April 12, 2013 § Leave a comment
The graduating class of University of Toronto’s Visual Studies program holds a group exhibition each year. This year’s exhibition titled Afterword, seeks to express twenty unique perspectives that have been molded over the course of the three to four years in the Visual Studies Program. The goal of the show is to portray the heterogeneous nature of the program in a unified and collected manner. As a participant in the upcoming show, I had the opportunity to interview a few of the artists involved, to give a better understanding of the variety of works that will be displayed in Afterword.
Regina Efendieva is one of 20 students involved in the planning and execution of the show. As for every student in the graduating class, the show will feature art that has been created by Regina throughout the course of the past two semesters. Regina’s work deals with the way in which slight alterations can transform something beautiful into something grotesque. Through her drawings, she strives to find points of tension in the way we view the body.
EB: Regina, many of your drawings and paintings feature malevolent themes and specifically mutated females. Can you describe the inspiration for this reoccurring content in your work?
RE: I deal with the female shape because it is more familiar to me as a woman, and also because I have an aesthetic appreciation for the prettiness of the feminine shape. In my art I like to focus on the way in which the human body can be modified, taken apart and put back together, or mixed with elements that are foreign to it. Because of these changes, my work takes on a dark tone, since the end result almost always looks mutated, or uncomfortable. For me, inspiration comes from the pretty universal desire of changing one’s own physical shape. In my daily life I am tempted to alter aspects of myself, and I think this same drive is what pushes me to focus on morphing the female shape in my art.
EB: Can you talk about your experience as part of the Thesis class?
RE: The thesis class has been extremely beneficial because it has forced me to understand all that needs to come together in order to create an art show. Up to this point, all I’ve thought about when it comes to galleries and exhibitions is the work and the curating process. By being a part of the Thesis class, I now understand all the other elements that make the whole show come together.
Student artist, Stu Monck is the curator of Afterword and has been working painstakingly to prepare the spaces for the upcoming show. Stu’s work focuses on engagements with visual culture and materiality. His primary mediums are photography, video, and installation and his work investigates the possibilities of media and process.
EB: Stu, I have had many classes with you and I have noticed that much of your work, especially your video installation, has an ambient and almost hypnotic quality. Are you trying to mesmerize your audience?
SM: You’re right. Looking back over my work from the past few years, there is a kind of hypnotic nature. Enveloping the audience is something I think through with every project, whether time-based or otherwise. For the viewer to slow down and engage with an artwork, to experience it, is very important to me. In fact, I feel my work is poor without this experience, and has little personal importance without it.
EB: You are curating Afterword. Will this be the first show that you have curated? How has the experience been for you?
SM: I have curated before, but not on this scale. Grouping the works of twenty young artists, with varying ability and aesthetic, has been a frustrating and fascinating process. Working with each artist, finding affinity between the works, and finally seeing the show come into being has been an exceptional experience.
Finally, Polina Teif, who exhibits in Toronto primarily as a member of XXXX Collective will be installing a variety of photographs at Afterword. Polina explores images, which are clearly constructed. She challenges herself to use only the most essential means necessary to convey ideas through photographs. Her photographs of these contemporary cultural artifacts are used as tools to investigate societal issues.
EB: Polina, What is your process of finding the specific items that you choose to photograph and study?
PT: I try to find mass produced manufactured products readily available in the consumer market. I am interested in exploring the underlying economic and cultural conditions that allow us to see these items as common and everyday. I try to select items most people use and carry in their households but do not give them much thought beyond their inherent function.
EB: You are a practicing artist with XXXX collective. How has your experience with the Thesis class been different from working with the collective?
PT: Working with 3 other individuals in XXXX Collective is different than working with 17 artists simply due to the number of people involved. With thesis we share the workload while with the collective we all bear more responsibilities each. Thesis is a collective of students who wanted to sign up for that course. Xxxx is brought together by a shared aesthetic and thus it is easier to make a cohesive show centered around a single theme, something which is impossible to do in thesis, apples and oranges. Both are tasty but they are hard to compare.
To find out more about XXXX Collective, visit the groups website at xxxxcollective.com
Afterword’s Opening Reception will take place on Friday April 19th from 7 – 10 pm and is located at 563 Spadina Crescent, Toronto in the North Borden Building. The show will also be open to the public from April 20th – 21st from 11am – 5pm.
For more information about Afterword and the artists involved, visit afterworduoft.com or follow Afterword on Twitter: @Afterword2013