Vision and beauty form the relationship between the audience and the artwork. That’s the message in the FOFA gallery’s new show, which opened last week. The four artists use repetitive imagery to act as sources of both depth and superficiality, placing the viewer in the interesting position of playing an active role in the creation of the meaning and the construction of the piece.
Cliff Caines: “The King + I” (main gallery room)
This video installation was inspired by and dedicated to Caines’ uncle, Derrick Caines, who had Down syndrome and passed away earlier this year. A custom built 19th-century-inspired mahogany stereoscopic cabinet stands facing an old wooden chair. Upon looking into the lenses one will see a 21-minute-long 3D black-and-white video of Derrick Caines sitting open-mouthed on a chair. The room is filled with the sound recording of Derrick singing an a capella rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender.” The piece gives the impression of being a kind of commemorative monument. The viewer will be captivated in this multi-sensory experience, though it is unlikely that most will remain for the duration of the video because the imagery and audio are repetitive. The Toronto-based artist has an MFA degree from Concordia University and his work has been displayed at film festivals across Europe and North America.
Cheryl Kolak Dudek: “Tableaux Vivants & Other Narrative Strategies” (black box)
With this photography series, Dudek aims to challenge our normal conception of the narrative by using turkey and chicken wishbones instead of people in the arrangement of tableaus. The photos have been enlarged and are arranged in three horizontal columns across three walls for a total of 24 stills. Some bones are arranged in tight clusters while others are spread out evenly across a flat surface. The viewer will react by trying to find the relationship between the series of stills and by attempting to relate the images to some familiar and real object. The Montreal-based artist is an associate professor of Print Media at Concordia University and her work has been exhibited internationally in both private collections and public shows.
Fiona Annis: “The After-Image (SwanSongs)” (York corridor vitrine)
This piece consists of a series of stills separated intermittently by short quotes extracted from the final works of writers Virginia Woolf and Michel de Montaigne. It is a documentary of the “swan songs’ of these individuals, a phase that comes from a Greek myth claiming swans are born mute but burst into song before they die. The mainly black-and-white photographs show the connection between these particular swan songs and the physical landscapes from which their authors came. To the viewer, this piece will require much more than a simple glance. Annis is a Montreal-based artist currently pursuing a PhD at Concordia.
Matthew Evans: “James_(underscore)_Brown” (Ste-Catherine St. vitrine)
This video installation consists of two television monitors facing out onto the street angled slightly inwards toward one another. The television on the left displays the word “JAMES’ while the television on the right displays the word “BROWN.’ The words are in two different fonts and the lettering and background colours are constantly changing and flickering. The message is left to the viewer to construct based on what the words “james’ and “brown’ trigger in their memories. The viewer may react by either taking an active role in attempting to construct a message or by remaining passive by concluding that no message exists. Evans, who currently works and lives in Montreal after spending several years in Japan, is a Canadian artist who works mainly with video projects.
Admission is free. The FOFA gallery is in the EV building. Open Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.