Tag: installation

Democracy has Fallen: Howie Tsui at The Power Plant

Review December 4, 2021

By Jacqueline Kok

Democracy is said to be under threat in various countries across the world, such as the United States, Brazil and Venezuela. Political leaders like Trump, Bolsonaro and Maduro have been heavily scrutinized for their divisive policies that have caused political unrest. In Hong Kong, the people face a similar situation: protesters routinely occupy the streets, brawling with riot police. They fight against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the enforcement of laws and security measures that go against liberal democracy. To outsiders unaware of the turmoil, Hong Kong is unruly and violent. To insiders, Hong Kong is in a “state of exception,” sitting at “a threshold of indeterminacy between democracy and absolutism,”1 where, on the latter end, the CCP holds central authority. Laws become slip- pery when acts of violence that are normally condemned, like police brutality, are passed by the current Pro-Beijing government. In these kinds of fragile moments, where past governing systems could rapidly shatter at the hands of a current ruling government, one can’t help but begin to wonder: would anarchy, even with its implications, provide possible solutions to a jeopardized democracy?

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A Taxonomy of Strangers: Libby Oliver’s Soft Shells

Review November 24, 2021

By Tyler Muzzin

The photographs in Libby Oliver’s series Soft Shells engender the same paradoxical nature that the title implies: they are portraits that conceal the subject, while revealing more about the subject’s individuality than most portrait photography could ever hope to achieve. Exhibited at Gallery Stratford, on the edge of the Shakespeare Festival grounds and a short walk from one of the most celebrated costume departments in Canadian theatre, it’s only fitting to quote Jaques’ well-worn prologue to Act II of As You Like It as an epigraph: 

“All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players;”

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Affirmations for Wildflowers: An Ethnobotany of Desire: Tania Willard at SFU Audain Gallery

Review November 12, 2021

By Andrea Valentine-Lewis

WE can CHANGE

the FUTURE is INDIGENOUS

the Land is STRONG

I AM the FUTURE

the REVOLUTION has COME

I am the LAND

I have VALUE

Tania Willard’s Affirmations for Wildflowers: An Ethnobotany of Desire, ran from September 14th to November 13th, 2020, within the street-facing windows of the SFU Audain Gallery. The seven statements including “the Land is STRONG” and “I have VALUE” were projected as glowing declarations onto a wall running the length of the windows. Each declaration, or “affirmation” as the exhibition’s title suggests, was accompanied by suspended copper-coloured reflective disks, the surface of which were etched with black wildflower silhouettes. At the bottom of each disk, a trim of pink, orange, yellow, and brown silk ribbons embellished the composition.

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Ninga Mìnèh: Caroline Monnet at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Review November 5, 2021

By Didier Morelli

In her first solo museum exhibition in Canada, presented by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), Caroline Monnet chose eighteen recent works for Ninga Mìnèh, many of which had never previously been shown. Following her rise to prominence in the local (2020 Pierre-Ayot Award), national (2020 Sobey Art Award), and international (2019 Whitney Art Biennial) art scenes, the interdisciplinary artist of Algonquin and French ancestry made her much anticipated full-scale entry into one of Montreal’s most heralded cultural institutions. Ninga Mìnèh focuses on the architecture of Indigenous communities in Canada, specifically the cheaply and hastily built reservation housing that further entrenches First Nations peoples into economic and social precarity.1 Conceptually striking and spatially inviting, the exhibition draws on postmodern codes and mediums with a politically and socially incisive subtext, thus interpreting new conceptual horizons for the artist’s practice.

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The Objects That We Carry: Lorena Salomé at Trinity Square Video

Review October 13, 2021

By Noor Alé

Migrancy, and its generative potential to create a series of movements, is an enduring interest of Lorena Salomé—a Toronto-based Argentinian artist—whose practice employs technology to activate commonplace objects and dismantled electronics to create kinetic works. In Salomé’s exhibition, The Objects We Carry1 at Trinity Square Video, co-presented with Public Visualization Lab in Toronto, she examined issues relating to global migration, gentrification, and eviction through an installation that invited community participation, as well as a series of collaborations with artists whose practices are engaged with travel. 

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when the big E unfurls its tongue: Michael Lachman at CSA Space

Review September 23, 2021

By Alexandra Box

“Man’s greatness is always to recreate his life, to recreate what is given to him, to fashion that very thing which he undergoes. Through work he produces his own natural existence. Through science he recreates the universe by means of symbols. Through art he recreates the alliance between his body and his soul.”
– Simone Weil, The Mysticism of Work, Gravity and Grace (1947)

Late-capitalist mediascapes require the attention of the broader visual world that existed before workers encountered an economic and hygienic reordering due to mass death and unemployment, such as the affordance to some for working remotely. This social and biological decline is making it difficult—at most times, unsafe—to show up in traditional ways for provocation, or a mundane office job. Labour can only benefit from collective reflection, particularly on culture (abstraction, ornament, material, narrative) coming out of charged social and material conditions. Artist Michael Lachman grips onto the strength of fiction and satire as sculptural strategies in his solo exhibition, Let Me Introduce Myself, at CSA Space in Vancouver. Lachman transforms the gallery into a dreamlike office space riddled with stylized artifacts, producing a comedic story told by objects. Technical changes to the gallery space, such as dropping the ceiling height and lining the floor with blue modular carpet, reduced the standing posture for viewers and added to the satirical landscape of “the office.” The exhibition encapsulates the methodical rituals of the nine-to-five workday using comedy, as Lachman steers gallery visitors towards cultural mores, overdetermined ideas of professionalism, and the absurdities of manhood. 

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Ursula’s Garden at Sibling

Review August 4, 2021

By Alex Lepianka

I am surrounded by two hundred and twenty-two plaster polyps cast in place along the perimeter of Sibling’s gallery floor. The forms, which make up Robert Anthony O’Halloran’s installation Ursula’s Garden, are nippled, bellied and creased, with a rare few still stretching the condoms in which they were cast. Pushed up against the wall or slumped onto the floor, collapsing, tired and erect, the castings demarcate a lively zone within the gallery. There is humour to O’Halloran’s installation, and it hits like a scrap of itinerant latex flung, forgotten and rediscovered in a faraway corner of my bedroom the morning after a low-consequence fuck. O’Halloran’s garden is not the underwater Disney hell that the show’s title references, but neither does it realize a place of oceanic, post-coital peace. Instead, each one of its castings strikes an irreplicable pose, hardened or perhaps exhausted by its once-living desires.

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Jeremy Shaw’s ‘Phase Shifting Index’ at Centre Pompidou

Review March 2, 2021

By Helen Lee

There is no fresher horror to the modern-day luddite than the social media Live Video function. In the Live Video, the subject is tripled: there is the subject filming, the subject being viewed, and the subject auto-saved for posterity by the filming interface. Live Video has a forebearer in performance art, such as Joan Jonas’ incorporation of live video into her “actions” during the 1970’s. In describing Jonas’ performance Vertical Role (1972), curator Barbara London writes that by using live video, Jonas invokes the “unedited present” as a means of dislocating space and elongating time. (1) In contrast, the practice of “going live” on social media renders the unedited present as digital content to be viewed and shared on a for-profit platform. The medium of video art in the contemporary context is uniquely positioned to ask: Where is a better vantage point from which to view the present than Live?

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Tasman Richardson’s ‘Kali Yuga’

Review January 7, 2021

By Madeline Bogoch

In her 1976 essay “Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism,” Rosalind Krauss attempts to pinpoint the singular essence of video-based artwork, speculating on the possibility of the claim that the “medium of video is narcissism”. (1) For Krauss, the linchpin of this perspective was the (now taken for granted) instantaneity of video, which produces perpetual feedback that captures the subject in a closed circuit of “self-encapsulation”. (2) There is an implied intimacy in this simultaneity—while Krauss perhaps over-essentialized the quality of video, she shrewdly identified the implicit correlation between video and the psyche. 

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Nadia Belerique at Daniel Faria Gallery

Review December 30, 2020

By Erin Orsztynova

Recently I had a memory come back to me—the type of memory that comes to the surface seemingly out of nowhere, one I imagine would be considered so very mundane that any brain, in an attempt to conserve space, would erase immediately. But there it was, collapsing time, a visceral scene from childhood of me squeezing into the small space beneath my bed. I remembered the tightness of the space, so tight my child-sized head could only fit in sideways. I remembered the smell of the dusty cambric from the boxspring, and the feel of the carpet on my cheek. Close and containing, this small space gave me the experience of disappearing entirely from view, complete with the contradictory desires to both remain hidden and be found. 

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