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Challenging our here and now

by Chloё Lalonde August 28, 2018
Challenging our here and now

Discover the ebb and flow of the everyday reflected in Resonance

Resonance dove into the depths of its artists’ identities so profoundly, it encouraged further exploration. Being Concordia’s Visual Arts Visuels (VAV) gallery’s last summer show, ending Aug. 17, the exhibition showcased the work of 10 student artists including Carlo Polidoro Lopez, Dexter Barker-Glenn, Tina Lê and The Concordian’s own Mackenzie Lad.  

A highlight of the exhibition was a speaker event, Voiceless Utterance, presented by artist and researcher-in-resident Chelsy Monie of Concordia’s Ethnocultural Art Histories Research (EAHR) group. Monie brought together four contemporary African artists and curators to speak about their work in ways Western institutions neglect to.

EAHR’s research residency, Diversifying Academia, was established last year by Kim Glassman in collaboration with the Concordia Library. The residency gave Monie a chance to bring her research and photographs to life by exploring how African art is placed in Euro-American institutions as an object of consumption rather than for critical engagement.

The visual segment of Voiceless Utterance, which is comprised of nude, intimate photographs of several women of colour, is now installed on the second floor of the EV building in the vitrine display where it will remain for a few months.

The gallery was filled with listeners during Chelsy Monie’s presentation of Voiceless Utterance. Photo courtesy of VAV Gallery.

“While both the visual series and speaker event can live without the other,” Monie explained,  “together they are able to pinpoint the problem with many institutions today and provide a solution as well as a new way to engage with the works of African artists.”

Polidoro Lopez’s installation, En Limbo, expresses his feeling of duality between life in Ecuador and in Canada. The installation of found objects, fabric scraps and papers is based on conversations the artist had with those who experience similar dualities.

There are many stories embedded in the final product. Polidoro Lopez describes his studio as a personal interaction with the viewer. Working the way he does, spread out over a lot of space, the process he uses allows him to create life.

Barker-Glenn’s work shares similar themes, namely exploring his identity as a male artist and relating his art-making to the birthing process.

“At the time of its creation, I recognized that I strive to create objects that have a life of their own and that many of my art-making practices mirror elements in nature,” Barker-Glenn said.

Figure 1. (Icarus) is an installation inspired by the myth of Icarus, the story of a man whose father makes him a pair of wings. According to the story, Icarus flies too close to the sun, and the wax holding his wings together melts. Icarus falls into the ocean and drowns. It is a tale of aspiring to do impossible things, an idea that resonates throughout Barker-Glenn’s installation.

Barker-Glenn describes his piece as a “cabinet of curiosities.” Footage of birds, molds of eggs as well as fabric bird heads and wings are found throughout. Nestled in the centre of the structure, a bird mask sits, representing both the artist’s interest in the creation of life and his imitation of it.

“I see the mask in the centre of this piece as an attempt to become what you are not, and it too is in a process of destruction,” the artist explained. The mask, made from cheesecloth and hardened with sugar, is dipped in black ink, which is slowly absorbed by the fabric, blackening its surface and destroying its structure.

Lines Turn into Time is one of two of Lê’s recent explorations with textile that have been exhibited at Resonance. Lê usually favours performance art, but found that the wear and tear of fabric better encompassed her goal with these two works.

Fabric allows for a multifaceted inquiry,” Lê said, because they are “rife with cultural, religious or even personal significance.”

 

Her pieces touch upon themes of gender, mental illness, whiteness, [de]colonisation, power and violence reflected in the artist’s personal experience and inspired by Lois Martin’s article in the Surface Design Journal titled “The Direction of Cloth: the Horizontal Dimension” and Kathleen Connellan’s article in Textile, “White, the Colour of Whispers: Revealing and Concealing Cloth.” Martin is a fashion design professor at the Art Institute of New York City, and is concerned with how fabric can transform spaces from mundane to ceremonial. Connellan is a professor at the School of Art, Architecture and Design at the University of South Australia, whose studies focus on critical race studies in design.

Lines Turn into Time framed Tina Lê’s second installation, Lucid not Dreaming.
Photo courtesy of VAV Gallery.

Lê scribbled her most private thoughts and feelings onto sheets of bleached white cotton using Batik, a resist-dye technique, and tore them into strips to make Lines Turn into Time. Her text, now hidden by both the dying and tearing process, remains internalised.

The strips, representing her thoughts and feelings, “overlap with one another, intersecting and blurring each other out, often finding ways to revisit under various forms of (micro)aggressions whether simultaneously and/or intermittently,” Lê added.

The VAV Gallery holds exhibitions every three weeks and will be accepting submissions for their fall programming until Sept. 14, including work for their special Black History Month in November exhibition. All submitting artists must be enrolled in at least one fine arts course during the 2018-19 academic year. More information can be found on their website: vavgallery.concordia.ca.

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