KC x YTB x KPS
October 15 to November 12
YI XIN TONG
Strange New Health
Strange New Health (exhibition essay excerpt) by Jacquelyn Ross
I watch you from the window as you struggle to blow up a large inflatable pool with a bicycle pump. You haven’t figured out yet that you need a different attachment. Now it’s cloudy outside, the weather changed yesterday, and though it’s the wrong temperature for a swim you’re too stubborn to go back on what you said you would do. An idea for a music video. Soggy pizza slices, ambient electronica, images of water and light.
There’s something idyllic about gathering near bodies of water. An oasis in the desert of your formerly neglected yard, later we sit around the periphery of the pool drinking orange juice from a carton that has more sugar in it than we know. Watch the swishing of blue water against a brighter blue plastic. The slow, becoming-blue sky over an un-blue fence. An aerial view of the neighbourhood reveals a landscape dotted with trampolines and swimming pools, like shoddy punctuation marks enlivening a relentless grid. So many clumsy backyard monuments fulfilling a need for movement in a stagnant place – props for jumping or diving; for catching air, or becoming submerged. A series of tiny, parallel escapes. Tropicana. Americana.
Some friends you’ve invited to be in the video sit on the steps of the deck wearing black lipstick and vintage Adidas, nylon sportswear and mesh. Health goths who laugh palely from the fringe of the pool and litter the ground with empty packs of cigarettes – those ones with the grotesque health advisories on the boxes showing images of deformed babies, rotting teeth and gums. I’d like to bum a smoke from them but am too shy to approach. If I could, I would start by complimenting the girl in the white tee shirt: the one with the upside-down Nike checkmark and the words I Just Can’t. How clever.
Jacquelyn Ross is a writer and critic based in Toronto, Canada. Her writing has appeared in Mousse, The Bartleby Review, C Magazine, The Capilano Review, artforum.com, and elsewhere. She publishes books by emerging artists and writers under the small press Blank Cheque, and is currently at work on her first collection of short stories.
Strange New Health will be remounted in its entirety in a curated exhibition by Zhang Jianling and Guo Xi for Long March Space (Beijing), one of the top galleries in China, early this December.
TAU LEWIS, SARA KAY MASTON, CALLUM SCHUSTER, LUKE SIEMENS
MARJAN VERSTAPPEN and HUMBOLDT MAGNUSSEN
Fresh Constructions (curatorial statement) by Marjan Verstappen and Humboldt Magnussen
Tau Lewis, Sara Kay Maston, Callum Schuster, and Luke Siemens explore the materiality of the built environment, and the fragments of wilderness folded into our daily life. Fresh Constructions is a selection of work by four emerging artists that use both natural and manufactured materials to speak to the state of “nature” in an urban setting.
As humans, the need to incorporate nature into our built environment leads to a processing and refining of “natural” imagery and materials – churning lime into cement, petroleum into resin, and tigers into cats. Imagine an ecologist conducting a study of ecological diversity in your neighbourhood – how many cats, goldfish, peace lilies, and cacti would they find … how have they come to be here?
This exhibition features materials and imagery that question the authenticity of the dichotomy conflated between the manufactured and the “natural.” It investigates how our domesticated environment, including plants and animals, assert their influence over us, rather than how we assert our influence over them.
The chipboard pot plant, the resin cactus, the psychedelic budgerigar, the preserved rose fragments; how do artists in an urban environment work with these reprocessed materials and images? In this exhibition, our built environment is overgrown with organic elements.
The dichotomy between the human-made and the natural constantly is being eroded. Inescapably intertwined from the products and habits of our domestic lives, we seek escape through an experience of “nature.” This exhibition asks: where does the wilderness end and the “human-made” ecosystem begin?
KONTORT PROJECT SPACE
Portraiture (project description) by Mary Baxter
At the centre of Portraiture is a small, white cartoon-like figurine manufactured by the Wallace Berrie & Co. The smiling figure stretches its arms Christ-like and wears a long shirt that reaches its bare feet. The figure’s eyes focus upward, as if in prayer. On the figure’s mouth, Geleynse projects human lips that move in tandem with a sound recording of the artist’s voice describing himself by using the carefully edited words of others. The descriptions are often mocking and derisive but also humorous. “If he ever had a bright idea, it would be beginner’s luck,” the recording woefully pronounces. “His imagination is his curse. His heart is in the right place, though his brain isn’t.”
Mary Baxter is the editor of Morelmag.ca and a contributing editor of Better Farming magazine, the largest circulating farm magazine in Ontario and Canada’s top website for online farm news. This excerpt is from Mary’s MOREL interview with Wyn.
Yi Xin Tong is a New York based artist, amateur fisherman, and subscriber to Kmart newsletters. Tong makes multimedia installations, site-responsive works, Internet projects, music, and books. He received his MFA from New York University, and BFA Honours from Simon Fraser University. His work has been shown at the: Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, 80WSE Gallery, Vanguard Gallery, Hanart TZ Gallery, Galerie de La Rotonde de Stalingrad, and VIVO Media Arts Centre. He received Joan Mitchell Foundation Scholarship, Takao Tanabe Award in Visual Arts, British Columbia Arts Council Scholarships, Orange Corporation Annual Award in Visual Arts, and the May and Samuel Rudin Foundation Multimedia Technology Scholarship. Tong was the British Columbia winner of the BMO 1st Art Award in 2012, and a finalist for Equitable Bank’s Emerging Digital Artists Award in 2015.
Tau Lewis is a 22-year-old self-taught sculptor and mixed media artist. Lewis’ sculptures are infused with byproducts (recycled material, personal items/likeness) to construct a political image. Lewis uses materials varied by natural, plant-based, and man-made origins to simulate living things; in doing so, she creates life-like sculptures that explore the physical boundaries between artificial and natural objects. Her work is bodily and organic, with an explicit strangeness and subtle morbidity. Thematically, Lewis' work carries strong feminist themes. Lewis explores black beauty, identity politics, and African diaspora. Her most recent work interrogates the appropriation of urban black bodies and landscapes. Lewis is a Jamaican-Canadian artist, currently living and working in Toronto, Ontario.
Sara Kay Maston completed her BFA in Art History and Studio Art at Concordia University. While living in Montreal, she worked as the Administrative Coordinator for the Art Matters Festival, and she was also the Editor-in-Chief of the independent arts and literature magazine Casino. Returning to her hometown of Toronto, Maston became Project Facilitator for the Graffiti Transformation Project, designing and painting murals with inner-city youth in communities throughout the GTA. Sara has exhibited in several galleries throughout Montreal and Toronto, including the FOFA gallery in Montreal, and the Gardiner Museum Toronto. In a recent collaborative project, she produced a painted sculpture commissioned for public display during the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games. Maston currently is completing her MFA at York University, and lives in Toronto where she maintains a multidisciplinary studio practice focused in painting and ceramics.
Callum Schuster graduated from OCADU's Drawing and Painting program in 2011. His work has been exhibited in a number of solo and group exhibitions, including: Palindrome Dome Metronome Home at O'Born Contemporary (Toronto), More Than Two (curated by Micah Lexier) at The Power Plant (Toronto), an off-site exhibition at the Havana Biennale, as well as public installations for the City of Toronto's Nuit Blanche and WayHome Music and Arts Festival. Schuster has an upcoming show with Galerie Anita Beckers in Frankfurt in 2017.
Luke Siemens (MFA, York University, 2012) lives and practices in Toronto, creating work in drawing and digital medias, which explores the contradictions between the structure of the built environment and the facade of its presentation. His work has shown nationally from Saskatoon, to Montreal, and Toronto. Luke has been a sessional instructor at OCADU since 2013.
Wyn Geleynse is considered a pioneer in multimedia artistic practices in Canada, with a career in film and video spanning nearly three decades. He emigrated from Rotterdam to London, ON, with his parents in 1953. Growing up in London at a time when the so-called “London regional school” was burgeoning – a vernacular art movement that thrived in the city through the 1970s and 1980s – had a direct impact on Geleynse’s development as an artist, who cites London-based artists Greg Curnoe (deceased) and Murray Favro as major influences. Geleynse’s first artistic efforts were in printmaking, then painting; he studied lithography under Helmut Becker in 1972. In 1979, Geleynse embarked on an entirely new artistic direction which combined an interest in 3D model-making with the 2D qualities of photography. Since 1981, the artist has been integrating film into this process, creating installation-based works in which short films loops have been projected against a host of fabricated items: a large-scale model airplane, bedroom furniture, framed photographs, and other elements emblematic of various themes including childhood, domesticity, selfhood, and the boundaries between public and private. Of late, the artist’s multimedia practice has begun using digital editing techniques, and it has always applied the invention of custom film loopers, viewfinders and other objects to mediate the viewer’s reception of the image. Geleynse often uses biographical footage and source materials from childhood, references that conjure the psychological spaces of memory – real and imagined, collective and individual – and play off the nostalgic response that is often associated with photographs and films, especially those of family and friends. As his projections adapts to their personal and intimate surroundings, Geleynse’s works subvert a straightforward reception of the filmic image, forcing reconciliation with the existential power of cinematic conventions in “framing” the boundaries of subjective experience. – Jonathan Shaughnessy, excerpt from Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, Vol. 51, 2006, pg. 192.