What I see each moment I’ve never seen before

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).

Fuglem-CentreSpace-text

A Gust of Wind

Group exhibition at DNA Artspace, London, Ontario
October 2015
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.

Pessoa sources:

from A Keeper of Sheep

*XXXIV

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)

**XXV

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.

from Alberto Caeiro: Complete Poems: Fernando Pessoa

Wild History

2009
nylon monofilament, steel, acetate, clear elastic thread, video loop

A “bear” of fine monofilament emerges from threads demarcating Ursa Major. Hundreds of other lines, in elastic thread, mark the constellation’s path across the space as it would appear every thousand years over the site. Collections of historical first-person accounts relating to the region are suspended in dark insect-like clouds at either side of the space. A video on a small screen captures the eye: a spider at work turns out to be the artist’s hands building the “bear” threads.

Wild History, MacLaren Art Gallery, Barrie, Ontario (2009)
Apprivoiser l’espace, Circa, Montreal, Quebec (2013)

 

here within our curving spaces

2008
nylon monofilament, elastic thread, fans (Cygnus, 9 hours: 144 x 196 x 72 in / 360 x 480 x 180 cm)

In the entry room to the exhibition, elastic threads are stretched horizontally between walls to bounce in a watery shimmer, while marking the former path of the adjacent West Don River. In the adjacent room, a nine-hour orbital pattern of the constellation Cygnus forms a structure of lines into which a swan-like flock is built from fine monofilament. It is placed in relation to the constellation’s position during the summer exhibition.

A flipbook records hourly maps of the night sky faced with aerial photos showing the river’s gradually altered path. Entirely daylit, the artwork’s visiblity changes depending on the time of day and cloud cover, gradually disappearing at sundown.

here within our curving spaces, Koffler Gallery, Toronto (2008)

Learning to live on the ground (Somewhere behind my heart)

2008
nylon monofilament, steel: 95 x 106 x 142 in / 240 x 270 x 360 cm

A network of monofilament is made by marking the points between pores on an enlarged photo of the artist’s back. Positioned over a map of stars situated overhead during the exhibition it forms a structure of lines into which fine thread is worked. A vaulted architecture of cellular layers emerges, attached to the floor by steel weights which mark the star points. Between the vertical lines/pores are spaces large enough to stand in.

Learning to live on the ground, Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain, Montreal (2008)
Circling the Inverse Square, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener, Ontario (2013)

Corona Borealis, 9-5

2008
nylon monofilament, plastic lenses

The constellation Corona Borealis is mapped out as it would be positioned over the gallery from 9-5, February 29 (during the exhibition). The resulting pattern forms the structure for a hand-looped net of fine monofilament which mimics the windowless brick wall of the Mississauga City Hall council chambers, visible through the window.

Corona Borealis, 9-5, Art Gallery of Mississauga (2008);

Imaginary Range

2007
nylon monofilament, 210 x 750 x 900 cm

A hand-crocheted web of fine monofilament is suspended overhead to follow imagined “thought pathways” between a room’s entries. Not visible from all vantage points, its mass (18 km of thread) testifies to distances traveled in touch and daydream while making it.

De-con-structions, National Gallery of Canada /Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, Ottawa (collection, 2007)

my Darling

2006
nylon and elastic thread, plastic magnifying lenses, acetate, plasticene, water

Clear elastic threads hang ceiling to floor and slip around the body as one passes between them. Lenses suspended overhead refract sunlight in wandering spots, on cloudy days spot-illuminating the shadows. Pools of water seem to grow out of the floor, reflecting more light. Flickering lights turn out to be strips of acetate attached to some threads and printed with names belonging to those who once passed near the foundry site, such as Jeanne Mance, Kondiaronk, Petite Rivière St-Pierre…  An artist book locates the site on historical maps along with possible routes taken at the time by those now lost.

my Darling, The Darling Foundry, Montreal (2006)

a continuous thread

2005
nylon monofilament, 126 x 60 x 60 in / 315 x 150 x 150 cm

An arms-reach sized semi-circle of monofilament lines supports nearly ten kilometres of finer thread looped back and forth to form a human-scale space.

connective tissue, Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain, Montreal (2005)

 

there’s a place on my back that isn’t there

2005
nylon stretch cord, steel cables, plywood and steel mounting structure: 126 x 60 x 84 in / 315 x 150 x 210 cm

Elastic cord is woven between steel cables, creating a space large enough for a person to enter and be supported, leaning into the webbed threads. The cables trace a “constellation” of skin on the artist’s back. [See Out here in space, 2005.]

connective tissue, Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain, Montréal (2005)
Search for Parallax (based on a constellation related to gallery site), Leo Kamen Gallery, Toronto (2008)