Posts Tagged ‘conceptual’

The merging of events, the overlap of months.
At the Distillery District, many features were made yellow in April in honour of cancer awareness month.

the heart at the Parliament street side of the Distillery District that is usually red has been made yellow

Towards the end of that month, some large pictures began appearing on the brick walls.  An early installation for CONTACT month, May, these are Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart’s  “Good Stuff Bad Stuff” which is a series of conceptual photographs attached to the exterior walls of some of the buildings.

From the CONTACT website:  “a series of bizarre self-portraits that connect concepts of home and identity. The artist’s own grungy apartment and various public spaces serve as the backdrop to the photo series. Using physical experiences and found objects, the photographs in this exhibition explore the relationship between ourselves and the personal objects we buy, inherit, and throw away.”

picture on a wall at the Distillery District

below: I’m not sure that a candle on one’s head ‘explores’ anything… but maybe I was missing something?

a woman's head with a lit candle on it, melted wax has run down her face and hair, bright orange wall in the background.

And so we go off on a bit of a google tangent to see what there is for ‘candle, head’.  I find candles as a Christian symbol for light in the darkness.  There is also an image of a black man with a real lit candle on his head with melting wax running down his forehead, lit by his pastor “to deliver him from the spirit of homosexuality”.  Searches also yield skulls as candle holders (or candle holders in skull shapes) used as a novelty item, or as method of casting spells if you believe in such things.   And last, Tim Burton made a music video for “The Killers” (a group) where at the end, two people are sitting across from each other at a table, both with a lit candle on their head.  In this last case there is melding of reality and fantasy as one character is a wax figure that occasionally comes to life.   Whether this has anything to do with the image above, I have no idea.   But I’m sure that my ramblings, although entertaining (ha!) are probably just a detour.

below: Hope floats. One of the photographs on a wall surrounded by “graffiti” ( of the fake kind).  No candles here?  It’s the paper boats that are burning.  If there were candles, they are long gone.

a head partially submerged in water, surrounded by little white trays with flames


below: More yellow

the four legs of the large spider-like sculpture at the Distillery District are yellow and the head part is wrapped with blue plastic

below: Another picture.  Flowers and hands.

a large poster attached to brick wall, outside, hands coming out of a large bush with purple flowers on it.

below: More picture.  This time an ode to junk food and trashiness by the looks of it.  The lion is blue but unmoved.  With a fast food paper crown on her head and a cigarette in her mouth.  Garbage randomly strewn but carefully placed so there is no product placement.

picture on a stone wall, blue tones, lion sculpture, sitting beside flight of stairs, woman leaning against lion, cigarette in her mouth, food in the other hand, garbage strewn on the stairs around her feet

below: The last bit of yellow for today.

distillery district, love sign for locks, the heart has been decorated with a lot of yellow flowers

fake yellow flowers placed by some locks

below: And one last photograph to give you some ideas of what to do with the photos of Venice that you might have, you know, the ones that look like everyone else’s.   There are many more on display at the Distillery District.   As I type this I am warming up to the pictures but I am still torn.   Does anyone want to offer an opinion?

large photo on a brick wall, taken by a canal in Venice, of a woman covered from head to toe in black weeds as she stands beside the canal

Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart is on Instagram

I usually take a dim view of conceptual art largely because the importance given to the “words on the wall” has eclipsed the consideration given to the artwork itself.   Mediocrity in technique or creativity hides behind big jargon words and convoluted language in the artist statement.  Often the concept that the artist claims to be exploring is at odds with the end product.

When the art doesn’t live up to words that sound learned and meaningful then it degrades the work and makes the artist, and those curating the exhibit, seem pompous and out of touch.

For example, if you read that certain videos by an artist “cast a hitherto unexampled light on the conventional North American city”,  what would you expect to see?  Would you expect to see a video shot from a helicopter as it circled a city at night?  A video that looks familiar to anyone who has flown over a city after dark.   That’s what you get with Aude Moreau’s ‘The End in the Background of Hollywood 2015’ now showing at The Power Plant gallery.   I don’t have a photo of it but I do have a picture of three of her other photographs also on display.

below: From left to right (discounting the small picture farthest from the camera): 1. ‘Untitled (Hollywood Sign)’ 2015, 2. ‘LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department)’ 2015.  It’s a picture of a tiny helicopter in a large grey sky.  and 3. ‘Waiting for Landing’, airplanes lined up as they approach LAX airport.   Unfortunately, the words on the wall then go on to say, about these three images, “These demonstrate visual strategies that act upon the symbolic representation of the city and the spectacular dimension of the film industry.”  Oh my.

4 pictures hanging in a contemporary art gallery. One is a picture of the Hollywood sign taken just after dark, the next is a grey sky with a tiny dot of a helicopter in the middle, the third is too far away to discern, and the last is a picture of Los Angeles at night taken from a helicopter

And with that I left The Power Plant gallery.  Growling silently to myself and shaking my head with a mix of disdain and and frustration.   Imagine my surprise when once outside I encountered another of Moreau’s photographs.  A very lovely one.

below:  A picture of the Toronto skyline by Aude Moreau mounted on an exterior wall at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.  A picture with visual impact.

A photograph by Aude Moreau of the Toronto skyline as the sun starts to set, sunlight reflected off the buildings, darkening blue sky. The picture is mounted on an exterior wall and there is a tree in front of it as well as a couple of picnic tables

below:   You can play “spot the building” and test your knowledge of Toronto geography.   You can line up the DBRS building, the Hilton Hotel and the Canada Life building on University Avenue along with the Sheraton Hotel on Queen street.   The blue addition on the AGO is farther north on Dundas.  Can you think of where the photo was taken?  Apparently, it was taken from Toronto Fire Station 315 at College Street and Bellevue Avenue.  It was taken just after sunset but when there was still enough light in the sky to reflect off the taller buildings.   Moreau makes the city sparkle.

A photograph by Aude Moreau of the Toronto skyline as the sun starts to set, sunlight reflected off the buildings, darkening blue sky. The picture is mounted on an exterior wall and there is a tree in front of it

I must have seen this picture very shortly after it was installed.  It is part of the CONTACT photography festival that starts this weekend but there was no accompanying sign, no words that attempted to a explain the image.  Perhaps that was for the best.  In fact, I now have the CONTACT catalogue with their description of the artwork but I think I won’t read them.  I’d rather enjoy the picture just the way it is.