Over the last few years, people have become more and more aware of our proximity to—and distance from—the world around us. As much of our lives moved online, it changed our understanding of the simple act of witnessing, what it means to see and be seen. What medium can better confront this shifting relationship than photography, which is, in many ways, the art of bearing witness.
Each of the artists in the Spectra: Gallery 44 Members Exhibition group show grapple with shifting placements of self—online, in our world, in our communities and with each other. In various, and distinctly personal ways, each artist explores our undeniable interconnectedness amid our growing sense of isolation. Collectively, these artists show us glimpses of longing. A longing for belonging and closeness shimmers through the bittersweet sunshine and shadows of works by Bessy Lustiva-Espina, Shaney Hermann and Ana Šaśić.
Bessy Lustiva-Espina, Seaton Village, 2020, Gicliee print from digitized film scan, 18” x 24”
The details and closeness of these shots are balanced by the distance explored in the photographs of Ivan Rupeš, Adrian Amaricucai and Ismayil Atmaca stretching light and shadow between isolated figures. A sense of isolation is fully realized in Monica Gupta’s series Aging in Place, which captures the bare realities of a shelter for seniors, one of the communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adrian Amaricucai, Together/Apart #9, 2022, Film on Inkjet print, 11” x 14”
In the description of his work, Ross Stockwell says he wants to explore “life, decay and what falls between the two”. I found myself asking if we could separate the two. This collection asks: can we manufacture this space if we try hard enough or are both processes—life and decay—continual and inextricable? Linda Briskin references Ariel’s song in The Tempest when she talks about “sea change”. She includes a few lines in her own artist statement, but she leaves the first few lines out. In those lines there is living decay. “Of his bones are coral made, /Those are pearls that were his eyes, /Nothing of him that doth fade, /But doth suffer a sea change, /into something rich and strange.” A constant shift—life evolving and persevering.
Linda Briskin, Sea Change, 2021, Archival Pigment Print, 20” x 16”
Like the strength and stillness that perseveres through time and space in his vivid photographs, Glacial Erratics – Georgian Bay Fred Lum explores rocks shifted by the end of the last glacial period of the Pleistocene epoch. Although the term ‘glacial erratics’ specifically refers to rocks displaced by shifting ice formations, the apparent contradiction of the words themselves creates a wonderful sense of time and place that beautifully compliments the work by each of the artists in this exhibit.
Fred Lum, Glacial Erratics – Georgian Bay 1, 2021, silver fiber contact print, selenium toned, 15” x 26”
Their relationships to place are very important to these artists. Both in their awareness of the world and the people around them and in their understanding of how we shape that world. Whether documenting the decay of man-made objects—and with them a moment in their own life—like Huw Morgan, or embracing the changing relationship of art and technology while longing for more connection to nature like Richelle Forsey’s AI gardens; or Lilianne Schneider’s images overlapping nature with digitally generated traditional Peruvian tocapu.
Richelle Forsey, AI Garden (3), 2022, photograph on cold press photo rag, 19” x 13”
Each series stands on its own as a precise individual perspective, a slight shift, a whispered invitation to notice the world around you a little differently. Together they build something that feels very current and hopeful, encouraging us all to find new ways of looking and building—to find life in decay.
Images are courtesy of Spectra: Gallery 44.
Artist talk and tour: Saturday, May 21, 2022 / 11am for the 2nd floor artists & 1pm for the 3rd floor artists.
*Exhibition information: Spectra: Gallery 44 Members Exhibition, a group show organized by Danielle Goshay and David Scriven with layout curation by Holly Chang, May 18 – June 5, 2022, Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw St, Toronto. Gallery hours: Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm; Sat–Sun, 9am–6pm. Part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 2022.