Two intense eyes greet me as I step in. The owner of the eyes is in the process of a hunt. The prey? Artists.
It’s not that Kingstone reconciles artists’ torn existence, but recognizes and acknowledges it. Trying to do Two Things at Once (Tale of the Minotaur) presents twenty-eight drawings, five photographs, and one sculpture. The three types of works are connected through hybridity. Using the Greek myth of the Minotaur, these works point a light on the difficulties of living as an artist today.
Not to be eliminated nor nourished, artists are imprisoned by those who demand art, but wish to control it at the same time. We are forced into the mask of a bull, with our naked bodies exposed to the public where vulnerability is not met with compassion, but discomfort.
Five glossy, high-quality photographs hang loose on the walls; in every single one are a human and a Minotaur. The two battle in a staged set, deliberately exposed to show the theatricality and the fakeness. Images are deliberately cropped so that stools, laptops, and lightings are visible, as well as edges of the dirty white backdrop. In every single one, Minotaur is overpowered. Human consistently holds the dominant position, wielding a prop sword at its prey. Body language is an important expression of their dynamic: fully-flexed, fit, and widely-stanced human body against the soft, limp, and aged body of the Minotaur.
Cretan Bull (series of 28), 2017, Pencil on Paper, 14 x 11.75 inches. Courtesy of Pari Nadimi Gallery
Though not in order, pieces of the exhibition narrate the Tale of the Minotaur (attached to the printed statement). The snow-white bull emerges in the sketches; machine with which Pasiphae copulated with the bull is replicated in the sculpture; and the ultimate demise of the Minotaur is reenacted in the photos.
Pasiphae’s Simple Machine shows hybridity by combining a rough wooden structure with a cowhide. The sculpture exists both as a ‘sex machine’ and the coital aftermath. On one hand one can see where Pasiphae’s knees would have been (hinted at with a red cushion). At the same time, the structure vaguely resembles a quadrupedal being. Half covered with hide, half left naked, not unlike the Minotaur in the photographs.
“Its suffering becomes trivial to our society’s quest to contain, dominate, and finally terminate it.” Crete and Athens are forced to accept the Minotaur’s existence, since the ferocious monster is too strong and too human-like. They, however, do all they can do to suppress and control its transgression and subversiveness. Trapped in the maze of contemporary sociopolitical climate, artists face everyday the warriors – lack of support, financial difficulty, instability, crushing self-doubt, etc – that attempt and eventually succeed in killing them.
It is not discouraging, however. It is therapeutic. The always-working, double-jobbing artists are all in the same maze, trying their best to battle their way out. Is there a way out? Who knows.
*Exhibition information: Peter Kingstone, Trying to do Two Things at Once (Tale of the Minotaur), November 10 – December 22, 2017, Pari Nadimi Gallery, 254 Niagara Street, Toronto. Gallery hours: Wed – Sat, 12 – 5 pm.