When it comes to the world of art, there are so many different niches to be a part of, from photography to painting, drawing to dancing, multimedia; rarely seen is an exhibit that combines all of these genres, making Out of Grace difficult to define, and even more interesting to witness.
Lynda Gaudreau’s project opens this Wednesday at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery. This exhibit in particular explores being “out of dance.” It centres on the relationship between space and time, between the living body and how it coexists with not only other physical beings, but also the transforming world.
Gaudreau, a choreographer since 1992, says her intention of melding the different arts together is to see how the viewer reacts to this meshing, to see if the performers or visual artists cancel each other out, and to question how it is we perceive space and time.
The five white rooms are situated sporadically throughout the gallery, and have been installed with five visual artists’ pieces, and five performers who leap and shudder and slide across the floor, although Gaudreau insists the reoccurring number five is completely coincidental.
The pieces by the visual artists will grow and transform over the five weeks that the exhibit is showing, eliminating the empty spaces of the gallery.
Aude Moreau’s piece, “Caution: Slippery Floor,” appears as a leak from the corner of the immaculate white wall in the main room, oozing slowly out onto the wooden floors, making the viewer wonder whether it’s oil or water or paint or molasses. The spill slowly eats away at the dancers’ space, defining an exclusive territory and changing our perception of the room we are given.
Jerome Fortin is another visual artist with work on display in the entry room. The snowflake-shaped tin can cutouts are strung from the roof in the entryway of the gallery, bringing a meditative, dream-like aura to the space. Fortin’s piece will also be added to over the course of the five weeks, limiting the visitors’ walking space, and the dancers’ moving space.
Deep, storm-like sounds and flickering fluorescent lights lead the performing artists from room to room. The contrast of light versus darkness dictates the dancer’s comfort, and the flashing lights cause stunned, abrupt movements. The performers are constantly reaching out, running from room to room, and expanding a physical desire to take up space, to find clarity.
As the exhibit progresses, the disarray seems to grow, and the performers begin shedding layers, gathering in corners like black lumps of clothing strewn about the floor. While this movement is going on, the viewer is constantly uncertain as to where it is safe to stand. The dancers move from every bench and corner available, often moving into the intimate space of the observer. Gallery visitors are welcomed to wander within every corner of the gallery as well, increasing the unpredictability of where is safe; of what is a comfortable distance.
This meshing of viewer to performer to visual art piece reflects the exhibit’s theme: the challenge to make your own niche in an ever-changing environment.
By the end of the five weeks, only one performer will remain, yet the art pieces will have expanded to take up nearly all white spaces. Gaudreau described this transformation as a “start in dance, end in visual art.” She also welcomes the viewer to question the threshold of the body, shifting from a performer, to a photograph, to a sculpture.
Surely, when the spotlight finds a still dancer, leaning with face up against the wall, it is easy to imagine the transformation of living person to solid sculpture, and back to dancer again as she slides across the floor.
Out of Grace will be on exhibit at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, in the LB building, from Nov. 3 to Dec. 11. Keep an eye out for our photo essay detailing the progression of the exhibit online.