I am currently in the process of moving into my new residence in Brooklyn - it is a long and ardous process which began several weeks ago, and will continue through June and into the brooding heat of July. As a result posts have been and will continue to be infrequent/non-existent. Here is a link to a 360 degree tour of the work of Niall McClelland and I that is currently on exhibit at LE Gallery. My father put the images together. The show is up until the 2nd of June, although I'm sure anyone reading this who is in or near Toronto has already seen the work. You can view photos of the opening on Niall's blog here. Since my Artist's Statement is not available anywhere else on the internet, I am posting it here. Here is my Artist's Statement (unabridged):
My work for this exhibition involves art that is presented in the form of books, layer paintings, and high context installation, all of which I feel share common ground in their packaging. I have put the majority of my effort into providing the art’s packaging with a great deal of impact by including all of the necessary ingredients to allow you, the viewer, upon first impression, to take from the work the most concise amount of information that I am able to provide you with, and to continue the story of each work as you proceed further into examining its content. I am interested in providing you with work that is efficient in its use of time and space. I am not interested in providing you with the burden of my compulsion for line and shape and representation (for burden it would be were I to force you to view all of my ghosts or all of my growing forms or all of the elements of my writing desk at the same time on a single surface); rather, I would like to provide you with the opportunity to take what you can from my work for the amount of time that you are willing to spend with it, and to use your imagination to consecrate the experience. Although some of the innards of the works you see before you might be more difficult to access than others (for instance, it is impossible for you to physically remove the tabbed layers in the layer paintings without attracting attention, as the pieces are behind glass), I’ve made an effort to provide you with enough information to understand what charges the surfaces you see before you. The contemporary political philosopher Jaques Rancier has framed the challenge of contemporary art as ‘knowing what kinds of surfaces to construct in order to disrupt the normal functioning of surfaces and depths”, and although I only recently read these words, I certainly take them to heart.
Here is a brief synopsis of each group of work, starting with the most universal and ending with the most personal:
The layer paintings – Recordings and Observations - are an effort to engage objectively in a process which is obviously subjective, as even the most automatic drawing requires the intuitive motion of putting tool to paper and marking the surface. These pieces also work to efficiently exhibit a series of pieces within a single, highly charged work. The pieces explore growth as a fact of life, confront traditional concepts of animation, and try to achieve mindful balance by filling gestural outlines with a linear grid. The recordings and observations are behind glass to challenge the psychology of the viewer and not the physical temptation to refrain from pulling tabs and demonstrating the ephemeral qualities of the work.
The Books - Portraits of the Dead - are an exercise in figuratively representing statistics of human casualties without wholly personalizing/individualizing them. I believe this is the most human way to consider the impact of violent conflict without doting on something that we cannot intrinsically understand without having been personally affected by the violence (by either having experienced violent conflict firsthand or having an attachment to someone who has). Although these casualties often spawn from unnecessary military action, these deaths are not in vain, as they lead us to understand the severity of the repercussions for our commitment of troops to theatres of conflict. The causalities I chose to represent were chosen with consideration towards the comparison of significant human loses over contrasting periods of time, the importance of engaging in a concerted effort to criticize certain conflicts, and the amount of casualties I felt I could successfully represented in the time available to me.
The high context installation - Artist’s Desk - is the most concise portion of my life that occupies a tangible space, and is primarily a reaction to the notion of art as simulacra, although it also serves other functions. I have given this installation the prefix of high context, as it is looks to allow you to internalize the sate of culture through the act of viewing the piece, and this relationship can develop further the longer you spend with the piece (this is pretty much the same thing I wrote about earlier; all of my works here in this show fall under the category of high context art). This desk contains the majority of the small things that carry great importance to me, which I have collected over many years. I have committed myself to putting a price on these most important things; they are not, in fact, invaluable. In intimating that no material items are invaluable, no matter how unique, I am putting a price tag on life as property. Since I have all the things I need to live in relative comfort, the concept of marginal utility (the idea that things that are more luxurious become more valuable as things that are necessary become more abundantly available) allows me to equate my writing desk (full of objects that would prove useless for survival, save for perhaps my waterproof pelican camera case, my many unused prophylactics, and perhaps, if I had a walkman and a lifetime supply of batteries, the mix tapes made by old girlfriends and my copy of ‘Surf’s Up Dude’ – the first cassette, I ever bought, were I to find myself on a desert island) to an income of $1000 per week for an entire year, which I, being a human who values ‘things’, feel is reasonable compensation for these sentimental bric a brac. The gallery in this case also functions as a temporary storage facility for my desk, as I am in the process of moving from Toronto to New York City, and my car is already full.
I hope this summary has provided for you some insight into my reasons for producing and exhibiting the works you see here. I am sure you will also find your own reasons to appreciate or deplore the work.