A Few Similar Things
February 6 – March 25, 2017
Curated by Natasha Chaykowski + Alison Cooley
Untitled Art Society + Stride Gallery + TRUCK Contemporary Art + The New Gallery
"She once suggested to a respected, successful, and generous curator that a particular artwork be included in an exhibition alongside another. The curator dismissed the suggestion without pause: 'those works are too similar, it’s too obvious' he said"
A Few Similar Things presents what its title suggests; it comprises four pairings of similar works, made autonomously by different artists. Mounted in vitrine spaces throughout the Arts Commons +15 pedway in Calgary, each installation is a coupling of works that in some way—aesthetically, conceptually, formally—are forthrightly alike.
Curating often prides itself on revealing the esoteric connectivity of artworks: the potential for juxtaposition to illuminate as-yet-unseen kinships, to tease out subtle thematic and formal tendencies or progressions, to build bonds between disparate objects. In this way, curatorial authority is engineered and maintained. A Few Similar Things plays critically with this impulse, questioning the relationship between power and curatorial methodologies.
In another vein, A Few Similar Things is situated in the context of a post-Internet ecology characterized by dizzying effluences of material—an environment that makes the avant-garde impulse of unique, novel creation appear impossible. How might artists faced with such a climate reckon with the act of creating? What can we understand from these similar works, made entirely independent from one another, each likely in complete ignorance of the other’s existence? How do art works become agents who operate outside of particular constraints of control, once unmoored from their artist's hand?
Rarely are we afforded the opportunity to look at similar images alongside each other. Instead, images are contextualized within an artist’s body of work, within a movement, a style, a regional artistic dialogue—their uniqueness highlighted in variation, rather than in their particularities. In A Few Similar Things, obvious pairings of like with like open poetic confluences between works, but also trace the rhythm of their small differences. In the space of the Arts Commons +15 vitrines, these pairings might become a kind of experiment: how do we reckon with sameness? Can the foundational impulses of curating be undone or de-familiarized by gestures of obvious combination? What might aesthetic closeness lend to us for understanding each other?
Tanya Lukin Linklater + Celia Perrin Sidarous
Celia Perrin Sidarous’ Chorégraphie de la main et de l’objet (2014) and Tanya Lukin Linklater’s short video Hands (2011) centre human hands as aesthetic units within a greater composition, alluding to the poetry of gesture. Rather than take up the hand’s use value—its capacity for labour, service, creation, etc.—each work captures the rhythmic, formal, and evocative potential of the hand. In Sidarous’ photograph, the hands are caught in mid-air, performing some unknown movement, whose grace points both to the construction of the composition, and opens up a space in which to imagine some unknown ritual significance. In Linklater’s video, by contrast, the hands are removed from any relationship to an object. Their movements take on an investigative quality, in motions that correspond to observing or being observed. At times, the hands’ gestures evoke touch between lovers, family members, caretakers, while at others they are reminiscent of banal activities such as handwashing. Linklater’s video moves through a range of human contact, recognition, and contemplation. In both works, hands become a vessel for performing the choreography of complex social relations, staged through the symbolic language of fingers and flesh.
Maggie Groat + Simone Rochon
Simone Rochon’s Le plein du vide no.3 (2015-2016) and Maggie Groat’s Proposal for a Monument (2013) both explore the tenuous relationship between architecture, monumentality, and fragility. Rochon, taking cues from the dreary and unremarkable aspects of utilitarian architectures in urban Montreal, painstakingly paints discrete paper surfaces. From there, her wall-paper like paintings are dissected and collaged to make precariously stacked structures and forms. In quoting a tradition of Cubism in her disjunctive forms, while employing an aesthetic of careful and gentle painterly surfaces, Rochon undermines the machismo typically associated with such Modern traditions of painting and architecture. In this gesture, there is a vulnerability that speaks to an unfurling of monumentality. Groat’s collage presents a similar tension: it imagines a vulnerable architecture of the monument. Her practice broadly considers the possibility of alternative futures in a speculative sense, futures that take up epistemologies that are typically marginalized—that which is liminal to monolithic patriarchal structures of politics and science for example, that which is plural and collaborative, and that which is vulnerable. Proposal for a Monument makes manifest these hypothetical aims in collating disparate images to create a new form. Yet, Groat’s monument is not dedicated to war. Nor is it an instrument of totalitarian propaganda. Rather, and like Rochon, it is a monument to a future wherein a diverse number of alternative forms of knowing provides the foundational structures of our existence.
Scott Benesiinaabandan + Sanaz Mazinani
Underlying the mesmerizing quality of both Scott Benesiinaabandan’s AK Sunrise (2012) and Sanaz Mazinani’s War Equipped #3 (2011) is a formal interest in a kind of kaleidoscopic mirroring. In each artist’s work, small images repeat rhythmically across decorative expanses: in Benesiinaabandan’s video, a moving wheel of tessellation; in Mazinani’s photographic collage, an ornate but unrecognizable form, delicate and jewelry-like. Yet, upon further inspection, the decorative structure of each work gives way to varied violences. In Mazinani’s collage, helmets, handguns, and heavy military boots, appear together as markers of the uncomfortable anonymity and authority created by wearing a uniform. In Benesiinaabandan’s, the image of the AK-47 returns time again, rotating in a decorative wheel alongside text fragments in Anishinaabemowin, excerpted news text, and historical images from Canada and Australia (where the work was completed while the artist was on residency). And while each work serves as a critique of state violence, each is also finely attuned to the potential of military technology to change behaviour—whether it is a querying of the space of identity within a military apparatus, or an imagining of the possibilities of resistance.
Vuk Dragojevic + Liza Eurich
Vuk Dragojevic’s short video, I,I,I,I (2013) portrays the unlikely division of a cinderblock into its constitutive parts which, when broken down into quarters, resemble the capital letter “I”. The heterogeneous parts reassemble and dismantle themselves in an infinite loop. Dragojevic’s gesture of material assembly is mirrored in Liza Eurich’s Apart from Coming Apart, no.2 (2012, 2017). Eurich’s work distills a single moment in the cycle of dismantling and rebuilding; her sculpture is two cinderblocks held together by the precarious and fragile addition of a thin connective strip of cement. Eurich’s sculpture points to a precarious union, liable to fall apart with the slightest physical provocation. Each of these works traverses a delicate balance between coming together and falling apart, and each despite their brawny material, speaks to the tenuousness of all things.
Tanya Lukin Linklater's performance collaborations, videos, photographs, and installations have been exhibited nationally and internationally. She is compelled by relationships between bodies, histories, poetry, pedagogy, Indigenous conceptual spaces (languages), and institutions. Her work has been exhibited and performed at EFA Project Space + Performa, NYC, Museum of Contemporary Art Santiago, Chilé, SBC Gallery, Montreal, Western Front, Vancouver, Images Festival + Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, Remai Modern, Saskatoon, Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, and elsewhere. In 2016 she presented He was a poet and he taught us how to react and become this poetry (Parts 1 and 2) at La Biennale de Montréal - Le Grand Balcon curated by Philippe Pirotte.
Tanya's poetry and essays have been published in C Magazine, BlackFlash Magazine, Yellow Medicine Review, Taos International Journal of Poetry and Art, Drunken Boat, Ice Floe, and in publications by Access Gallery, Western Front, and McLaren Art Centre. Tanya studied at University of Alberta (M.Ed.) and Stanford University (A.B. Honours) where she received the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship and the Louis Sudler Prize for Creative and Performing Arts. She is currently a graduate student in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University. She was awarded the Chalmers Professional Development Grant in 2010 and the K.M. Hunter Artist Award in Literature in 2013. She originates from the Native Villages of Afognak and Port Lions in southern Alaska and is based in northern Ontario, Canada.
Celia Perrin Sidarous holds an MFA from Concordia University, concentration Photography. Her work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions at Parisian Laundry (Montréal), the Esker Foundation (Calgary), the Dunlop Art Gallery (Regina), the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Montréal), The Banff Centre (Banff), WWTWO (Montréal), VU (Québec) and Gallery 44 (Toronto). Most recently her work was featured in the Biennale de Montréal 2016 – Le Grand Balcon, curated by Philippe Pirotte, at the Musée dʼart contemporain de Montréal. She is the recipient of a number of grants and awards, amongst them the Barbara Spohr Memorial Award 2011. Her works are part of several collections, including the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Living and working in Montréal, she travels frequently as a generative artistic approach.
Maggie Groat is an interdisciplinary artist who works in a variety of media including works on paper, sculpture, textiles, site-specific interventions and publications. Her current research surrounds site-responsiveness with regards to shifting territories, alternative and decolonial ways-of-being, methodologies of collage, and the transformation of salvaged materials into utilitarian objects for speculation, vision and action. Groat studied visual art and philosophy at York University before attending The University of Guelph, where she received an MFA degree in 2010. She has taught at the University of Guelph, the University of Toronto and at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where she was the Audain Artist Scholar in Residence in 2014. In 2015 she was nominated for the Sobey Art Award. Recently, her work has been included in exhibitions at Mercer Union, YYZ Artists's Outlet, Art Gallery of York University (Toronto), Western Front, SFU Audain Gallery (Vancouver) Rodman Hall Art Centre (St. Catharines) and Walter Philips Gallery (Banff). She lives on the southern shore of Lake Ontario on the traditional territory of Haudenosaunee and Attawandaron First Nations.
Simone Rochon holds a Masters in Visual and Media Arts (UQAM). Rochon's practice is based mostly in collage, drawing and sculpture. Her work has been shown recently at the Maison de la culture Côte-des-Neiges (2016), at Galerie Nicolas Robert (2015) and at the FOFA Gallery (2015) in Montreal. Her work can be found in a number of private and public collections, including the Collection Desjardins d’œuvres d’art, the Prêt d’œuvres d’art collection of the MNBAQ, the Ville de Montréal and Loto-Québec collections. Rochon is represented by Galerie Nicolas Robert in Montreal.
Scott Benesiinaabandan is an Anishinabe intermedia artist that works primarily in photography, printmaking and video. Scott has recently completed international residencies at Parramatta Artist Studios in Australia (2012), Context Gallery in Derry, North of Ireland (2010) and is most recently been awarded the University Lethbridge/Royal Institute of Technology iAIR residency 2013, along with international collaborative projects in both the U.K and Ireland. He is currently in Montreal, and recently completed a Canada Council New Media Production grant through OBx Labs/Ab-tech and Concordia.
In the past four years, Benesiinaabandan has been awarded multiple grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, Manitoba Arts Council and the Winnipeg Arts Council.
Benesiinaabandan has taken part in several group exhibitions across Canada and the United States, most notably in Harbourfront’s Flatter the Land/Bigger the Ruckus (2006), Subconscious City at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (2008) and with more recent solo exhibitions, unSacred, at Gallery 1C03 ( 2011) and in Sydney, Mii Omaa Ayaad/Oshiki Inendemowin (2012).In September, 2013 Benesiinaabandan will take part in Ryerson Image Centre’s Ghost Dance exhibition.
Sanaz Mazinani is an artist, curator, and educator based in San Francisco and Toronto. She holds her undergraduate degree from Ontario College of Art & Design University, and her Masters in Fine Arts from Stanford University. Mazinani’s work explores the relationship between perception and representation by drawing on concepts such as censorship, scale, and the body as a site of action or violence. Working primarily in photography and large-scale photo-based installations, her practice intersects conceptual and formal boundaries of the photographic image in response to site, sight, and insight, especially in relation to digital culture.
Her projects have been exhibited in venues such as Museum Bärengasse, Zurich, Art & Architecture Library at Stanford University, University of Toronto Art Center, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Sarai, New Delhi, di Rosa Museum, Napa, ASU Museum, Arizona, Gallery 44 Center for Contemporary Photography, Toronto, and Emirates Financial Towers, Dubai. Her artwork has been written about in Artforum, Flash Art, artnet News, Border Crossings, NOW Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, and Washington Post, and Vice’s Creator’s Project.
Mazinani’s catalogue “Unfolding Images” was released in 2012. She has recently received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and San Francisco Arts Commission for her art practice. In 2013 she was shortlisted for the 2013 Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize, granted the Kala Art Institute Fellowship, and was awarded the San Francisco Arts Commission Art on Market Street public art installation. In 2014 she completed two other major art installations for Facebook and the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, Washington, DC.
Vuk Dragojevic is a Serbian born interdisciplinary artist, photographer, and filmmaker based in Toronto. He holds a BFA from OCAD University and has shown work in festivals and exhibitions in Canada, Italy, England and France. His documentary practice focuses on artists and craftsmen who have chosen to work with their hands, in an increasingly digital and automated world. A recent project is Taxidermy is Goodbye, an Ontario Arts Council funded film about Manuel Jan, the owner of the last taxidermy shop in Toronto. Dragojevic’s installation work explores visual perception, metamorphosis, and the ways in which objects move in playful or unexpected ways. His floating installation Sinking of You, commissioned by In/Future festival was recently shown in the murky waters of Lake Ontario.
Liza Eurich completed her BFA from Emily Carr University in 2010 and her MFA from Western University in 2012. She co-publishes the online project Moire and recently completed international residencies at Acme Studios (London, UK), Glasgow Sculpture Studios (Glasgow, UK) and Banff (Banff, AB). Represented by MKG127 in Toronto, her work has been exhibited at G Gallery, Neutral Ground, Hamilton Artists Inc., Plug-In ICA, McIntosh Gallery, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery and the Power Plant.