Patricia Shiplett “Break On Through to the Other Side” at Snelgrove

Patricia Shiplett, or Patty, has a very nice installation-exhibition in the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery until the end of the week. This is a show that you need to spend some time in, absorbing and reflecting on what is going on. It’s place to meditate and reflect on your reality, mortality, what might lie beyond. It is a quiet journey about one’s existence. There’s a delicate balance that this exhibit walks; teetering between elements of psychedelia (through various uses of lights/lasers) while also grounding you and connecting you to memory and self reflection. There’s hints of phantom mysticism and I found myself searching for something deeper than average reality. Lights appear like spirits. Many of Patty’s projections have moments of beauty, that you want to grasp on to but they quickly fade away. Maybe it’s something to be said about the impermanence of life.
Everything someday will go away.
But were they ever there? What is the basis of our reality, is it really real.
One projector cycles through the lit words “are you really sure you really are”

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The largest sculpture in the exhibition is in the center of the room as you walk in. A few bundles of branches that are wrapped in a way that feels like a funeral rite. Then surrounding these bundles are lit tubes containing sapling plants. Accompanying the ground sculpture is a wall projection that shifts between light clusters resembling cell division and Patty’s own archival footage of domestic scenes or something resembling old biology films. That’s the thing with this whole exhibition. There is a vague familiarity with a lot of elements but you are never completely sure. Which brings you back to that phrase ..are you really sure you really are? Back to the sculpture, Bring your own meaning to it, I felt like I was witnessing the life cycle. Old plant life, with new plant life, and the projection being the non-physical; memory and consciousness.

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To the side of the entrance is a long sheet of plexiglass with thousands of spiked glass shards poking through, the whole thing is back-lit by a red LED. The lighting effect made a line with a large round shape above it. The circular shape is a good focal point but it’s nice to explore the peripheries of this piece seeing the light and shadow play as its shines through this complex surface. The shape of the red circle with the line made me think of a persons silhouette maybe a Buddha, but another person I spoke to saw a horizon with a sun.

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On another wall is bands of color on a wall. When inspecting this more you realize that each band of color is actually a distorted video feed. There’s moments during these bands videos that their colors and pattern have a beautiful harmony together, but just as you realize it, it changes. You do this a lot with her exhibit. Finding a moment and it disappears. Makes you want to watch through it again to see that moment. Patty told me that they were streams of consciousness. Which makes sense, people’s lives are sometimes in tune with each others then they keep moving. Whatever it is, I like it.

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Here we have cut portions of Emerson Poetry, plants, and a photo of a man and a skull.
A collection of thoughts, an example of life, light, and the physical body.
-I liked the reflection of the lights inside the box. Like phantoms of something existing somewhere else.

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Here’s another projection. A figure appears and disappears into the background, fuzzed up, sometimes looking like a blob more than a human. Looks like a moving abstract painting. The figure in dark blue amid a blue background with the hint of a warm inviting light behind the figure. There’s something nice about it.

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Beside that projection is a light box photo with a shifting laser pyramid. The light box photo is a person behind a screen with hands and chest close to the screen. It reminded me though of the face of a fetus in that strange development phase when fetus of humans, sharks, bats, dolphins all look the same,

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My favorite film is on the north east wall. There’s two sections of this film that I really enjoyed. One moment there are globes of light traveling across with an ambiguous structure that might be double exposed. But eventually it clarifies to a bus seat and the reflections of the city traveling by.

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At another point in the film is a beautiful wall of color that has slight variations and shifts throughout it, as it slowly moves into another color. It didn’t seem like a computer made color, because it feels like there is more substance and depth to it and knowing Patty’s tendency of collecting odd bits of interesting things she films over the last four years it was probably more.I asked Patty about it and she told me that she shot this scene into a pool of water that was under-lit.

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Patty’s has a few of these slow pulsing lights that she calls portals. They fade and shift through different colors. Once again it had me staring into light trying to find the best color combinations but was also good to imagine nothing else existing but this globe of light. If it was a portal, would you enter?

Particia Shiplett’s show is really worth seeing. There’s a lot of interesting work that she brings the viewer into exploring with her. I mentioned a few things but there is a lot more. A big factor in the success of this exhibition is mood inside the gallery. With blacked out windows you don’t know what to expect. Entering in you see lights, lasers, strange sculptures and many projections but the music sets the tone. The exhibit is paired perfectly with a soundtrack composed by her son Alex Stooshinoff (aka Living Room).

The music is integral to gallery experience, Alex’s music slows you down, calms you, and grounds you. It’s beautifully rhythmic seemingly in tune with your breath that aids the gallery guest to begin the process of introspection that Patty’s work calls for. Like Patty’s practice of collecting film, Alex pairs his melodies with samples of sounds that he’s recorded through a pilgrimage in Spain. The soundtrack brings life, memory and comfort to what could sometimes be a strange exhibit.

While exploring death, this show also explores life, meaning of existence and memory.
If you want to take a quiet journey and explore something different than your usual gallery. I suggest you take in Patty’s show while you have the chance.

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Robert Taite’s Interior Latex Eggshell at AKA Gallery

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Something a bit different happened this weekend, there was a closing reception talk for Robert Taite’s Interior Latex Eggshell at AKA Gallery that was led by Levi Nicholat (of Art Placement Gallery). I was excited about the premise of inviting another gallery in the community to respond to a show at AKA. Especially someone from Art Placement Gallery, that has a rich tradition of Canadian Abstraction and Minimalism. Though I ended up feeling a bit disappointed with the talk, it was a great way to revisit Interior Latex Eggshell while engaging with members of the art community. I hope that something like this happens again.

While there was some critical discussion of Robert Taite’s installation, I really enjoyed it.

With Interior Latex Eggshell, Robert Taite seems to be having fun playing a bit of an antagonist. First of all, he’s turning minimalism on it’s head. Most minimalism is lacking personality, composed of shapes in the frame. Robert Taites work breathes some life into the genre by breaking from the frame and creating sculptural paintings that play with material, balance and color. He’s made custom geometric canvases and replacing the painted object with an actual painted object. These objects are organic blobs, goops and turds made of wood that rest and hang by balance and gravity on his canvas frames. The wooden blobs are shaped in a dynamic way that might suggest a life to them but the way they rest seems like someone has pressed pause, nostalgic of an 80’s Nintendo Game

I love Robert Taites use of colour. While a lot of minimalism is a conversation with bold colours, Taite chose to use muted tones of interior latex mis-tints. Using boring mundane home interior colours, the gallery looks a bit odd. Is it a hybrid of homestaging and gallery installation? There’s a prosaic dullness to it with the exception to the colored globs and framed highlights.

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While the gallery does feel like there is a medicated pause, there is some elements of life that Taite has included in his installation. The gallery flows like a oval with focal points holding down each end. At the main entrance there’s a feature wall where numerous sculpture-paintings are hung salon style then at the other end there’s an area that contains sound coming from art crate shipping containers. The sound is close to inaudible, especially when there’s other people in the gallery. But it does bring some life into the gallery. It sounds like some rhythmic white noise but I guess there is a story behind the content which escaped me. Connecting the two ends Taite uses a series of long and short rectangular canvases that follow a zig-zagging path along the interior of the gallery negotiating corners, windows, door frames, fire exit signs etc.

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^the only object in the gallery without a flawless paint job: art crates emitting noise
–*see the rectangular canvas road following through

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^Robert Taite playing with framing and the standard squared pictorial frame

Interior Latex Eggshell ‘s run at AKA gallery is over, but make sure to keep an eye out for Robert Taite’s work in the future.

 

-David

 

Samantha Braun, Lesley Kerpan, Rhea Lonsdale and Laurissa Nagel at the Snelgorve

This week the Snelgrove Gallery is packed showing 4 BFA students’ exhibitions!

We’ll start with Samantha Braun’s show “Facade”

I don’t know if this is a regular thing that people do but me and my partner go for walks in desirable neighborhoods and talk about houses. We look at them as if they have a personality. It’s like people watching. Some are cozy and cute, others serious, some are bland, others are whacky. We revel in roofs and eaves-troughs, windows and porches, accents and foliage. Samantha must do this too, because she sees her houses as personalities.

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For her show, Samantha has painted a series of small house portraits combined with a wall mounted sculpture of the front of a house. Samantha hints at her subject matter with her title. Facade is not only the word for the front of a house but also how people can put on an act, or appearance. Samantha’s show is both of these meanings. The facade of a house is also like a mask – it’s an appearance to the public, a communication that people respond. In a way when we paint a portrait of a person they are putting on a facade. Is their facial expression/ pose of friendly, elegant, melancholic? When I look at Samantha’s house paintings I think about what kind of person they are, but also who would own the house -because houses can be like dogs, reflecting their owners.

Samantha paints freely and expressively despite their small size. By the most part they are colorful characters with group of seven-esque foliage accents. I particularly enjoy the mix of paint application. Some of her painting is thick and sloppy, sometimes precise, and in some joyful instances so thin that you can see the contrasting under-painting.

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Nest up is Lesley Kerpan’s “Slight Alterations”

Lesley Kerpan is interested in architecture and abstraction. For her multimedia show Lesley takes local and international architectural and slightly alters them to create a reimagined place. Lesley’s show is dominated by three large primary colour paintings. These are her most abstract, as she hints at the buildings architectural features with vague suggestive mark making. The buildings seem to have been once there but washed away from the colored surface, all that is left is memory, dust, and shadows.

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Lesley also has some interesting small works in between her larger paintings. At first appearance they seem to be video stills set into a deep frame. Looking at these local photos you realize peculiarly that inside each there is something moving inside while the rest remains still. Something about this felt ghostlike and creepy.

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Finally Lesley has a few digital paintings that appear velvety. Both are of local places re-imagined and distorted. I liked her choice to do these in black and white, because they had me contemplating memory and losing/distorting memories with time. Leslie created a neat 3D effect by cutting out areas of these and placing them behind or in front of the rest of the picture plane that is best appreciated in person.

Next up is Laurissa Nagel’s show “Men at Work”

Laurissa is a female artist that likes to paint/draw men. In her show, “Men at Work” she analyzes male roles. Laurissa grew up in a small town and since arriving in Saskatoon was shocked at her changing perception of masculinity. Her previous town being a traditional homogenized community of the archetypal man to living in Saskatoon encountering metro-sexuals, stay at home dads, and gay communities. Laurissa’s work looks at a variety of male roles using black and white printmaking that appear to look like charcoal drawings.

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Finally, Rhea Lonsdale’s installation “Collator”

I really love Rhea’s installation. She has a intricate paper cuts that remind me of Ben Hettinga or Ed Pien combined with Jennifer Steinkamp but with an element of interaction. Let me explain: the wall of her paper cut mandala is back projected that is responding to movement inside her space. She has a cleverly hidden webcam that with her programming changes the projection/pattern behind the paper-cut screen depending on activity.

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The mandala is beautiful and mesmerizing as you stare into it and it shifts kaleidoscopically with you. To either sides of her  installation room are screens with paper-cuts over top of them. The screens are distorted enough that they are familiar yet not exactly sure what is going on. It’s beauty amidst technology. The roof is also nice. She has what seems to be a massive tarp with cuts out of it.

Rhea’s work reminds me of something mystical crossed with technological with elements of psychedelia. I often get easily fatigued when looking at new media video/computer works, yet hers has a delicacy that is lovely. It’s a nice little quiet space inside the Snelgrove that you appreciate greater with the more you interact with the space. I only wish it was more and bigger.

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Memorsion at Paved Arts *Upstairs!

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Have you ever had a dream that you were inside of a television.. and the TV was playing Blade Runner?

That’s how I felt as I explored the new video installation “Memorsion” by Manuel Chantre at Paved Arts Center. It’s like a strange techno dream that you are trying to sort out what is reality, what is virtual and what is memory. Chantre chose images that feels like a grimy industrial future.Empty of inhabitants his images explore something lost but still there: weathered concrete overpasses, abandoned office buildings, empty doorways, littered alleys and dirty graffiti. Most of the video and imagery has disfiguring shadows, light strobing and filtered effects so that you are trying piece together what you are actually seeing. It’s predominantly in black and white, but there’s an occasional blast of colour that shocks you. There’s also occasional close up images of people performing daily rituals of washing their faces and brushing their hair. For me, seeing people in the video created a more enriching inner narrative as I put these places into a human-relation context.

During the artist talk, Manuel mentioned that he was inspired by some of the grand abandoned architecture from the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I loved that idea and I could feel his inspiration in his work. Something about humans’ grand plans, hubris and impermanence..reminded me of poem the Statue (of Ozymandias) but this statue being the city.

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With 16 -10 foot screens, and stirring soundtrack; Memorsion is truly an immersive experience. Manual Chantre has transformed the upstairs event space: the walls disappear while the screens’ projected material seems to float. The screens are well engineered: they are transparent enough to allow light to pass through them but opaque enough to keep a clear image. The space has a transformative effect on the viewer. Viewers become ghosts as they wander the space sometimes appearing as shadows or another projected surface. Then there’s the coolest part:   it’s a dynamic video that changes with gallery traffic. There are infrared cameras that trigger different video sequences that are spliced into the program if there are people in the infrared area. Besides the video changing, the space feels differently with depending on the amount of people in it.

When I visited Memorsion, I first explored the space finding different vantage points and layers of screens. But I found staying in a fixed position, sitting and staring through the exhibit to be the most enjoyable. I could see a screen clearly as the rest of the screens blurred and warped around my periferal views feeling more immersive.

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Memorsion is upstairs at Paved Arts until Feb 21. Paved Arts is open Tues-Fri (12-6) and Saturday (12-4).
Head to 20th Street to check it out!

“PAUSE” at the Snelgrove Gallery

The students that are part of Marcus Miller’s Exhibition Technique class have taken over the Snelgrove this week in an interesting exhibit titled PAUSE.

Based around the notion that the modern white cube gallery is a void zone that is separate from time, place, and the outside world. Inside the gallery participants have a chance to pause: to step back from busy life, slow down, and reflect. By taking a pause, people often feel invigorated, gain fresh perspectives and notice little details that they’d usually miss. The Snelgrove Gallery’s press release introduces the show eloquently:

Gordon Snelgrove closed his eyes for a moment…

THE WORLD OUTSIDE IS CHAOS.
IT’S FOCUSED ON SPEED AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS. ANY PLACE
CAN BECOME A PLACE OF PAUSE. A PLACE WHERE TIME SLOWS
DOWN AND EVERYDAY EXISTENCE BECOMES UNCANNY. A
PAUSE IS A TEMPORARY STOP: A PERIOD OF TIME IN WHICH
SOMETHING IS STOPPED BEFORE IT IS STARTED AGAIN. IT’S A
TEMPORARY INACTION, ESPECIALLY AS CAUSED BY
UNCERTAINTY. STEP AWAY, PULL BACK – IT CAN BE UNDONE;
THE ACTION CAN RESUME AT ANY MOMENT. IT DEPENDS ON
WHEN AND WHERE IT’S USED. I LIKE USING IT AS A REST
(BECAUSE I AM JUST LIKE THAT). DO NOTHING – NO
INTERACTIONS, DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, JUST BEING. IT
IS THE WHITE SPACES IN BETWEEN THAT ABSORB OUR MESSY
LIVES AND LEAVE US CLEAN. IT’S THE BANAL, THE OBVIOUS,
THE COMMON, THE ORDINARY, THE HABITUAL, BACKGROUND
NOISE. IT TAKES THE SPACE OF A BEAT, BUT NO NEW ACTION
HAPPENS, LIKE “MA” OR EMPTINESS, WHICH IS USED TO TAKE A
BREAK FROM THE CONSTANT ACTION AND TENSION OF A
STORY AND ALLOW IT TO BREATHE. PAUSE MEANS TAKING A
MOMENT TO STOP AND LOOK BACK TO HOW OUR ANCESTORS
WENT ABOUT THEIR DAILY LIVES.

The Pause show was influenced by a class intervention/performance of a slow walk through the grass bowl on campus. The university walkways are usually a rushed place of hurried speed-walking. The students that spent 40 minutes slow motion walking 200m through the bowl stuck out against this busy background. People paused, some stopped and watched. There were a lot of people confused at the scene of 20 plus people slo-mo walking that they filmed it and flagged down others to talk about it. The slow walk was a disturbance to the busy university setting.

The students that were part of the slow motion walk felt a strange calming peace as it became a meditation-like activity. They felt separated from the general activity of the university grounds. As they were slow motion walking through the bowl it was easy to notice little things around you like the activity of birds, distant construction sounds, the hum of college drive traffic, the feel of grass underneath a prolonged step and the gentle breeze. But the participants also noticed more internally: the beating of the heart and the rhythm of the breath.

From this activity the PAUSE gallery show was born. The class wanted to bring the experience of the slow-motion walk into the Snelgrove Gallery. The Snelgrove looks different than usual with most art pieces looking for the viewer to become a participant so that people become part of the PAUSE experience.

Here is a few of the works found in the gallery:

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^ The slow motion walk was re-created and filmed. Here it is shown in two formats: normal speed and increased speed. The normal speed shows the class in slow motion walking with everyday life going on around them. In the increased speed version it appears as if the class is walking normal speed while life around them is whizzing around them like swarm of bees.

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^There are a few things in this photo:
-The geometric sculptures are meditation helmets with small holes cut into them that distort light and sound. There is a projected patterned light sequence aimed at the helmets.

-A typical gallery is concerned with the four walls. Pause has recaptured planes that are usually unused and unnoticed. Thread and geometric structures are on the ceiling and creeping down the walls, while bubble wrap is covering the floor making you aware of every step that you (and others) take.

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^here is a visual of deconstructed slow motion steps.

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^FoundSound booth is a place to sit and listen closely to a soundscape while being bathed in ambient lighting. What you hear is a strange yet familiar journey that is made of isolated and layered sounds recorded (or found) while walking around the university area. You are encouraged to allow your brain to mentally create the environment of what your are hearing.

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^ There is also an isolation booth that has been soundproofed and light proofed (to a degree). It’s a good place to disconnect from the world and reconnect with yourself. Most people can only handle a few minutes with themselves in here, why is that?

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^The Stethoscope Pause performance is a participatory performance where people are connected together via stethoscopes. The participants listen to each others’ heartbeat and breathing as they regulate and relax together.

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^ Part of the exhibit is also located outside of the gallery. There is a wooden viewing chamber that silences distractions to focus closely on a patch of sky. You might see that sky differently than before.

This exhibit is up until Nov.29th, with the exhibition Friday 7-10.
So why don’t you PAUSE and check out the Snelgrove!