Saturday, September 22, 2012
Panel – Conversations with the ‘Smart’ artists (TIFF Bell Lightbox)
Richard Rhodes, editor of Canadian Art, started off the Gallery Hop Tours and Talks with the theme ‘smart.’ The panelists included artists: Micah Lexier, Alain Paiement and Laurel Woodcock. While the artists’ visual smarts could be the new register for contemporary art, they also dug deeper into the realm of astute reflection during the talk at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 22nd.
Lexier’s interest in measurements and systems reflected, literally, in his 2010 piece ‘I Am the Coin’ where the materials convey multiple messages to the observer. 20,000 custom-made coins, individually minted, spells out a narrative by writer Derek McCormack.
This collaboration proves to be a tribute of sorts, ironically taking home in the BMO meeting room. Not sure if it’s the Kafkaesque lack of grammar or the shininess of new coins, but I am drawn to reflective things precisely placed upon atypical surfaces. Not to mention the interactive nature of this visual sculpture – a contest to be solved explained on the website iamthecoin.com.
Alain Paiement from Quebec focuses on photography, sculpture and montage. In Panthéon, 1987-97, he demonstrate photography as not being confined by solely the materials used in the photographic process. His take on multiply perspective felt open and sharp – the recreation of any point of view becomes the process and not a finite message.
The naturalness of the living habits and the seemingly unnaturalness of the way in which the piece was captured, reminds me of a confusion we often do not face in our lives. There is a lack of cohesiveness we may feel in our everyday mundane perspectives that we are accustomed to where we fail to see interrelations, multiple perspectives and the compartmentalization of personality. From this photomontage things seem more – infinite.
Woodcock, like Lexier, carefully chooses her materials, objects and references. Focusing on language, quotations and quotes and typography, her inspiration is sourced from popular culture, familiar phrases with multiple possibilities, film and more. Woodcock also has a playfulness evident in her piece, Note to Self, that points out methods in which language is held or absent from – upon a seemingly everyday yellow post-it that is really a sheet of metal sprayed, shaped and made into the replica of a symbol of the written language.
Woodcock’s recent piece, AEEFLLSVY, 2011, 11 flyleaves, stacked and framed, was phenomenal in its simplicity and reminds me of the artistic possibilities with minimal materials. 11 flyleaves were taken from books with the word “Nothingness” in the title. Several allusions to existential genres later, this piece reflects a larger need for understanding of a word layered in symbolism, a beginning – an unmarked surface.
Tours + Talks
The afternoon was dedicated to Gallery Tours and Talks, literally hopping from one place to another in six different areas. I visited Area 6: Dundas Street West.
A large group was meeting in front and inside Art Metropole at 1490 Dundas Street West, a place that is a mixture of an upscale bookstore and art and craft gallery. We learned from our guide critic and Canadian Art contributor Sholem Krishtalka that Art Metrole artists are now showing in Tokyo.
Then the crowd moved to Jessica Bradley Inc. where Shary Boyle – who will represent Canada at the 2013 Venice Biennale – had the opening of her show, Stranger. The gallery was packed to its capacity. Toronto Star art critic and Canadian Art contributor Murray Whyte engaged Boyle into a very interesting conversation about her trip to West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative in March 2011.
“Like a lot of people, I’ve always been interested in the north, it’s solitude and the richness of its life and culture,” said Boyle. She called the show Stranger because she was aware of being a foreigner there. Working at Cape Dorset was like a 9 to 5 job, everyone sat around a common table, no one talked very much, but spent the whole day just drawing together, said Boyle and added many, mostly funny stories about her stay. She worked there with Shuvinai Ashoona and Ohotaq Mikkigak, whose drawings are on display now at Justina M Barnicke Gallery.
Text and photo: Salomeh Ahmadi