Undomesticated at Koffler Gallery 

Exhibited at Koffler Gallery in Artscape Youngplace, Undomesticated is a collaborative presentation of conceptual multi-cultural artists that investigates “the psychological, political and emotional layers that shape our sense of home and belonging.” Undomesticated explores aspects of domesticity and territorial manifestations of comfort with political, colonial and diasporic influences by breaking down barriers and typological preconceptions of domestic objects. Undomesticated creates a welcoming tension throughout the gallery and invites the viewer to reconsider how we transform our domestic ecosystem for comfort and aestheticism.  

Yannick Pouliot’s Se suffir à soi-même embodies the paradigm of a purely aesthetic object with the absence of function; a commentary on expensive objects entirely devoted to visual pleasure. It is contrary to our own interactions with furniture in our domestic spaces, which creates a sense of the unsettled and the uncanny. Another visceral piece, created by the indigenous artist Mary Anne Barkhouse, engages with the legacy of colonialism in Canada. She brings nature into the gallery by piercing through the ceiling and reclaiming a place within the constructed space of the Koffler Gallery.

(L-R): Lucy Howe, Wardrobe, 2010; Mary Anne Barkhouse, Michoacán (noticias en el future), 2013, wood, Japanese paper, LEDs and Yannick Pouliot, Se suffir à soi-même, 2001, mixed media. Courtesy of Alain Tremblay. Wall: Nicolas Fleming, Drywall from Koffler Gallery, 2019, drywall, latex paint, plaster, varnish

Throughout the gallery, contributing artist and art director Nicolas Fleming has created an immersive architectural framework made of recycled construction and building materials and exhibit’s artwork created by this display. Repurposed from various installations including Koffler Gallery, Bunker 2, Division Gallery, Evans Contemporary and the Gardiner Museum (from Yoko Ono’s previous show) Fleming’s use of recycled materials “takes on a more aesthetic presentation than their intended purpose in construction,” returning us to the memory of past exhibitions as well as the materials that framed them.

Lucy Howe, Untitled (Chair), 2009 (middle) and Nicolas Fleming. Repurposed drywall (right)

Shaheer Zazai, Untitled Carpet 2. Digital archival prints on watercolour paper, produced in Microsoft Word. Courtesy of Patel Gallery and Koffler Gallery. The product of highlighted characters on Microsoft Word documents, Shaheer Zazai’s produces these digital prints using a knot per square inch technique similar to those employed by Afghan weavers in the design and manufacture of carpets. Each digital carpet is an improvised, organic process, and is comprised of several Word document pages. Shaheer describes his process of working on one page at a time as setting the tone, palette and design for the entire carpet: “Once I’ve placed a shape it tells me what’s going to happen to the rest of the document, and how much room I am left with.” The finished product is a realistic mimetic representation of a textile.

Shaheer Zazai, Untitled Carpet 2, digital archival prints on watercolour paper, produced in Microsoft World in front of Nicolas Fleming, repurposed drywall.

Hannah Claus, Interlacings, 2015, looped projected animation, pine needles, 3:36 min. Animation technician: Scott Benesiinaabandan.

Undomesticated transforms everyday domestic objects “stripped of their familiarity to access deeper levels of relationship to our surroundings.” The exhibit seeks to address the influences that shape our domestic environment and control “what we perceive to be ‘wild’ in search of economic and psychological benefits.”

Keren Sedmina

Images are courtesy of Artscape Youngplace and Koffler Gallery, and supported by Partners in Art.

Featured image: Yannick Pouliot, Régence monomaniaque, 2007

*Exhibition information: Undomesticated, September 18 – November 17, 2019, Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street, Toronto. Gallery hours: Sun – Sat 8 am – 9 pm.

Featuring artists: Mary Anne Barkhouse, Gwenaël Bélanger, Katherine Boyer, Sandra Brewster, Hannah Claus, Erika DeFreitas, Julie Favreau, Nicolas Fleming, Iris Häussler, Lucy Howe, Gunilla Josephson, Lewis Kaye, Valérie Kolakis, Carmela Laganse, Heather Nicol, Dainesha Nugent-Palache, Gord Peteran, Birthe Piontek, Yannick Pouliot, Adrienne Spier, Karen Tam, Kevin Yates, Shaheer Zazai, & Shellie Zhang.

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