On the lower level of the Cooper Cole Gallery the strobe light bleeds into the edges of the main entrance leading curious viewers down to Jesse Harris’ solo exhibition. Instantly the eye is drawn towards the mysterious room and it’s distinct sign inspired by San Francisco’s staple punk spot, 924 Gilman Street Project.
The sign, the strobe light, and the vinyl works all come together to create what the gallery owner referred to as the inclusive ethos of the punk movement. The strobe light is intense and shocks the system, but it’s also reminiscent of a time that the world has largely moved past. Jesse Harris recreates a time of unexpected diversity and severity in music.
A vinyl plotter is used in the style of an etching, rather than a knife scratching the records in order to leave impressions of 80’s photographs on the vinyls. The title PATHS harkens to the lines that are drawn on the records as their plotted paths retell the story of the punk movement. Thematically, the plotting seems to be leaving its imprint on the records, as if the punk movements influence on music has left an utterly unique mark. The photographs are part of the music as much as the music is part of the photographs.
The photographic records of the punk movement printed on actual vinyl records seem to comment on the influence of the music scene on non-musical art forms. Although Jesse Harris is not a musician it’s clear how punk music fueled this specific project. The works are Jesse Harris’ way of making an album without actually producing any original music.
Overall the tight space projects the intimacy and inclusion of the punk movement. Everything about the exhibition, down to Harris’ bonus bathroom selfie (picture above), works to recreate the intensity of an unforgettable time in musical history.
*Exhibition information: November 6 – December 12, 2015, Cooper Cole Gallery, 1134 Dupont Street, Toronto. Gallery hours: Wed – Fri: 1 – 6 p.m., Sat: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.