tower and back against the wall stretches a landscape of steep where an erosion produces the gradual demarcation of the ground and the sky and where the red lights reflect in a licking motion. This indecisive horizon of acid sfumato and distant trembling is what should extend the ground of the pylon. Opposite the corroded steel of the landscape and economizing the space in which a common perspective should be elaborated, the beacon is solidly set in its verticality and it radiates. Made expressly too high for the gallery space to establish an equitable relationship with the landscape that face it, this steel tower like a quasi subjective figure indicates isolation and solitude and at the same time a force from which one cannot escape. The image of a distance, quasi mythic, to which our access closes nu the measure of our advancement, this pylon claims to be a vestige of the industrial era and seems paradoxically to function only for itself. Perreault proposes wit his installations, images that at times disturb, often mix lyricism with critical judgement and speak of the margins of our post-industrial world.
ANDREA SZILASI – INVERTED FIGURE (FRONT AND BACK) / SUSPENDED FIGURE
In the organization of knowledge, the human body plays a leading role. It is capable of crating numerous uncertainties, and if it is disturbed by the encounter of a soul or a spirit it produces the most intense metaphysical, philosophical, theological and psychoanalytical investigations. It also generates the blackest and most troubled destinies: the body without a voice like that of Artaud. Rejected forms, pieces of body, a collection of limbs that are cut up or multiplied by ten: Beckett, Kantor, and Bacon have also given tensions and straying morphologies to the human body. One now speaks of cloning but Andrea Szilasi brings to our attention photographic bodies that instead of unfolding, capturing and losing the “I” in the other by romantic vocation, refer back to themselves in their cutting and reclosing. Bodies without subjectivity, they are used as skins and presented as areas of experimentation. From the surface is produced a speculative, organic logic of unusual connections, of interpenetrating, mixing, blending, and crossing where a third body, neither male nor female, is evoked in the interweaving of the tram. Made according to the premise and technique of weaving, the human skin is striated and hatched, its role now being the threads of the warp and the weft. In its texture we are given an enlarged geometric form of pixelized appearance, but attention to the materiality of the image shows the cutting marks on he photograph and the adhesive tape holding the photographic strips together. Words are also used, they seem to breath from the image, taking into account bodily porosity, emanating n long dishevelled threads. Anatomy representations come to mind: it is the stratified body (whose nerves have been removed) and stratified in which the text of a book in respiration could have let its words slip out according to an outline in embroidery. Inverted Figure (front and back) Suspended Figure shown here, however, refines these techniques elaborated by Szilasi. While in certain earlier works the weave covered the entire surface of the photograph, it has now been limited to the female body and its consequent shadow; a figure turned upside down, evanescent and straight. While in Woven Genitals II, the ambiguity of the bodies of the two sexes, male and female, were superposed and made into a filigree of an unfamiliar body, a corporal otherness, here it is a matter of the back and the front of the same body. In a unique gesture of embrace Szilasi’s photographs simultaneously show the duplicity of the body, its two sides: the back and the front, like a coat or like two pages of a book, one against the other. Palimpsest and filigree, the skin is though of as a fabric, like animal skin that was used as paper in earlier times and human skin in certain legends. The body does not become transparent in the process, it remains opaque and elusive. In this form, it is by definition an image of contemporary anxiety and it is presented as the aesthetic of an impossible totality.
SARLA VOYER – LES SOLITUDES
The scission that travel makes in the continuity of daily human experience certainly marks and determines destiny. A journey imposes the choice of being open to a sense of wandering, flight, migration or disappearance. Les Solitudes that Sarla Voyer presents here possess this urge, the appeal of elsewhere, they have a biographical meaning. But dominating it, are opposing images of far away and nearby, of a beyond often mysterious and of a human otherness like implicit images that require the constitution of a world of objects that are called art. Images for Sarla Voyer must stand out and mature by themselves at the risk of this stirring solitude that drives one at times to the actuality of an existence and its memories, its dreams and its elsewhere. It is with a distribution of rolled up and fastened sleeping bags (modelled on the one she has travelled with during the past ten years), that Voyer inscribes the space on the ground with an insular loneliness. These rolls are of an excessive, dull whiteness. The material (plaster in its raw state) gives them the unquestionable accuracy of the faithfully reproduced and represented object. It is displayed here as a multiple. The plaster adds an amazing density, far from making exclusively neutral individuations, undifferentiated enactments coming from the same mould, the weight that we feel about these bags allows us to assimilate an agility which they release even though they seemed to be sedentary. This impression of weight implies a beginning of presence therefor a subjectivity of the object. Paradoxically the nature of a washed out image seeps into its linear conglomeration of forms whose recollection of our memory relinquishes, whose presence is produced as a disappearance, the beginning of an absence. These bags are the material image of places that appear as the probable site of subjectivity cut off from others, that would have migrated and would have stopped at a point in its journey. The temporality inherent in this display is given rather like the indication of a sedentary fold, of time stopped like a sign of travelling. The viewers are asked to wander within the installation while their itinerary produces a second journey that gives access to a kind of evidence at several sites. The effects of these forms evoke a humanity expressed through the elementary object of the nomadism: the sleeping bag which shows not the slightest trace of a body.
SEEING CRUSADING – KENNETH DOREN
In Kenneth Doren’s new installation Crusading, the viewer is confronted by a 4’ x 4’ newspaper image encased in glass and suspended from the ceiling. The news caption below the close-up image of an old man reads, “Dr. Luigi Bella, the controversial Italian doctor who claims he has the miracle cure for cancer, defended his treatment in Toronto on Monday.” The exceptional thing about the photo is that wires encased in surgical tubing penetrate the doctor’s eyes, ears and mouth before they wind out to their connection with an amplifier, speakers and an old television set also suspended in space in front of the doctor’s image.
The tape that plays on the video screen are the quiet and deliberately paced takes of an eight-year-old girl haltingly singing from a sheet of quotes made by Dr. Luigi Di Bella in a crusade for his unorthodox treatments for cancer. As her small voice sings out the doctor’s defence of his alternative position, the viewer is engaged by the strangeness of this quiet techno-theatre that is not unlike the wire strewn operating theatres of contemporary hospital settings.
Dr. Di Bella’s story signifies the shift we may be seeing now in the public’s response to alternatives that rival traditionally held positions on highly emotional issues. The hope that drives the public interest in this story is what Kenneth has chosen to explore in this work. The power of public sentiment surrounding this story seems to have given the media license to exploit the issue on a global level that is actually affecting change within the medical profession.
In this installation, the television holds a central place of authority suspended in the midst of tubes and amplifiers that appear to feed the story it tells. The subdued mystery of this odd construction is reflective of much of Kenneth Doren’s contemporary art making. Magical and manipulative qualities of mediation seduce his audiences in the form of operas, videos, musical compositions, drawings and photos that he has reconstructed. Although he notes that his work is often described as dark, it is probably the mystery that surrounds the deconstruction or manipulation of a familiar form that intrigues him and informs work like Crusading. It is a process of investigation that Kenneth embarks upon when he “takes things apart”, in order to see an idea or an art form in a new way. In the case of Crusading, his manipulations of familiar news-media devices subtly lead his audience to reconsider how we “read the news”, and possibly recognize preconceived notions we bring to such readings.
The microphone sitting in front of the young singer in Kenneth’s video appears to reference an anchor person on a television news show who is set up to give a seamless account of the story at hand — delivered with total comprehension and concern — no matter how dislocated he is from what he is actually reading. The impediment or difficulty we experience when we are watching this video is the gap we feel between what we are conditioned to expect of a child, of an operatic song or of a TV broadcast, and what we actually get. The delivery of “the news” is not seamless, and polished. It is read by a child who obviously does not understand what she has been given to read, nor does she feel any need to disguise her disinterest and boredom. The resulting sequences are humourous and poignant as we contrast the innocent honesty of a child with the highly manipulated but supposedly objective deliverance of “the anchor man.”
Despite the controversial content of the subject Kenneth has chosen for this installation he is not pedantic. He is not interested in particular theory or doctrine here nor in his other works. He makes an overview that works towards a new perspective that might unravel formal rules and reveal something beyond a literal meaning. Kenneth’s closely cropped images of the young singer create an intensely intimate view of her reading. He has often used children in his work as “collaborators” because he enjoys “the power of their expression” and the contrast of “their honesty and their precise way of thinking”, with our lack of respect for them as makers of meaning. Although Kenneth is not interested in being didactic in his work, he does strive to create a “rub” or discrepancy between our preconceived notions of how information should be mediated and the recognition of an insidious cultural disrespect for particular voices.
There is an obvious generosity that Kenneth shares with the subjects of his work. These mainly include children, handicapped people and animals. They appear in all phases of the creation of his videos, operas and musical compositions. As we see here in Crusading, the people his media manipulates still emerge as subjects themselves due to his open approach to their own artistry. The resulting humour and intimacy in his work evolves out of his willingness to let the actor, singer or writer take charge of the story or song in their own voice. He sees himself as an editor who enjoys watching the creation of new art forms by the subjects he employs in his works. Although his viewers may sense that there is something incongruent or out of place in his re-constructions, what he allows us to experience is an understanding or recognition of the authority we unquestioningly give to the media.
Crusading is an opportunity to watch how this innovative young artist unravels the making of a media issue, or the prescribed use of video, song, voice and music to playfully recreate them as vehicles to send new voices, new poetry and possibly new ways of seeing to his viewers.
AMY GOGARTY – MONTESQUIEU’S TOWER
In the summer of 1998, I was a tourist in Italy. Anxious to make sense of my experiences, I climbed as many towers and hills as I could to survey my surroundings. In this, I was guided by Charles-Louis Montesquieu (1689-1755), who commented on his own travels in Italy:
When I arrive in a city, I always go up onto the highest steeple or the highest tower, in order to see the entire ensemble, before seeing the parts; and, upon leaving the city, I do the same thing, in order to fix down my ideas.
My experiences formed the basis for this particular arrangement of my work. For the past ten years, I have produced acrylic paintings on plywood squares in dimensions of 12”, 16” and 36”. The paintings consist of 30 to 40 layers of thin paint, which I sand and steel-wool to remove irregularities. The images I use derive from art history texts, encyclopedias and related visual sources. Some paintings include short phrases or longer texts, which are often 17th- or 18th-century in origin. For the past six years, I have been conserving and archiving my work so that individual panels merge with the collective, their particular meanings determined only by the arrangement in which they are presented. I regard this archive as flexible and open to a variety of arrangements.
In this installation, 24” square panels are arranged in a straight line around one corner in the gallery to suggest windows or lookouts at the top of a tower. The images include market, bird and still life paintings by 16th- and 17th-century Flemish and Dutch painters; a 19th-century encyclopedia image of penguins; the figure of Synagogue in Bamberg Cathedral. Viewers may observe the paintings with binoculars, simulating the experience of inspecting the prospect from a tower. They may also approach the works, as if descending from the tower to experience the geography and culture of the city close at hand.
Conceptually, the work follows my own process of investigating European visual culture, which I very much admire. However, as a North American, I find myself ironically positioned at some remove from this culture, which often contradicts my personal values. The activities of observing, inspecting, reflecting and interpreting are very much a part of my own process for producing and arranging these works.
An artist book located near the binoculars expands my ideas with panoramic scenes photographed from high vantage points throughout Italy. The accompanying text meditates on the relationship between the “towering vision” of the tourist and the painter’s vision. Mock library or archive drawer fronts identify the paintings in the exhibition, and a baseboard is inscribed with a 17th-century definition of raison:Raison, se de quelquefois la seule faculté imaginative. Les chimeres sont des estres de raison, qui ne subsistent que dans nostres imagination. (Dictionaire universel de Furetière, 1690)
Amy Gogarty, October, 1998
EXCERPTS FROM THE INFORMATION SERIES (AMBIGUOUS) – ANGELA INGLIS
The work I have been doing over the past few years is rooted in ideas about making solid objects from fragments of things. It is part of my curiosity about bringing together characteristics of painting, sculpture, architecture and literature – the idea that visual and written language/information exists together within an object. I am interested in concepts that move in and out of a variety of meanings, and how language is shaped through the flow and digestion of information.
In the piece excerpts from the information series (ambiguous), the hard-copy texts I used to build the work are related to daily activity, local context and generalized living. This work is built from materials I find during the ordinary course of a day, ranging from grass and leaves, to shredded corporate information and telephone directories. The dynamic between the public self and the private self comes into play, and what is interesting is how that dynamic molds new metaphors in our constantly shifting worlds.
“Again I thought that the cones looked like torches, and that there might be some meaning in their shape, because those torches were not torches, but parodies of torches, and the pink trace of pleasure they so solemnly displayed was not pleasure but a parody of pleasure, which would seem to capture the inescapable parodical nature of all torches and pleasures…” Milan Kundera, The Joke.
SHAWNA KENNEDY – FISH OUT OF WATER
To define the exact influences of ARTIFICIAL BREATHING – Respiration Artificielle, is to solidify a moment in my life. Allowing the interpretation to float and shift in myself allows the piece to breath and live. To define can stifle and clutter with words — human words — and overwhelm a delicate moment or emotion. Even in the context of this writing, I struggle to maintain a balance between academic interpretation and poetic, fluid integrity.
Women out of water.
The lesbian community I am involved with has carved a niche for itself in my town. Often marginalized by the status quo, we band together to survive and thrive. Ironically, until we make our sexuality known, we are valued and appreciated members of our larger community. When we are public about our sexuality we are suddenly met with great opposition from our neighbours, churches and council members. Sadly, we lose our regular status as “Good Neighbour of the Week”. Whatever positive community involvement we were recognized for becomes suddenly irrelevant.
Fish out of water.
In ARTIFICIAL BREATHING – Respiration Artificielle, the lesbian/androgynous body is juxtaposed with the body of a rare and dying fish. This juxtaposition is a means of addressing separateness from society and habitat. When this separation results in the death of the rare fish, the small community of onlookers are faced with their own detachmentand left grieving. The fish sculpture now presented the gallery represents a preserved, artificial body; not unlike a grizzly bear in a
taxidermy display. Something to admire up close with the guilty knowledge that were it alive we wouldn’t have the
privilege of being in its presence.
I touch upon the fragility of the environment and highlight the importance of diversity with regards to people in their communities and species in the wild.
Words out of water.
G.I. Gurdjieff was a Russian philosopher who claimed to have answered every question possible. Seventy years later his writing is dated. His analogies are absurd. His highly intellectualized writing highlights the ambiguities that arise with the use of language. One person’s opinion becomes truth. Truth becomes dogma, then law, and finally, the habits of a nation.
The passage of time, the translation from Russian to English to French, the context in which it is presented and my restructuring of phrases all serve to alter his initial meaning. From his text Views from the Real World, I’ve taken his writing one step further than time and translation have already.
What is the difference between a good neighbour and a good lesbian neighbour? A person is, yes, both these things, but what makes someone not be these things at the same time?
To remove me from my nature is to make me endangered. To “cure” parts of me, as some would wish, would make my breathing artifical.
ROY MEUWISSEN-HENDRICKX [EXCERPTS FROM NOTS AND STATEMENT (1997/98)]
(The most admirable trait of an interesting painting is that one is able to look simultaneously at, into, and through or beyond it while having it reflect what is in front of it as well.)
In questioning the mechanics of photography, painting and subsequent viewing practices, it has become necessary to present resulting
images metaphorically as double agents in turn operating as illegal aliens — or auto-schematically the way mirrors function — within a
conventional critical framework or history; and using the decorative camouflage of an abstract syntax as disguise.
What occurs in the painting is a sense of continual slippage — a recurring evanescence or breakdown of perceived visual phenomenon. The resulting image exists neither here nor there — outside time as a time-image, potentially anywhere, but inevitably encountered
“after the fact” (en passant) or incidentally — invoking a sense of displaced memory and premonition simultaneously. And, moreover, allowing for the subsequent fictionalization of previous realities.
In other words, the image-content and time-context of the work converge to establish paintings which actively exhibit elusive tendencies, pretending simultaneously that they are and are not what they seem and thereby complicating conventional viewing infrastructures between object and observer.
Finally, the paintings are intended to operate, through a distancing effect, at the “moment in which desire,” unrealized and intangible,
“has yet to ossify into identity, a strategic move that untangles desire from both deviance and explanation.”1
1) Manohla Dargis, “Brave New World,” Artforum, summer (1992), p. 8 – 9.
THE AMNESIA CASES – STEVEN NUNODA
“I have insisted that any new structure for codifying experience and moving information, be it alphabet or photography, has the power of imposing its structural character and assumptions upon all levels of our private and social lives — even without the benefit of concepts or of
– Marshall McLuhan
I sit at a computer composing this statement, as I did when I planned all of the work in my portion of this exhibition. Ironically, I find myself about to comment on the manner in which our use of technology has transformed our thinking to the extent that we have begun to use compuspeak to describe our thinking and even our interpersonal relations. The metaphors which we have used for the functions of the mind are telling indicators of our world views. The dominant metaphor for the mind in this period of datacracy derives from our belief that computers are a kind of electronic brain (note that the two terms brain and computer both refer to physical objects as much as conceptual structures — a far cry from any pure concept of “mind”). From seeing the computer as a brain we have begun to describe the mind as a computer, a flesh machine made of a complex system of neurons. Nevertheless, despite the advances in Artificial Intelligence, the machines at which so many of us labour are still no more intelligent or sentient than toasters, they simply store, organize and retrieve information. In this, the technology merely emulates some of the many human mental faculties.
The Amnesia Cases open with a similar move. Their structure follows a range of metaphors relating to the translations which occur among memory, perception and language. The work centres around a card index of cross-referenced anecdotes and definitions which correlate to specific cases. Connections are available to be made out of the crates’ contents of images, text and objects. As with our memories, however, not all of the information is available at any given time. The information in the cards and cases is always partial, and the viewer is invited to adopt the role of the diagnostician or detective to make of the evidence a coherent tale (or head). The
cases taken as a whole are a physical structure, storing information and providing opportunities to the viewer for sensation and interpretation. They are like a brain — a network of neurons — waiting for a thought to fire across them, but the intelligence and the meanings produced are provided my the mind of a spectator.