Exhibition runs: September 26th – October 25th, 2014
Reception: Friday, Sept 26th, 2014
Visiting Artist and Scholar Lecture: Friday, Sept 26th @ University of Calgary
In the UAS Main Space
Friday, September 26th: 8PM-11PM
Saturday, October 4th: 12PM-2PM
Saturday, October 25th: 12PM-2PM
Fashioned from thousands of hand-stitched Kleenex, Andrew McPhail’s monumental installation, CRYBABY, presents a sculptural and performative evocation of grief, loss and tragic experience. Activated by durational performances throughout the course of the exhibition, CRYBABY consists of an open ended street performance where the gathering and laborious sewing together of bartered and donated tissues into a cloudscape installation piece, offers participants a shared perspective into grief and moments of consolation.
Andrew McPhail is a Canadian visual artist. He was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1961 and studied at York University where he received his MFA in 1987. Living in Toronto in the 1980's and 90's his work focused primarily on drawing, often with pencil crayon on a polyester film called mylar. After moving to Hamilton in 2005, his practice shifted towards three dimensional work, performance, and painting. His accumulative, craft oriented work reconfigures disposable materials such as band aids, Kleenex, and pins into large sculpture and installations.
by Caitlin Sutherland
“The marvel of consciousness—that sudden window swinging open on a sunlit landscape amid the night of non-being” – Vladimir Nabokov as quoted by Arthur Danto in Beauty and Sublimity (The Abuse of Beauty, 159)
Andrew Mcphail’s installation, CRYBABY, fashioned from thousands of hand-stitched Kleenex, evokes a tactile, expansive yet hazy cloudscape. This undulating mass appears monumental in comparison to the papier-mâché airplane bound together with artificial tears that dangles from the ceiling above it. While on a transatlantic flight a few years ago, the passenger sitting next to McPhail on the plane suffered a heart attack and passed away, moving McPhail to undertake this sensitive, reflexive and personal—yet universal—piece.
The affectual capabilities of the installation, and its presence within the space, align it with the contemporary sublime. CRYBABY manages to capture a fleeting moment where this expansive mass of clouds evokes a sense of vastness, wonder, and awe; a presence that is physically heightened and made menacing through the seemingly miniature scale of the plane. On closer inspection, the plane, far above this tumultuous, impenetrable barrier between heaven and earth, conjures a treacherous, manic struggle, mirroring the limitations of human existence, while also successfully balancing a sense of poetic tranquility.
Using this push and pull between the beautiful and the sublime, this installation is a gesture on McPhail’s part to memorialize the overwhelming sense of grief and horror associated with this tragic experience. The installation successfully summons sensations of the abject and human fragility, while maintaining a sense of hope and possibility; an undercurrent often at play within the difficult topics McPhail continually explores within his practice.
Caitlin Sutherland is Programming Coordinator at Hamilton Artists Inc. and maintains an active independent curatorial and art writing practice. Her academic background is in curatorial practice, criticism, and museum studies from OCAD U and U of T, and her writing has appeared in Canadian Art, Beautiful/ Decay, Hamilton Arts and Letters and Daily Serving.