Thursday, June 27, 2002 to Thursday, August 8, 2002

    • Thursday, June 27, 2002
    Fluid is a proposition; the exhibition invites us to question what it means to live between fluid relations and dimensions through the work of eight emerging artists. Fluidity in relation to the body involves its leaking, its loss, its interior relation to identity, fluidity often signifies states within transition: drifting pleasures, the inundation of memories, circulatory desires. Rather than grid-locking position or location into overarching ideological frameworks and binary logic, positionality is conceived in Fluid as coinciding with its own transition; terms folding into each other resonating together, interfering with each other, all in unquantifiable ways apt to unfold again in action, often unpredictably. A number of artists in the exhibition explore fluidity as a visual metaphor in its relationship to identity, especially where the body meets the image. In Phil Rose's video installation based on the genre of self-portraits, fleeting glimpses and extended moments trace, obliterate, strike and cancel a multiplicity of layered images and sounds. These unstable passages of malleable rhythms signify how representation has proved itself to be a remarkably elastic category; more open than closed, complex and overfull of phantasmic residues. Rose's work short-circuits the linearity of language by materializing instantaneous and spatially full images whose meanings often exceed language's power to describe them, thereby displacing the assumed "completeness" of representation. Luc Desjardins also works with visual slippages and the capacity of video to "picture" ambiguities. Refusing his various theatrical posturings, staged in front of mirrors and on hockey trophies, to be reduced to a single image or notion of masculinity, he physically and facially slides into the reflections in these charged artefacts in order to layer their inflated histories and significations. The space of fecund ambiguity where notions of fluidity and identity overlap is also where the body meets the image in Elizabeth Garlicki's large pool-blue tarp series depicting figures swimming/drowning. Without a life jacket, the bodies in these images practice drownproofing techniques; forced to hang onto the possibility of rescue. Because the relationship between figure and ground is compromised, the viewer is placed within the pool of water, sharing the aqueous environment of the figures. Evoking yet erasing its specificity of trauma, the tarp series evokes a charged yet limitless threshold. The acts of inflation and deflation also occur outside the gallery on the exhibition's opening day and night with a performance by the flators. As an unexpected encounter in the streets of Ottawa, a thin-membraned inflatable car occupies the public parking spaces reserved for it's iconic proto-type. Vulnerable to touch vibrations and slight air movements, the nylon car tremors and dissolves notions of "the real," as well as rigid concepts of action and mobility. A number of artists creating site-specific installations in Gallery 101 express the need to look at movements in order to bring their ideas to form. Presented as independently developing and mutually intersecting, the boundaries within the architecture are perceived by these artists not as fixed, but permeable, the frameworks and vessels that define these human processes being in themselves mutable. The works therefore unfold experimentally; effectively, they focus on intensely lived relationships. Exploring notions of being unattached to a site in the building, the installations of Yeh and Rewacowicz enter the space of infinite (trans)formation. In the work of Pao Quang Yeh, folded origami boats from fairy tale books are released from their tidal forces and swim their way towards the heating vents (another darkened passageway) located under the stairs of the building - mediating a directional course potentially too small for most of the craft to navigate in their existing form. Yeh's engagement with the tangled yet invisible forces of the currents which steer the boats and fill their sails, forces the viewer to wonder if many of the over 1,000 fragile boats caught somewhere within formless networks of desires and invisible exchanges will reach their destination. Ana Rewacowicz's slowly disappearing video projection of a female body onto a pool of water in the washroom sink, arrives and leaves at the status of a ripple. Combined with the sound of draining water, these undulations represent all that is left to describe a collection of fragmented memories; thoughts travel on and down the sink's pipes and evaporate through the shimmer of the ripple on the water's surface. Fluid offers the opportunity to present the architectural space of Gallery 101 as a technology of movement, as a flexible membrane where formative and structural potentialities are revealed. Mohammed al-Riffai's interest in the exploration of temporal and experiential qualities of sound has resulted in the sound installation which inhabits the gallery's front stairwell and beyond. Here the 'reality’ of form is presented as the manifestation of movement inside and throughout a dynamic process, one which denies a chronic state of being. In al-Riffai's performance using a latex membrane cylindrical drum, acoustic and vibrational energies produce a kinetic display wherein unforeseen forms and configurations emerge not by design, but through sensation. Further interventions within the gallery, such as Catherine Bodmer's vaporizers misting the scent of "BOUNCE" fabric refresher through multiple vents, were part of the initial planning of this exhibition. Before going to print, however, the artist was presented with the news that she could not exhibit this proposal. Up against the very discourses which feed into the work, the situation of Bodmer's work began to echo the cultural obsession with excessive cleanliness which attempts to eliminate that which is impure, the work appearing contaminated. Speaking loudly about personal limits of risk and their tolerance towards the unknown; the familiar scent of "BOUNCE" became "the Other." The course that Bodmer and her work has already taken in the exhibition so far is, to say the least, fluid: it has and continues to enter into and flow through the multiple logics of acceptability and permeability. The practices in this exhibition encourage us to take a fluid look at perception and lived experience. Space and architectural forms become seas of movements, revealed as spaces of infinite potential and possibility. The encounters between image and identity results in resonating flows between representation and the memories, habits and languages the body carries with it. Like the processes used to describe the passage of fluids into other states of existence, these practices drift and absorb, they divulge and evaporate, they congeal and saturate. Cindy Stelmackowich Fluid selection jury: Cathy Busby, Greg Hill, Amy Jenkins, laura jeanne lefave, Cindy Stelmackowich