December 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
We have all experienced those moments where we stare at the clock and time seems to drag on and on and on… but have you ever found yourself enjoying it? Christian Marclay’s 24-hour ‘movie’ The Clock certainly had me mesmerized with each passing second.
Comprised of thousands of film and television clips, The Clock is a 24-hour video collage that examines how time, plot and duration are depicted in cinema. Marclay and his team meticulously weave together fragments of various stories to create a shattered narrative held together by the continuous flow of time. While each scene may originally be unrelated to the next or the one before, Marclay masterfully overlays and splices video and audio clips to create a loosely continuous narrative ushered along by the passing of time. The audience is bombarded with various storylines and we try to make sense of it all together until we finally realize that it is impossible because the ‘story’ isn’t about specific characters or events. While the pieces seem to build up something, we are never truly granted a climax or conclusion; scenes are never allowed to run long enough to develop into anything more than a passing moment. This is a representation of human life through a much larger scope than what we are accustomed to; we see life through various eyes driven by time rather than through the eyes of one protagonist, driven by plot.
The time in the video is synchronized with real time, making each viewer painfully aware of each minute as shots of clocks, watches, sundials and other time-telling devices grace the screen every minute or two (and even when there is no time displayed on the screen, you’ll find yourself checking your watch or cell phone to make sure it’s still on track). This connection with the real world only adds another layer to this remarkable work about life within time.
It is a strange experience – movies usually provide an escape from the real world and we often lose track of time as we immerse ourselves in the stories we are told, yet The Clock does quite the opposite! While still captivated by each unfolding scene (some sneakily spliced together to create a more continuous flow in the grand scheme of the work), you are constantly aware of the real world as you check the time and take a look around to see if the people sitting around you have left yet (as viewers are free to come and go as they please within gallery hours or during special 24-hour viewing periods).
The ‘narrative’ of The Clock evokes themes and atmospheres associated with each particular time – the lazy mornings after sleeping in until 11am, the hustle and bustle of the 5pm rush hour, or even the build up during the last few minutes before the hour turns. It is a testament to how much time affects our daily lives, yet we rarely realize it. We begin to notice what time means to us; we become aware of the tension and release that follows the ebb and flow of time. The Clock really is a stunning masterpiece in its intricate detailing and magnificent editing (three years in the making!).
Christian Marclay’s The Clock is playing at The Power Plant until November 25. The gallery operates on normal business hours during the week but will be open for a special extended viewing period during The Clock’s closing weekend (from 10am on November 23 to 5pm on November 25) so make sure to check it out! Will you be able to watch the work in its entirety?
For more info, please visit http://www.thepowerplant.org/Exhibitions/2012/2012_Fall/The-Clock.aspx.
December 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
The University of Toronto Art Centre and Blackwood Gallery at the University of Toronto Mississauga co-present SPLICE: At the Intersection of Art and Medicine, a show that brings together works that explore ideas and representations of the human body from both artistic and scientific perspectives. This exhibit reminds us that disciplines and ideas that we normally separate need not be segregated from one another – they may actually be interdependent.
The exhibit showcases traditional anatomical illustrations that we often expect to see in textbooks or in doctors’ offices, but rarely under spotlights on the walls of a gallery. Curator Nina Czegledy brings to light these beautiful and masterfully rendered diagrams that not only required a thorough scientific understanding of the body to create, but also vast artistic skill. We often dismiss these works as mere educational diagrams and underestimate the time, talent and effort that went into their creation (especially when technological advances have provided us with the ability to render almost anything we desire with unimaginable accuracy). It is only under the context of a gallery setting that we as an audience come to realize and appreciate all the blood, sweat and tears that produced these meticulously detailed works; they deserve a closer look and a deeper appreciation for their fine craftsmanship.
SPLICE also touches on the history of Biomedical Communications (formerly the Department of Medical Art Service) at the University of Toronto, highlighting and recognizing the work of a group of women that were vital to the development of the program, as well as the creation of the first anatomical atlas produced and published in North America (initiated by Dr. J.C.B. Grant of the University of Toronto in 1941). Maria Wishart, Eila Hopper-Ross, Nancy Joy, Dorothy Foster Chubb, Elizabeth Blackstock and Marguerite Drummond were rarely credited in the various editions of Grant’s Atlas (which is still in print today). Yet together, they created works that represent an important legacy in the field.
Contemporary artworks are also featured in SPLICE, creating a complementary yet challenging dialogue with the traditionally formal illustrations. In these works, the body takes on immensely different meanings. As Czegledy notes in her introductory essay “The Body Revealed” in the brochure accompanying the exhibit, “Today the body is frequently politicized, symbolized, and even digitized in order to manipulate, to dissect and provoke.” Artists such as Orshi Drozdik, Catherine Richards, Piotr Wyrzkowski, Diana Burgoyne and many others push the body beyond the boundaries of medicine into various other territories where it takes on boundless connotations and associations. These works invite the viewer to think about what the body has become to us; they challenge us to re-evaluate preconceived notions and encourage us to think about the body in ways we have never considered.
SPLICE: At the Intersection of Art and Science runs until December 1, 2012. Go interact with a glass heart, find out what the mind is and appreciate some amazing artwork! Make sure to check out the SPLICE exhibit at the Blackwood Gallery of UTM as well, also running until December 1.
Left: Dorothy Foster Chubb, Head (Detail), carbon dust, 1942-1945.
November 7, 2012 § Leave a comment
Toronto-based artist Evan Penny has been creating works for over twenty-five years, but only in the last decade has he really been pushing the boundaries of his own practice. The touring exhibition Re Figured, currently on display on the fourth floor of the Art Gallery of Ontario, is an examination of the various issues Penny explores through his creations.
The decision to include one early work, a less than life size nude male sculpture entitled Jim (1985) offers a point of reference for the viewers. Jim demonstrates that Penny has been focusing on the human body since the 1980s, and particularly issues related to the representation of the human body in the media, and also our perception of the body in three-dimensional space. Jim Revisited (2011) is also included in the exhibition as a means of examining the advancement of Penny’s practice since the 1980s. It is also relevant because of its play on perception – it is distorted in a way that forces the observers to question the viewpoint or angle from which they are observing the work.
Re Figured consists of two large open spaces, as well as five smaller rooms. Four of the smaller rooms contain works from various series, such as Backs (2004-2008), No One – In Particular Series 1 (2001-2005) and Series 2 (2004-2007), and Old Self, Young Self (2010-2011). The fifth room is dedicated solely to the step-by-step process of the way Penny creates his silicone casts. There are posters in this room, a video, and samples of the materials he uses so patrons in the gallery can directly experience the way his sculptures might feel, without actually touching the finished products themselves. The artist is clearly interested in process and progress.
Upon entering the gallery, visitors are confronted by Penny’s Stretch #1(2003) one of his silicone casts. While the skin looks extremely real, enough to make the viewer think that touching it would evoke the touch of human skin, the features of the abnormally large face are not proportionate. This is one way the artist articulates his thoughts on the influence of media and the way that the images we see affect the way we perceive ourselves. Penny is also referencing manipulations that can be made in programs such as Photoshop, and what would happen if such two-dimensional forms were projected into three-dimensional space.
It is interesting that related works are placed across from one another, and not beside each other. This underscores Penny’s intentions. The artist is constantly juxtaposing two separate ideas or concepts to demonstrate the way in which they influence or relate to one another. Ultimately the artist is interested in blurring the boundary between abstraction and figuration. By placing related works on opposite walls, a conversation is literally created in the physical space that separates the artworks.
People of all ages can relate to the issues that Penny’s work addresses because of the prevelance of our interaction with media in this day and age.
Re-figured, organized by the Kunsthalle, Tübingen, Germany in association with the Art Gallery of Ontario runs through January 6th, 2013 at the AGO.
November 7, 2012 § 1 Comment
On the evening of September 29, Toronto hosted its Annual Nuit Blanche art festival. On this occasion, the University of Toronto Art Centre showcased the installation Crave Crawl Cave by artists Claro Cosco, Piffin Duvekot and Grey Muldoon. The all-night exhibit of this interactive art installation consisted of three geodesic tent-like pods connected by tunnels. The circular pods were about a meter in height and the low, narrow tunnels allowed the audience to crawl from one pod to another.
As visitors arrived at the Art Centre, they were encouraged to remove their shoes and enter the pods in order to experience the environment inside. Live music added to the intensity of the experience. The three pods each had a distinct theme. The pod closest to the entrance contained numerous smooth, glowing rubber balls. The middle pod was entirely dedicated to furry objects, be it the rug on the floor, the stuffed toys, or the pieces of materials hung on the ceiling of the pod. The third pod had web like nets hanging from the ceiling and was lit by UV lights which reflected off the painted floor and added an eerie effect.
Duvekot informed me that while coming up with this project, the artists looked at Snoezel rooms in the Netherlands, as well as research done on autism spectrum disorders. Through this installation, the artists tried to create a space that would stimulate the senses. They were successful in achieving their goal because not only did we get to see the art installations but we also got the opportunity to feel different kinds of textures inside the pods. Our senses were further stimulated by the improvised music being played by the musicians. In fact, the electric violin created quite a dramatic atmosphere.
Crave Crawl Cave has been previously exhibited at the Monster festival, as well as at the Milton Centre for the Arts. Didn’t get the chance to crawl through the caves during Nuit Blanche or still craving for more? Come see, hear, smell and feel the exhibition which stays at UTAC until the 6th of October.
August 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
Focusing largely on the Canadian National Ballet’s past productions of The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake, the Design Exchange’s, 60 Years of Designing the Ballet, is a must-see for theatre and dance lovers alike. With only one full weekend left to catch the exhibition, which displays costumes, set items and sketches from six decades of Canadian ballet tradition; time is running thin. However, 60 Years of Designing the Ballet is certainly worth the trip as it more than delivers on its promise to provide a comprehensive look into the National Ballet’s backstage story and design process. Through combining the three-dimensional facets of the stage (i.e. sets, costumes and maquettes) with typical gallery elements, some of which include, video footage, photographs and an interactive station that teaches you standard dance poses, 60 Years of Designing the Ballet aptly documents the humble beginnings of the National Ballet company as well as its critically acclaimed performances of today. While Caroline O’Brien, the curator of the exhibit, did place her focus on commissioning archived costume pieces, she did also make sure that 60 Years of Designing the Ballet was in part dedicated to the art form’s laborious and intricate design production processes. In this vein, the inclusion of ballet “bibles”, a vital stage document that is filled with sketches, scale drawings, inspirations and fabric swatches, offered up a fascinating look into the grueling process of putting on a show, rather than solely the glamorous end product. 60 Years of Designing the Ballet is also paired with a smaller retrospective and community-outreach venture, The Tutu Project.
60 Years of Designing the Ballet run until September 2.
July 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
One of the AGO’s current special exhibitions features the work of Zhang Huan, a Chinese artist based out of Shanghai and New York, who is mainly known for performance and body oriented work. While most of the AGO’s focus this summer has been marketing it’s massive Picasso retrospective, Zhang Huan: Ash Paintings and Memory Doors, is a lesser-known gem that traces the very specific art process of Zhang Huan. After completing his studies in America and returning to his native China, Huan reformed his Buddhist beliefs, in turn becoming fixated on the aesthetic potential of burned incense ash. Similar to the act of burning incense in Buddhist services, Huan’s assemblage of large quantities of ash also became a rather ceremonialized practice. On a weekly basis, city trucks would deliver the temples’ ashes to Huan, who would then painstakingly sort through the specimen, dividing it according to gradation and texture, eventually applying the pigments to a linen canvas. In this sense, Huan’s utilization of a quasi-religious, creative ritual, aims to uncover the meeting point wherein which spiritual and corporeal cognitions meld.