From January 14th 1989 to February 5th 1989 Means of Measurement
"It is in our reading of the conflict between the various elements of the tableau that the work begins to take on a meaning. On the other hand we are witness to a sort of mystic juxtaposition of elemental objects, an effect, which in combination with the lighting, the materials, and the elaborate fabrication of the objects, creates a sense of transcendent unity which exceeds the objects and their physical representation. While on the other hand, we are also encouraged to recognize that our reading of them as elemental objects is based on our use and understanding of a common system of representation."
"Mattered World" and "Measuring Device" reflect a type of organization and perception we have, a system of ordering. These two works are part of a previous exhibition show at YYZ, Toronto in 1987 entitled "Means of Measurement".
In the present context, these two pieces, produced in 1985-86, are a counterbalance to the third piece, "The Heart is Situated in the Center of the Chest Because Conditions Are More Temperate There". Produced after completing "Means of Measurement", this piece is associated with our emotional irrational nature and through its manner of presentation displays its common object, the heart, as specimens. The title is a quote from Anatomia vivorium—Anatomia Ricardi Anglici a 13th century anatomical text.
- Press release (Optica)
Skene, Cameron, "The Measure of All Things. To conceptualism comes to the Main...", Montreal Mirror, Jan. 27-Fév. 9 1989.
From February 11th 1989 to March 5th 1989 Integrated Cities
Françoise Schein has chosen international human centres called cities as a point of departure for her speculative metaphysical maping of human, social, technological and philosophical structures that exist side by side with those in "nature". These maps both 2 and 3 dimensions integrate without prejudice visible and invisible structural systems into a provocative re-reading of "culture". Electric lights, constellations rivers, metro systems, topologies, ideologies, etc. are monads* that are all seeking their own completion in continuum.
Each individual work such as "Pekin Hydraulic Society", "Time Zone" and the most recent work completed for Montréal, "4 Hydro Boxes" and "The St. Lawrence Passageway", are plotted portraits of the overlaping man made and other nature made extensions. These have the appearance or pre-arranged harmony between them, in attempt to reflect in their grammar their full logical complexity.
- Yvonne Lammerich
* Monads: Broad, C.D. Leibniz: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press, 1975.
Françoise Schein is a Belgium artist living in New York for the last 10 years.
Gravel, Claire, « Le regard d'une Belge à New York », Le Devoir, Montréal, lundi 27 février 1989 (vol. LXXX – No 48).
Doyon, Jacques, « Françoise Schein », Parachute, oct. nov. dec. 1989, no. 56, p. 61-62.
Exposition de groupe
From March 11th 1989 to April 2nd 1989 The Zone of Conventional Practice and Other Real Stories (partie I)
"The Zone of Conventional Practice and Other Real Stories" is an exhibition (and book) of contemporary narrative photography created to recognize the activity of Canadian photo-related art in the 1980's. This decade has been significant both for art and photography as one where the boundaries between the two disciplines have begun to disintegrate. More importantly it is one very much influenced by this same conflation in communications, social, psychoanalytical, literary and aesthetic theories. "The Zone of Conventional Practice and Other Real Stories" combines the works of established and lesser known photographers, artists, and writer to contextualize this period within the common ground of narrative.
To different degrees and in different ways the work in "The Zone of Conventional Practice and Other Real Stories" are concerned with narrative in relationship to power and authority. While many of the works here examine the function and effects of narrative as it is perceived within social and psychological experience, and as it manifests itself concretely in social and cultural production, others utilize narrative forms to relate and restate stories of the human situation.
Eldon Garnet's Heavy Industry, a picture-history recounting the contest of human evolution from the primitive to the corporate, can be seen as a point of critical departure for the other works in the exhibition.
In Robert Moore's Harmon, a contemporary narrative of the continuing social and economic relationship is told through the personal history of the family snapshot album. Jamelie Hassan's The Mukharabat State or Zenobia's Wall, a scroll of photographs, diary entries, watercolours and archeological fragments, describes the human struggle for power in specific and concrete terms. "Mukharabat are the information-collection/control agents (from the arabic work Khabr, news)", encountered during the artist's visit home to the Middle East.
The authority of narrative as it occurs in the literature of science, history and popular culture and the evident male orientation of this domain, comes under investigation in the works of Nicole Jolicoeur, Susan McEachern and Nina Levitt. Injecting a footnote into the biography of Jean-Martin Charcot, Jolicoeur insists on the recognition of the presence and influence of the feminine (here, specifically Madame Charcot), in history. In the same vein, Susan McEachern's photographic project—On Living at Home—examines both historical and contemporary literature and other media from a women's perspective commenting on the impression made on the domestic sphere by the workings of the "real" world. And Nina Levitt representing popular romance book jackets as mediated "negatives", satirically addresses the conventional representation of female sexuality, in particular lesbian sexuality, in popular culture.
In a critique of the traditional linear, closed narrative form, many of the works of "The Zone of Conventional Practice and Other Real Stories" use non-conventional structures. Angela Grauerholz works with single image narratives in portfolio. Within the space of each of the individual works, the familiarity of vast generality set against the irony of obvious photographic and literal specificity creates an ambiguity that invites an infinite number of narrative possibilities. Raymonde April marrys similarly ambiguous photographs to very specific story-lines, which together create alternative interpretations. Neither story nor image dominate. No one meaning is definitive. The same effect is achieved in Cheryl Sourkes spatially developed collage works. The "story" and its meaning(s) remain open to personal interpretation. In the works of Blake Fitzpatrick and Sorel Cohen, the use of pairs of temporally and contentually disjunctive photographs speak to and of narrative perception. Absolute meaning is deferred.
The authority of any given photographic representation is the subject of Arni Haraldsson's and Sylvie Readman's projects. The influence of photographic representations is described in Michel Campeau's "Les Tremblements du coeur". When Haraldsson and Readman isolate individual elements of a single photograph the presence and importance of all the parts in the interpretation of the "original" image is exaggerated. For Readman the unpeopled photograph becomes animated and assumes monumental significance. For Haraldsson the social documentary image he has chosen is deconstructed to reveal the elements of the script of representation. For Michel Campeau the combination of images from his personal and professional archives with the imagery from the archives of "the history of photography" acknowledge the effect of photography on the construction of one's personal identity.
Even while the artists here seek a departure from convention, paradoxically the creation and reception of a narrative is dependant not only on the acknowledgment of convention, but as well on its utilization—in form or content. The title, taken from Recent Theories of Narrative by Wallace Martin: "conventional practice"—a zone lying somewhere between literature and life (between art and experience), or encompassing both—as a formative element in the genesis of narrative", refers to the conceptual and formal issues central to the works of this project and to this paradox that governs them.
The book The Zone of Conventional Practice and Other Real Stories will be published this spring.
- Cheryl Simon
Simon, Cheryl, "Cheryl Simon talks about The Zone of Conventional Practice and Other Real Stories", Views, vol. 7 no. 3, (September 1990), Published by the Toronto Photographers Workshop, p. 6 -16.
Gravel Claire, « Une photographie canadienne particulièrement riche », Le Devoir, 8 avril 1989, Montréal.
Dion, François, « Bain D'arrêt, entre la photographie et la narration, l'art s'ébat en toute liberté » Voir, 6 avril 1989.
Varty, Alex, "A Thickly Intellectual Zone", The Georgia Straight, 19 septembre 1989.
Wilkie, Bob, "Telling Pictures, Revealing Stories", Afterimage, April 1990.
Braun, Martha, "Text and Narrative in 'the Zone Catalogue' ", Views, May 1990.
Campeau, Sylvain, "The Zone of Conventional Practice", ETC, no. 19, September 1990.
Exposition de groupe
From April 8th 1989 to April 30th 1989 The Zone of Conventional Practice and Other Real Stories (partie II)
From May 6th 1989 to May 28th 1989 Travaux récents
I used to have a fantasy where I would imagine a smooth, swirling even-textured disk which would swell gradually, transforming itself into a giant, fibrous mass. I had a certain amount of control over this incarnation and could cause it to mutate back and forth between its polar extremes. To me this daydream, this constant gentle swing between the scatological and the serene represents that double bind we refer to as a nature of eroticism.
In a similar way "Bataille" conceived to the big toe as emblematic of both human baseness, following from its contiguity with mud and soil, and human loftiness, by virtus of its ability to represent the transition from the bestial. This duality figures in the relation of a downward slanting frieze of faces which hang opposite a row of giant, larva-like toes, suggesting the possibility of a meeting. Staggered across the long wall which separates toes from faces is a constellation of titled sequences. Many of these works are metaphoric invocations of a notion of eroticism somehow linken to a metaphysics of death; others suggest narratives of a suspended desire not yet rested on an object choice; all are bound with the idea of the photograph as both reminder and disavowal of loss.
- Press release (Optica)
Moyra Davey is a photographer and is living in New York."
From June 1st 1989 to June 11th 1989 Expo-encan
"A SILENT AUCTION AT OPTICA GALLERY"
Optica Gallery is pleased to announce a silent auction of works by artists who are or have been affiliated with the gallery. The participating artists are: Eva Brandl, Sorel Cohen, Yvon Cozic, Angela Grauerholz, John Heward, Lynn Huhges, Suzy Lake, Serge Tousignant, Renée van Halm and Bill Vazan.
A reception to launch this event will be held Friday, June 2nd, beginning at 5 pm and the public is invited. The works for auction will be exhibited at the Gallery from June 1 – 11, 1989. Gallery hours are 12 noon to 5 pm for the duration of the exhibition.
Proceeds from the auction will be used to support the gallery's program and special projects.
Interested people are invited to submit confidential bids at any time during the exhibition period. At the conclusion of the show, the auctioneers will notify the individuals holding successful bids. Information about the bidding procedure is available from Optica during business hours.
Michèle Lorrain, Claire Savoie
From June 17th 1989 to July 9th 1989 Peinture / Sculpture
Arising out of aspects of daily life, Michèle Lorrain pictural scenes of human characters create a sense of anxiety out of ordinariness.
These images introduce us to an intimate universe where we are faced with strange relationships: two characters placed in unsettling situations; the particular nature of the relationship uniting a character and an object, the model (subject) and the artist or even the ambiguous relationship between two characters; it is not the familiar aspects of daily life which are explored here, but its dissonances.
Moreover, the dissonance, the anxiety created by these tableaux seems to arise from the "photographic" quality of their presentation. The characters seem to be frozen in time, in a moment. The staging of the bodies occasionally draws us out of the frame to try and reconstruct the painting's "framework": context, site, situation.
- Sylvie Readman
In these open boxes, set up high on pedestals, can be glimpsed the fragments of an uncertain universe. In this corner, a furtive character appears. Over there, a fragile construction rears up into the harsh light. Claire Savoie's installation can be read like a magical and eerie tale.
"Passages d'eau" draws us into its dream world without disguising the artificiality of its construction. Islands of light reinforce the sense of a dramatic ensemble informed by an undefined ritual, while at the same time underlining the nature of the materials used in the building of these silent and frozen tableaux. The eye hesitates between reality and dreamworld, in the illusion of ever fluid "water passages".
- Thomas Corriveau
- Press release (Optica)
Caron, Nathalie, « Mort ou vif », Voir, vol. 3, no. 31, Samedi 29 juin au 5 juillet 1989.
From September 8th 1989 to October 8th 1989 Le passage, la chute, le naufrage
The following document is only available in French:
"La photographie n’est pas seulement le lieu où l’on se rappelle que notre emprise sur le réel est illusoire. Elle est aussi un moyen de rendre compte de la précarité de l’image et d’utiliser celle-ci comme proposition de réaménagement de l’espace-temps. C’est ce que Roberto Pellegrinuzzi réussit à construire par le biais d’œuvres qui simulent la stabilité et enveloppent de désirs brisés (La chute, Le passage, Le naufrage, …) le cadre photographique. En utilisant ce qu’on appelle du mobilier dans le quel il intègre la photographie, l’artiste déjoue la "loi" qui régit spécifiquement ce médium : l’attache documentaire, la référence inévitable. Certes, nul n’y échappe. Cependant, un travail à ce niveau demeure possible. Dans ce sens, l’œuvre de Roberto Pellegrinuzzi constitue précisément une "alternative" (parmi d’autres) à la pratique photographique qu’il explique en ces termes : "Malgré le caractère indiciel de la photographie, celle-ci m’apparaît pourtant en discontinuité avec ce qu’elle représente parce qu’opérant des détours et des distances".
En ce qui a trait à la structure de l’œuvre, celle-ci favorise un travail sur le support en fonction de sa capacité à "absorber" le dynamisme de l’image. Bureau, table et armoire sont dont utilisés à titre de composantes (statiques) de l’œuvre photographique : comme des supports sur lesquels on s’affaire afin d’arriver à polariser toute l’énergie de la forme, de la couleur, ou encore de la lumière. Aussi (et de cette façon) l’illusion se trouve être brisée par la présence d’objets concrets et leur impact au niveau de la perception ; parce qu’ils sont en rupture avec la fluidité de l’image. Ce qui confère à la photographie un caractère pragmatique témoignant d’une volonté de reconstruction. "Mon travail ne présente pas la photographie comme une représentation mais en questionne le réalisme". Ainsi l’artiste propose une approche relativement attentive au problème de la "périphérie". Que se passe-t-il autour de l’objectif ? Quelle place prend la photographie ? Nous document-t-elle toujours ? Et à propos de quoi le fait-elle ? Assurément, Pellegrinuzzi déborde de l’espace photographique, mais il en cautionne le cadre.
Cependant, en quoi consiste, ici précisément, l’essence photographique ? Et à quoi se rattache-t-elle dans un espace-temps ponctué de retours à un réalisme qui se concrétise dans la mise en scène d’objets symbolisant la stabilité (le meuble) ? D’une part, il semble que l’iconographie choisie, et la mise en forme du mouvement qui y est supposée prétende davantage à une réflexion sur le médium en tant qu’outil qu’à la production d’œuvres qui voudraient rendre exhaustif un questionnement sur le représente. D’autre part, l’énergie que retient la pellicule constitue le lieu où est donné le rythme de ce qu’on pourrait appeler le photographique. Pour cela, ce que nous retenons de l’œuvre de Roberto Pellegrinuzzi, c’est la part active que prend le spectateur à la définition d’un réel effectif. Et dans ces conditions, lui seul peut meubler son regard…"
- Press release (Optica)
Dion, François, « Bonjour les Arts visuels », Voir, 24 au 30 août 1989.
Gravel, Claire, « Le Mois de la photo: Les trafiquants d'images ont aussi leur place », Cahier, mercredi 27 septembre 1987.
From October 14th 1989 to November 12th 1989 Le bestiaire
The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. How is it that solely by gathering in of electromagnetic beams we have come this far in comprehending the Universe?
- Albert Einstein
Wilmar Koenig has taken his camera and recorded particular existing ambient light situations and in the process revealed to us a multitude of layered messages.
The slight trembling of the hand held camera and the framing of already restraint spaces is the setting for a survey on the relationship man has chosen to have with the animal kingdom. Their statistical portraits whether stuffed or caged are not comfortable images in the presence of social consciousness.
Light confronts us here as one of lifes great illusions as it animates the glass eyes of some of these animals. One becomes movingly aware that the re-constructed configurations of the material of skin and stuffing give us a further superficial reading of the animal’s character of internal reality.
Whether it is the monkey swinging from a brittle dried branch through colourless air or the alive wing clipped marabou that appears to be placed to the ground, the message is the same: Western Man has an admirable ability to keep all of nature at arms length.
Each of the eleven photographs suspended occupies space in three dimensions. These are not post-modernist windows to the world, but silent memorials that have even been deprived of the ancient Egyptians ritual of embalming for the purpose of preserving the animals’ spirit.
Their silence sends us back to our conscience revealing more about our nature than theirs.
Even the privileged cat in Edward Hopper’s Night Café style stares into space. But at least the metal grids or metaphoric cages protect us a little from the truth about our self that explodes from these images.
- Yvonne Lammerich, October 1989
- Press release (Optica)
Wilmar Koenig works and lives in Berlin and has exhibited in both Europe and North America.
Auteur inconnu, « Koenig/ La beauté empaillée », ETC, hiver 1989, no. 10, p. 30-31.
Gravel, Claire, « Les pièges de la modernité », Le Devoir, samedi 28 octobre 1989. C-11.
From November 18th 1989 to December 18th 1989 Dayal
light – matter – pattern
There are moment when I am only aware of the sound of the world in rotation: our silence.
At such times collective beingness rises above the weight of individual ambition and begins to recognize light, matter and their inherent patterns as its guide through the culture it inherits and that of which it is a part at present.
With this consciousness I build walls that are searching for alternative parameters within which our being can re-discover itself, in the union of light and matter, at each new moment.
I think not only of colour but of the more encompassing idea of light. I think not only of paint but of its materiality as matter. I think not only of structure but of its origin in pattern.
- Yvonne Lammerich, November 1989, Dayal: compassion.
- Press release (Optica)
Gravel, Claire, « Gnass, Guimont, Lammerich: poésie et théorie des quanta », Le Devoir, samedi 9 décembre 1989. C-11.