Experience your senses All at Once – literally

Exhibit at VAV Gallery implores viewers to contemplate the sensory possibilities of the human body

Most of us go through life seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling the world around us. But how often do we get to step into a spacious white room where we are asked to experience these senses all at once? Right about now.

All at Once is the current exhibit on display at the VAV Gallery, located in Concordia’s Visual Arts Building on the corner of Crescent St. and René Lévesque Blvd. W. The exhibit features the works of artists Bianca Hlywa, Paul Lofeodo, Jade Seguela, Steven Smith Simard, Julie Tremblay and Jacynthe Cloutier.

Photo by Amanda Macri

The first thing you notice about the exhibit is the silence. Every step, every shift, every sway is echoed and amplified in the minimalist space. Viewers become hyper-aware of their own inhaling and exhaling, and time seems to slow down as a consequence. Footsteps sedate as visitors carefully make their way to the artworks that line the blank walls and those which hang from the bare ceiling. An artwork that captures sight and sound simultaneously is “L’autre” by Jacynthe Cloutier. Here, identical molds of faces and ears are suspended from the ceiling above and strung down on the walls in an imposing way.

The sense of touch manifests itself both physically and emotionally in the exhibit. Emotionally, there is “The Process of Talking to Yourself” by Jade Seguela, which conveys the internal struggle one faces when contemplating overdose; “112 jours/ 112 days” by Steven Smith Simard, which captures a sense of loss and loneliness over a significant amount of time; and “Will and Representation” by Paul Lofeodo, which questions the unrealistic physical expectations of the human body by combining man and mannequin. Physically, there is “Tribute to the Body” by Julie Tremblay. Here, viewers are encouraged to write down their favourite body part using the small sheets of paper and pencils provided and submit their selection into a ballot box.

Up to this point, viewers have experienced sight, sound and touch. However, there seem to be two senses missing, and weren’t you promised to experience them all at once? The final installation does not disappoint. “Plastic Bags from Jerusalem” by Bianca Hlywa is a fully interactive piece. Viewers are asked to remove their shoes prior to entering an intimidating structure made entirely of white painted cardboard. Sight. The bottoms of your feet tense as you walk over a prickly welcome mat. Touch. Once inside, a sign reads “knock for cake” and you do. Sound. A small hatch opens and upon completing a series of instructions, which include putting a plastic bag over your head, a slice of cake is handed to you. Smell. What follows is inevitable. Taste.

All at Once will be featured at the VAV Gallery until Sept. 26. For more information, visit vavgallery.concordia.ca

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