6pm Thursday October 14 2010
Studio Béluga’s Re-Opening Exhibition
Works by Ayan Bihi, Jhave Johnston, Anna J. McIntyre and Nathalie Quagliotto.
What’s the difference between a sandy beach and a white-walled gallery? A playground and an art fair? A fairground and a museum? New works by four local artists break the boundaries of traditional exhibition practices; not only do they invite gallery-goers to play like children, they demand that we act in strange new ways as adults.
Children love sand for its endless possibilities, its soft but gritty tactility and its mysterious, hypnotic effects. Wittgenstein used sand as a starting point in his discussion of the unspeakable power inherent in typically inert objects. Some things just beg to be played with and some spaces demand to be explored. At it’s re-opening, Studio Béluga is poised to become just such a space: a work and exhibition venue where lollipops, playground slides, theory, relationships, new-media and traditional art forms collapse and coincide.
Ayan Bihi, an emerging Montréal artist with roots in both rural Ottawa and Mogidishu, Somalia, speaks of the need to create an alternative space for herself, a freedom of movement disallowed by common cultural stereotypes. Passages incorporates footage of found dance videos, playfully referencing the contradictions of her experience as a female Somali-Canadian artist. “I’m constantly being mistaken for a ballerina,” she says, “but actually, I was a competitive soccer player for most of my life.”
David (Jhave) Johnston’s new media works also poke fun at human failure. As online digital poetry, they incorporate various forms of artificial intelligence. In Spam Heart, computationally tractable poetry is composed of both familiar aphorisms and words harvested from spam websites. Johnston does not rely on traditional poetic tropes to give his work meaning; rather, he allows the ‘object’ (word) to speak for itself, to draw us in toward nonsensical, often hilarious realizations.
Recent Concordia MFA-graduate Anna Jane McIntyre explores the ways that people decipher experience. Her miniature and self-propelled Ferris Wheel transforms the exhibit into a strange and discordant fairground, one in which human scale has been disregarded. Like the other artists in this exhibition, she juxtaposes, transforms and interrogates popular images in an effort to destabilize her viewers, making us both uncomfortable and exhilarated.
Nathalie Quagliotto, who has most recently exhibited at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, Michigan, works from the concept of play as an aesthetic form. Her Maturity Bend, a semi-functional playground ‘slide’ sculpture, is irresistible, touchable and kinetic. Maturity Bend’ makes us try and fail; we must interact with it as children, even as we feel the harsh realities of being grown-up.
Studio Béluga is a collectively run art space established with the goal of facilitating the emergent practices of artists and curators. It strives to generate new opportunities and foster collaborations across disciplines through programming which includes exhibitions, thematic and self-directed residencies, and public events. Since its inception in January 2009, Studio Béluga has been pushing the boundaries of art production, display and experience. For more information please visit www.studiobeluga.ca .
* Quoting Ludwig Wittgenstein