Permanent installation at Nouveau CHUM, Montréal
it’s up, as of March, 2017! (Now it’s official)
At Pierre-François Ouellette’s Centre Space gallery in Toronto I adapted two installations which have been seen in earlier incarnations in 2015: because something lightens in us at DNA Artspace, London, Ontario, in Patrick Mahon’s A Gust of Wind in October, and Vie étendue (feelers) at the McClure Gallery, Montreal, January (January light, so light). A third installation, Vent, is particular to this place (its title a wave to Patrick’s project last fall). During the two weeks of installation I was in good company, surrounded as Centre Space is by Feheley Fine Arts and its continually changing presence of art by northern artists, notably Shuvinai Ashoona, whose drawings, and collaborative drawings made with Shary Boyle, were on view to mark the launch of their fantastic artist book Universal Cobra.
Four artists helped see this through. Many thanks to Shellie Zhang for installation assistance on site, Lalie Douglas for preparation assistance in Montreal, and Phil Baljeu who built and programmed a dimming light fixture so Vie étendue can be seen in both natural and artificial light. Thanks also to Toni Johannesen, who took time away from her Studio Antico to help Shellie and I with interminable threading of polyester strips.
I’ll post more videos and photos of the show when it’s over, because it really is best experienced in person. It’s made for that, for spending a bit of time lost in it, if you can.
In the meantime, here are some images and a video to get across the essence of what’s there in a way that makes sense on a computer screen. (Please also see below for the text I wrote to introduce the work).
Group exhibition at DNA Artspace, London, Ontario
curated by Patrick Mahon
This group exhibition and panel discussion was organized by artist Patrick Mahon, whose work was presented in the exhibition, along with mine and that of Canadian artists Sean Caulfield (Edmonton, AB); David Merritt (London, ON); Tegan Moore (London, ON); Francine Savard (Montreal, Q.C.), and Norwegian artist, Elida Brenna Linge.
“Through photography, painting, sculpture, print media and video, the artists respond to the wind through a range of visual strategies that remind us of its power and its delicacy. They also show us that we may often know the wind less through our eyes than through its touch and its effects on physical materials.” PM
I spent a few days installing two installations and an intervention, if you want to call them something, although I prefer the titles, which I borrowed from Fernando Pessoa’s Keeper of Sheep poems, written under the heteronym Alberto Caeiro. (see below).
Much gratitude to Randi Aiken for her assistance in London.
i find it so natural not to think that sometimes I start laughing, all by myself*
With the slightest air movement, these things turn slowly and send reflected lines of light in fast spin on surfaces around them.
because something lightens in us**
A drawing composed of strips of transparent and reflective mylar responds to air displaced by someone walking past. Shown here in daylight, and with one halogen light positioned overhead.
from A Keeper of Sheep
I find it so natural not to think
That I sometimes start laughing, all by myself,
About I don’t know quite what, but it has to do
With there being people who think…
What does my wall think about my shadow?
Sometimes I wonder about this until I realize
I’m wondering about things…
And then I feel annoyed and out of sorts with myself,
As if I’d realized my foot was asleep…
What does one thing think about another?
Nothing thinks anything.
Is the earth aware of the stones and plants it contains?
If it were, it would be a person,
And if it were a person, it would have a person’s nature, it wouldn’t be the earth.
But what does all this matter to me?
If I thought about these things,
I would stop seeing the trees and plants
And I would stop seeing the Earth,
Seeing nothing but my thoughts…
I would grow sad and remain in the dark.
The way I am, without thinking, I have the Earth and the Sky.
(from A Little Larger than the Entire Universe, edited and translated by Richard Zenith)
Those soapbubbles that kid
Amuses himself with by blowing them from a straw
Are transparently a whole philosophy.
Clear, useless and fleeting like Nature,
Friends to the eyes like things,
They are what they are
With a little round airy precision,
And nobody, not even the kid who’s making them,
Pretends they’re more than they appear to be.
Some are hard to see in the clear air.
They’re like a breeze that blows and barely touches the flowers
And we only know it’s blowing
Because something lightens in us
And accepts everything more clearly.
polyester, mylar, steel wire
During January’s brief days three installations respond to available light and air movement at the McClure Gallery.
In Spinning World (version écran), installed near the large front window, a subtle show of lines of light appear most of the day. This bit of light is cast onto frosted mylar panels from assemblies of cut polyester attached to curved wires which turn slowly with any breeze from the opening gallery door. But between 3 and 3:30 pm on sunny days, light reflecting off windows across the street illuminates these spinners which in turn cast bright trains of light across the mylar panels.
Sans titre (light study 01/2015) is a simple assembly of mirroed mylar panels suspended to respond to changing air currents, in turn reflecting even the slightest glimmer of daylight onto a sheet of paper hung nearby. Even days of heavy snowfall days cast light “shows” on the paper.
A few halogen lights, however, help illuminate Vie étendue (feelers) on a wall where the only daylight reflects off the white surfaces of those adjacent to it. Strips of polyester film are suspended from wires inserted into this wall, which is hung with backdrop paper. The strips move gently with changes in air from the door opening or a visitor walking past, reflecting incongruously curved lines of light on the paper.
Galerie McClure, Westmount, Quebec
plastic, fishline, glass beads, steel thread & frames; aluminum & monofilament
Thousands of discs cut from plastic water bottles are threaded together into “clouds” suspended in an atrium. Along the wall, groups of spinal-curved arcs threaded with monofilament form a path of lines against which anyone pausing to rest appears to hover.
Permanent installation at Cirque du Soleil Headquarters, Montreal, Canada (corporate collection)
polyester film, monofilament, plywood bench (daylight, air movement)
Sheets of clear polyester film are cut in strips and suspended in a daylit room with open windows, weather conditions articulated by reflected light in motion. One large swath, at the aspect ratio of a 16 mm film, sinuously reflects outside buildings; individual sheets hover above the floor, rippling waterily with air movement.
La Biennale de Montréal (2011)
fans, timers, nylon thread, acetate discs: 112 x 47 x 83 in / 285 x 120 x 210 cm
Discs hand-cut from acetate are threaded between a ceiling support and domestic fans placed on the floor at the scale of a dining room table. The fans turn on and off to mimic the rushes and lulls of a conversation, lifting the discs along the threads where they flicker with reflected light in the day-lit room. Originally shown in the former dining room at Gairloch Gallery, Oakville, Ontario, as part of many things were left unsaid.
many things were left unsaid, Gairloch Gallery of Oakville Galleries, Oakville, ON, Canada (2003)
Soft Passages, Gairloch Gallery of Oakville Galleries, Oakville, ON, Canada (2005)
States of Materiality/ Etats de la matière (2008), Stewart Hall Gallery, Pointe-Claire, QC, Canada
Conversations with Light and Air, Two Rivers Gallery, Prince George, BC, Canada
inkjet print on polyester, steel frame (48 X 56 in / 122 x 142) cm with fan
A fabric-printed photograph of clouds seen from a plane is stretched over a steel frame supported a few inches above the floor. A fan nearby causes a vertiginous rippling of the image.
many things were left unsaid, Gairloch Gallery of Oakville Galleries, ON, Canada (2003);
curator: Kim Simon
Leo Kamen Gallery, Toronto, ON, Canada (2006)
acetate discs, nylon threads; fans on timers
Discs hand-cut from acetate are attached to the gallery’s walls in an undulating mass. Household fans placed overhead turn on and off at different intervals, causing the discs to flicker and reflect whatever light passes into the unlit room from two passageways. The discs never move all at the same time and in some parts of the room are not visible when still.
Some day soon you’ll stop searching for meaning, Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain, Montreal, Canada (2002); technical assistance: Simon Nakonechny
Sense, The Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta, Canada (2004); curator: Catherine Crowston
photos: Paul Litherland & the artist
Installation: plastic bags (7 X 9 in and 9 X 12 in); steel wire; nylon fishing line
Small plastic bags, each filled with a breath of air, are suspended by fine, coiled wires at head height. Holes made through gallery walls let in air, wind, dust, snow. The viewer may walk amidst the bags — they bob about and cling to hair and clothing, whispering around the ears.
Cumulous, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada (2000); curator: Joan Stebbins
Breathing Room, Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada (2001); curator: Anthony Kiendl
Bonheur et simulacres, La Manif d’art 2, Ville Québec, Canada (2003); curator: Bernard Lamarche
Conversations with light and air, Two Rivers Gallery, Prince George, BC, Canada (2010); curator: George Harris
photos: Don Gill (courtesy SAAG)