Sunday, August 21, 2016

Becoming animal

In Vancouver a little while ago we peeked in on the exhibit Becoming Animal/Becoming Landscape at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at UBC, which explores works "through the lens of recent philosophical ideas, questioning and breaking down old borders between the human and the non-human."

For me it expressed some ideas about our relationship to nature, and how strong a force our environment is in shaping us and our technology, but it also coalesced some ideas that were germinating in me after having travelled from Montreal to Vancouver by train, and venturing north by car and by ferry to the gateway to the Great Bear Rainforest. (Curator's talk: "...based on mapping... travelling through the landscape, and when you do that, the landscape begins to saturate you and you become the landscape." (We are becoming landscape.))

Notably, the exhibit included works by Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, to whose work I'm glad to be introduced, and Emily Carr, for whom I have fresh appreciation now that I've seen the northwest landscape she strove to express.

(I must admit, I was a bit horrified to be confronting some sexual/erotic pieces in the company of both my daughter and my mother. To her credit, my mother was able to take away some insight into and appreciation of technique within the context of my brother's artwork, the whole purpose of our journey west being to scatter his ashes. (He is becoming landscape.))

One overtly bookish component of the exhibit was Marina Roy's "Thumb Sketches."

The work consists of a series of paperbacks of literary classics from the Western cannon, flayed to show Roy's ink paintings on the edges. They are scatological and lightly pornographic, but quite funny — visual responses to or subtexts of the particular novel.

In a statement on her website, Roy writes:
In the pile-up of language and spectacle which constitutes our amnesiac present, one role for art is to create a clearing within our petrified landscape, and, through a reordering all this new and obsolete stuff, through bricolage and play, construct new meanings, new conceptions of reality, shot through with historical memory, utopian aspirations, and pleasure.

Cross-disciplinary in scope, my artwork investigates the intersection between materials, history, language, and ideology. It is my hope that the work addresses the need for a post-humanist perspective, counter to the dictates of humanistic hubris and its entrapment within binary power dynamics. Art can act as a bridge between culture and nature, ethics and drive.
I'm a big fan of this intersection of language and art, and will be hunting down her book about the letter X.

1 comment:

Stefanie said...

What a marvelous exhibition!