Friday, November 12, 2010

Odds and Entries at XPACE

I wrote the exhibition text for this fantastic show opening tonight at XPACE. The show-- of work by Toronto's Tongue and Groove Collective-- involves the installation of sculptural interventions in an elaborate cluster of found drawers. Here is some information about the show:

Odds and Entries
Tongue and Groove Collective

November 12-December 11, 2010
Reception: November 12th, 7pm

XPACE Cultural Centre/XBASE
58 Ossington Avenue

Simon Black, Kailey Bryan, Robert Clements, Maggie Flynn, Jeanette Hicks, Brian Hobbs, Meghan Scott and Tasha Turner

Worn, unwanted and left for the landfill, fifteen dressers and cabinets have been hoarded in XBASE. Granted a second chance, these drawers no longer passively house socks and employee files. They are stacked, leaned and fastened to each other. In the basement space they take over, free to be explored. The collaborating artists inhabit these sliding spaces creating relationships between the drawers and those who visit them.

More info about the show can be found here.

Odds and Entries
Exhibition Text

When I was eight years old, I had a friend named Sandra. One day she came to my house to play. Within minutes of arriving, she pulled a see-through plastic take-out container out of her pink shoulder bag. “This is my kit,” she told me. Inside the container were the following items: a folded-up tissue, a length of green string, three maple keys, a black marble, a cut-out photograph of a overflowing basket of apples from a magazine, a tiny fabric doll and a Ritz cracker. I remember being jealous of Sandra’s kit. I tried to make one of my own, but it didn’t work out. There was something about hers-- maybe the way the tissue was folded, creating the perfect little bed for the doll-- that made it better, and far more alive than mine.

When I was nineteen years old, I moved into my second apartment on Maynard Avenue in Parkdale. It was an eight-story apartment building, and most of its tenants were over fifty. After moving my things into the unit’s smaller bedroom on my first night there, I decided to start hanging my clothes in the closet. As I was preparing to fold my freshly-purchased-and-unused towels (organized by the colours of the rainbow, of course) and put them on the top shelf of the closet, I noticed something red pushed to the very back corner of the shelf. I jumped to grab for it, and upon realizing what it was, my heart jumped out of my chest. I threw it back onto the shelf and slammed the door shut. The object was a used, strappy red high heel shoe. It may as well have been a dismembered limb. Later that night, I got my boyfriend to retrieve the shoe and throw it away.

These stories attest to the potency of objects. We connect with used and found everyday objects because of the traces of human life they contain. While we consume images, facts, and pseudo-facts in abundance on a daily basis, the voiceless, tangible stuff of everyday life contains the real truth or our existence but lacks the means to tell it. In an age of infinite information, are the secret lives of objects one of the last facets of our lives that have not been laid bare?

In the exhibition Odds and Entries, objects of ambiguous origin are contained in a series of salvaged drawers. Some of the interventions are as subtle as whispers—one drawer’s interior is adorned with a single spider web made of human hair, simultaneously evoking a sense of intimate human presence, desolation and loss. Another drawer contains a surreal, illuminated campground dreamscape, and another a forest of rotating cocktail umbrellas. While one drawer alludes to a pointedly domestic space, the others feel like strange and fantastical hybrids of space that is public and private, indoor and outdoor, sensual as well as mechanical. Another drawer plays with the idea of bodily detritus, attraction and repulsion, but to a more absurd and suggestive end.

Odds and Entries, like the closet with the red shoe and Sandra’s kit, involve containment as a way of isolating objects in order to give them new meaning. Situating work in repositories associated with the domestic realm-- as well as the exhibition’s emphasis on organic discovery-- defies conventions of gallery display and arrangement. The fact that the installation is situated in a raw, subterranean space further defies such conventions, while hinting at the role of our subconscious as a guide through the objects we encounter. Most importantly, the work presents us with objects and environments shrouded in ambiguity. While we can never know the true histories of the objects we happen upon by chance, we can lose ourselves in their mystery and meditate on their impact. In doing so, we not only allow ourselves to see the hidden life in inanimate objects, but can gain insight into our own lives and the lives of others.

Image: Kailey Bryan

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Fresh, Local, Craft! at the Ontario Crafts Council

I am in the following show at the OCC which opens tomorrow! The Greenbelt Quilt is an amazing project that has toured Ontario over the past few months. Come and see it's unveiling!

Fresh, Local, Craft!
At the Ontario Crafts Council
990 Queen Street West

November 4 - December 12

Opening Reception: Thursday, November 4th, 7:30 – 9:30 pm

Panel Discussion: Thursday, November 4th, 6:00 – 7:30 pm. The Great Hall, 1087 Queen St W, Toronto

Fresh, Local, Craft! is an exhibition that fuses community-building and environmental activism with the processes of craft making. Springing from a fruitful partnership, Fresh, Local, Craft! also constitutes the final tour stop for the Greenbelt Quilt of Possibilities project. The Quilt project originated through the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation’s request for assistance in creating a community work that celebrates and advocates for Ontario’s protected Greenbelt space. In response, the OCC organized and implemented the project with Kate Busby as curator, and has been running a tour of the Quilt throughout 2010 with noteworthy stops at Queen’s Park and the G8 Summit in Muskoka.

Underlying the connection between quilt-making and community building is the more widespread movement of craft as a popular medium for activism, where craftspeople and artists engage their creativity as a tool for change. Local economies, sustainability, recycling and up-cycling are addressed in different techniques, media and processes to question dominant norms of consumerism, worth and health. The
Quilt contributors deal with these issues in their donated textile squares and reflections, and in Fresh, Local, Craft! their voices are accompanied by ten artists whose work expands on the question of stewardship through textiles, glass, ceramic, paper, wood and metal.

Fresh, Local, Craft! explores the dynamic between individual and communal processes of making in response to our relationship with the local environment. It celebrates the positive role that the Greenbelt plays in our lives, including its ability to bridge urban and rural life with the preservation of Ontario’s rich natural environment. Perhaps most importantly, the exhibition points in a direction where objects, food, air, water and soil are integrated into a society that no longer takes them for granted.

Fresh, Local, Craft! includes the work of: Glenna Agnew, Wendy Anderson Breedveld, Lizz Aston, Jayne Barrett, Tara Bursey, the Burr House Spinners and Weavers Guild, Maggie Butterfield Dickinson, Karen Chisvin, Natalie Drajewicz, Lise Downe, Roisin Fagan, Evann Frisque, Brette Gabel, Judy Gingrich, Fabienne Good, Margaret Gurica Hannigan, Clayton Haigh, Philip Hare, Beverley Hastings, Linda Heron, Pat Hertzberg, Kate Hunter, Mark Jaroszewicz, Sheila Jonah, Colleen Kennedy, Jen Kneulman, Mary Kroetsch, Katherine Laco, Sophia Lada, Kathy Lakatos, Kaitalin Lawford, Lory MacDonald, Nola McConnan, Valerie McLean, Karen Menzies, Lee Meszoros, Midori Nagai, Stacey Olson, Janet Patterson, Dorie Preston, Laura Preston, Julia Prime, Louisa Pucci, Danielle Reddick, Mary Ann Rich, Jean Pierre Schoss, Alison Seale, Brenda Secord, Don Stinson, Anastasia Tiller, Cheryl Trudeau, Catherine Vamvakas Lay, Linda Varekamp, Mary Walker, Wendy, Wallace, Helena Wehrstein, Liz Wilde, Erica Wilson, and Sandi Wong.