Tuesday, May 17, 2011

“ Buffet “ review by Debora Alanna


Maître’d: (Curated by) Tyler Hodgins
On the menu: (Artists and sculptures, à la carte)
Ø Megan Dikie
Fowl Chic #1, #2, #3 2002. Wax.
Ø Kathryn Ellis
Solo 2005. Italian Marble.
Ø David Gifford – Retread 2 2008. Chlorite.
- Colony Collapse 2011. Marble, granite, bronze
- The Bee’s Knees 2011. Wood, wax.
Ø “The Creative Production Division with support from the New School of Inquiry: Domestic Preservation and the Archive & Library Special Collections at the L.S. Benschop Institute for the Preservation & Veneration of Imagination & Nostalgia” (aka Lisa Benschop)
The Recipe 2011. Wooden recipe box, index card.
Ø Ian Rorie
- Hunter-Gatherer 2009. Plywood, wire, compact florescent bulb.
Ø Christine Clark
- Aluminum Circle 2011. A year’s worth of beer cans.
Ø Robert Wise
- Mold for Ratgnaw 2006. Ceramic, wax residue, photo.

You are what you eat. Who said that first? Was it Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin who wrote The Physiology of Taste or Transcendental Gastronomy in 1826 ([1]): "Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es." (Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.), perhaps? In his introductory note, curator Tyler Hodgins suggests we sample Buffet, select from the courses of work where you can taste an assortment of sculpture. Each idea you savor may reveal something about you, the consumer, in the manner of Brillat-Savarin’s philosophy. The works reveal much about the makers, 6 sculptors that interpose the stark Slide Room exhibition space. Let’s feast!

Entering, Megan Dickie‘s plucky work arrests us. We encounter 3 wax chickens (Fowl Chic #1, #2 and #3 - 2002) molded from reclining, birds prepped for some future gastronomic possibility lounging on low, round IKEA tables. We pause akin to a tableaux vivant. Or is the paused action of the chickens (seemingly conscious of their dramatic solidification) a declaration of Dickie’s detachment forcing us to pull our feathers, sounding our stir of this impudent display with compliments of delight? Unlike Babette’s petted quails, a symbol of a past life in Isak Dineson’s short story, we do not witness the neck breaking, nor the dishing of something epicurean like Cailles en Sarcophage. Dickie’s headless, flightless bird work does inhume sentimentality, waxing potential. And some of us may even pet the cuties. Gobble.

Suddenly, to the far back corner, we spy a spoon shape, an outsized white, seductive marble sculpture carved by Kathryn Ellis. Approaching, we unexpectedly shrink to an Alice miniature after consuming the “Drink Me” bottle. Weighted powerlessness transforms beauty’s consuming repose within a derisory relationship. We look, and consider the seductive attraction to the material, wondering about the capacity that will be required to raise this imposing implement to slurp up the soup (a sturdy course)? A ready comparison exists to the monumental fountain-sculpture Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985-88) by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Big spoons, both, allow us a standing or walking stance toward an icon of our daily occupancy with what sustains us. Ellis’ work, removed from the pedestal is vulnerable. No bendy handling, no jolly cherry splashes to refresh. Solo scoops up our attention, drawing us to the alluring mat surface ensuring we pay attention to a singularly preserved reality where substantial passion is obscure, smoothly confounded and the story is immobilized. Crunch.

Swerving to the right, is more to tantalize our appetite. Cajoling us with content, David Gifford presents 3 works in close juxtaposition affording a scenario with an inverted chair with wax honeycomb remnants (The Bee’s Knees ), a curvilinear chlorite skid carving turned to its side (Retread 2), and an engraved granite platform holding rosy wall stone pieces askew, with broken bronzed honey combs poised for scrutiny (Colony Collapse). Together, the honey is afoot! The bee’s office chair suited the hive, once, as the leftover comb shards demonstrate. Once excellently habitable, the chair becomes a thing forlorn. What happened? The retreading of a journey? An incised track reestablished the form from is aptness, shaping destiny with domination through processing. And finally, the collapsed colony made memorial, pouring bronze to saturate the honey vessel, the place of industry and awe though with inadvertent placement on a granite squared. Diagonally cockeyed, stone boarders fail to follow function, counterbalancing the weight of regret’s transport. Words inscribed in granite from past works become obfuscated by shadow’s ledge.

Maurice Maeterlinck wrote a book called ‘Le Nid d'Abeilles’ or ‘The Life of the Bee’.

“She (nature) eludes us on every side; she repudiates most of our rules and breaks our standards to pieces. …He (man) has, hitherto, legitimately feared that the attempt to adapt his morality to that of nature would risk the destruction of what was her masterpiece.” ([2])

Gifford juggles, forming structures with features of a struggle that is inward, present and visible that results from his thought provoking actions on material. This sculpture examines convictions, the chaos resulting from revamping ideas within the context of our natures. Sweet. Better than honey.

The Recipe, We all need a recipe. Begin with a recipe. “The Creative Production Division with support from the New School of Inquiry: Domestic Preservation and the Archive & Library Special Collections at the L.S. Benschop Institute for the Preservation & Veneration of Imagination & Nostalgia” (aka Lisa Benschop) exhibits her recipe for Nostalgia in Buffet. Hand written on an index card, placed in a worn wooden recipe box from another era the solitary instructions describe a creative process. Her recipe suggests personal history, gathered with “fondness and nostalgia”, acknowledges the significance of creativity that results in originality when reverential memory triggers imagination. Thinking about some recipes for creation by artists over the years, F.T. Marinetti’s 1932 “The Futurist Cookbook” begins the recipe roster for how to venerably disseminate doctrine creatively. The 2010 “Street Art Cookbook” by Benke Carlsson and Hop Louie also comes to mind as a means to explore a creative processing. In her essay entitled An Aestheic of Nostalgia: Wallace Berman and his Proximity to the Object published in the UBC Undergraduate Journal of Art History Issue 1 | 2010, Sophia Zweifel writes:

“Berman’s works not only simulated a patina of age, but were con­sciously placed within a history that Berman was constantly in the process of safe-guarding against the changeableness of society. The social, personal, and physical interactions between these pieces and their beholders, helped to construct his group’s identity, one strongly rooted in the shared sense of their own collective present. Along with that sense of a shared moment, however, came the subtle consciousness that this present was constantly being transformed into history.” ([3])

Each artist follows a recipe of their own making, Nostalgia, when mixed well with wakefulness to the present is a technique to create future consideration and becomes the object of nostalgic reflection. Benschop has made her quaint work a podium for an essential undertaking. Recipes are fun to share, imagining what morsels can be made - Mmmm.

From: “Les Fleurs du mal (The Evil Flowers)” by Charles Baudelaire
CXXIII. La Mort des Artistes (The Death of Artists)
(Google Translation)
    How many times does it shake my bells
    And kiss thy low brow, dismal caricature?
    To strike the target, mystical nature
    How, O my quiver, losing javelins?
    We wear out our souls in subtle plots,
    And we demolish many heavy frames,
    Before contemplating the great Creature
    Whose infernal desire fills us with tears!
    There are those who have never known their Idol
    And those damned sculptors and marked with an insult,
    Who will be pounding his chest and forehead,
    Have only one hope, and strange dark Capitol!
    “It is Death, hovering like a new sun,
    Will grow the flowers of their brain! ([4])

Ian Rorie built Hunter-Gatherer with plywood, and fastened a trap, labeling it, so we would know what lurked inside, lighting the way to entrapment. Sustenance begins with death of some kind. Whether it is the reaping of grain, produce and gathering of the harvest or hunting the animal to produce the sustenance of the meal, there is the death, transformation and nourishment, ultimately. But is this really what is happening here? As Baudelaire points out in his 123rd poem of Les Fleur du Mal, “Death… Will grow the flowers of their brain!” Death, personified as the hold that cannot be captured, grown and gathered will, when we are faced with this fact, allow ideas to manifest. Artists must let imitation or misrepresentation die or die creatively. Rorie presents the diversionary plotting we must struggle with, and face to overcome trepidation. We must hunt out our nemesis, gather our wits, be aware of contrivance and allow our minds to feed us. Be hungry and you will capture what you need.

Thirsty? An ebbing and flowing beckons in the corner of the gallery. Christine Clark’s glistening aluminum disks glimmer as we approach. There is cornering, there is flow from, towards, a stream of overlaid water-like circles, and as Richard Long considered, the beauty of circles are neutral and abstract. Clark’s circles are tiny and part of another formation – Long’s are fashioned from natural material and large in landscape. Nevertheless, Clark’s work does address neutrality and an abstract sensibility. Last month, at the Ministry of Casual Living, Clark displayed this work rising up a wall, ascending in celebration of a year’s abstinence. Neutralizing the cut outs by ensuring no beer labeling exists, Clark objectifies her material and relates a nonjudgmental presence. Abstraction relinquishes past and present. Now the work streams into the gallery, and like a geisha (artist), “But she told me I was like water... Water can carve its way through stone. And when trapped, water makes a new path.” (Sayuri Narration: [while little Chiyo is on the train to the hanamachi], in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, originally from the novel written by Arthur Golden. This sculptural installation reflects on cessation, how the flow of consumption stills and transforms with time. As the work is now horizontal, transcending enigmatically towards aesthetic idealism, in good company with the forefathers of abstraction ([5]), Clark’s work carves consciousness towards abstracted fulfillment. Soul food.

Bob Wise’s cast for his 2006 Ratgnaw, posthumously exhibited is a fragmented glimpse into his original mind. Buffet presents his ceramic mold, with vestiges of wax drippings used to cast a rat chewed potato, later made into bronze. Honouring Wise’s memory by adding the celebration of past fare to keep memories fresh emphasizes the diversity of the buffet we are partaking of ensuring we “narrow the gap between the act of being and the task of being.” ~ Robert Wise ([6]) Hodgins displays the remnants of Wise’s work process on an altar like table with a photo of the finished work above. Like Vincent van Gogh did when he painted The Potato Eaters (1885), through Wise, Hodgins has us foraging at the community table to feed our ratty hearts. Lots to chew. Epicurus would approve.

[1] http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/brillat/savarin/b85p/index.html
[2] http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/4511/pg4511.html
[3] http://www.ubcujah.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Sophia-Zweifel.pdf
[4] http://baudelaire.litteratura.com/les_fleurs_du_mal.php ORIGINAL and more translations: http://fleursdumal.org/poem/199
[5] Hilton Kramer, "Mondrian & mysticism: My long search is over", New Criterion, September 1995
[6] Tyler Hodgins. “Buffet”. Exhibition Catalogue, May 2011.


Slide Room Gallery

2549 Quadra St

Victoria BC

6 May – 27 May 2011

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