If you’re squeamish about genitals, then by all means avoid Concordia’s faculty of fine arts gallery until Sept. 26. Those of a less squeamish nature should head on over to the EV building for a weird, but interesting time.
Four exhibitions share floor space, exploring themes of insecurity, nature, waste, artificiality, and the artistic process.
In the main gallery, Jane Tingley’s Plant (iPod) Installation fuses technology and biology. A series of plants are rigged with speakers, sprouting oddly formed branches and bulbs covered with cork bark. White cables snake towards the bench in the middle of the room; the analogy with roots is hard to miss.
At first, it sounds like they’re whispering. When visitors get close, however, sensors change the whispers to old fairy tales about trees and forests. Because the voices are so delicate, viewers literally have to bend down next to the plants and turn their ears towards the speakers. Whether that was accidental or intentional is unclear.
In the projection room adjoining the main gallery, guest curator Mike Clintberg brings together recent videos by five Canadian artists. The works are presented together as Recovering Agnostic and address “the problematics of confessional, persuasive, or emotive displays in art.”
Among the videos, we find a topless artist puzzling out her craft in visual diary form, a pastiche of film clips assembled into a bone-chilling narrative, and a woman performing a cover of a popular French song in American Sign Language.
The second half of the exhibition can be found in the windows running alongside the FOFA Gallery.
Laura St. Pierre’s Model Dome centers around consumerism and waste. Although some of her photographic work is represented, the real eye-catcher is the sea of discarded CDs strewn across the floor. St. Pierre picked through Concordia’s waste management system to find plywood beams and assorted zip ties, finally combining the detritus into a thatched CD wall.
And finally, there’s Griffith Aaron Baker’s Residual Geoscapes, a wall-sized arrangement of yet more trash. But unlike St. Pierre, who used the discarded items in their original form, Baker transformed his objects by successively coating them with layers of waste paper. The process lends the work a sculptural quality that looks like carved stone from afar.
The real show stealers, though, were Daniel Barrow’s Artist Statement and Jim Verburg’s For a Relationship. Both videos are shown as part of Recovering Agnostic.
Artist Statement is an animated work with playful images overlaid with the creator’s voice over. He confesses his anxieties as an artist, declaring at the end, “I just want to make people cry.” Extra kudos for the excellent pairing of music and image, with a finespun ending by New York “sissy pop” band The Ballet.
Barrow follows a unique process in which he projects, layers, and manipulates images on mylar transparencies.
The results are colorful, tactile, and infused with an easy charm. Amazingly, they also look computer-animated.
Alex Kamino, a fourth-year dance student and volunteer at the FOFA, had nothing but praise for Barrow’s work.
“You just look at [Artist Statement] and go ‘How did he do that?'” he said. “The images remind me of an old computer I would’ve owned as a kid.”
For a Relationship is a “motion piece” made up of two years’ worth of photo stills. Like a high-speed slide show, these pictures show vignettes of Verburg’s life: sex, love, family and travels. Nothing is left to the imagination as the artist is stripped naked (literally and figuratively) for all to see.
These two videos also happen to show copious amounts of penises.
If you’d like to know why, why not ask the artists themselves? The vernissage is this Thursday at the FOFA, from 6 to 8 p.m. See you there.
The exhibitions run at the FOFA Gallery (1515 Sainte-Catherine Ouest, EV-1.715) from Sept. 2-26, Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free.