Howie Tsui: Friendly Fire
Agnes Etherington Art Centre
Howie Tsui: Friendly Fire Cabinet
Museum of Health Care at Kingston
5 May – 3 September 2012
Engaging the power of the artist as storyteller and synthesizer, this exhibition draws on artist Howie Tsui's investigation of health and medicine during the War of 1812, setting these within the wider span of history and its cultures of war. A collaborative project developed with Kingston's Museum of Health Care, the installation includes the field-surgery kit of Dr. Henry Grasett, Surgeon-in-Chief to the British forces in 1814, and other treatment artifacts and medicines from the Museum's holdings, along with a series of new works by Tsui.
Friendly Fire offers a devastatingly wry commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The conflict is often presented as a defining moment in our national history, but by interpreting it through the lens of medical history, Tsui brazenly accesses the experiences of the American, British and Aboriginal forces on a more intimate level. The Grasett field-surgery kit provided the jumping off point for his exploration of the medical, ethical and ethno-political dimensions of the conflict. Through a series of sculptures and drawings—including the functional re-themed pinball machine Musketball!—the exhibition illuminates the brutal conditions of the body in war and the medicinal techniques of the period, and touches on the war's suppressed aspects including self-injury and the manipulation of Aboriginal allies.
Howie Tsui is an Ottawa-based artist. Best known for his fantastical scroll drawings and "spectral residue" wall drawings, he has in recent years used multi-media installations and dramatic lighting effects to create experiential environments. He draws on his childhood trajectory from Hong Kong to Lagos, Nigeria, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and beyond, weaving the forms and references of popular culture with deep-seated mythologies and iconographies of Asian and Euro-American traditions.
A complementary research cabinet exhibition of the artist's drawings and source imagery is on view at the Museum of Health Care, located nearby, in the Ann Baillie Building National Historic Site, 32 George St., Kingston.
This project is jointly curated by Jan Allen, Chief Curator/Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Centre and Pamela Peacock, Curator at the Museum of Health Care at Kingston. Former Museum Curator Paul Robertson played a crucial role in instigating this collaboration: our special thanks are extended to him. Howie Tsui: Friendly Fire and Cabinet will be documented in a publication with essays by Jan Allen, Steven Loft and Paul Robertson, planned for release in September 2012.
Please join us for a reception on Saturday 12 May, from 5 to 7 pm, celebrating Howie Tsui: Friendly Fire, Howie Tsui: Friendly Fire Cabinet and the exhibition Art, Elegance and Hospitality: The War of 1812. The reception follows an afternoon of engaging specialist talks: "Beyond the Battlefield: The World of 1812" (1–5pm) includes an illustrated presentation by Howie Tsui.
This exhibition is presented with the financial assistance of the City of Kingston Arts Fund, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. Media sponsor: The Kingston Whig Standard.
For more information, please call Heather Saunders at 613.533.2190 or visit http://www.aeac.ca
Image: Howie Tsui, Siamese Vascular Tree, 2011, digital print. Adaptation based on original work by Ephraim Chambers in Cyclopaedia: or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (1728). Courtesy of the artist.
Agnes Etherington Art Centre
Queen's University | Kingston ON | K7L 3N6
T: 613.533.2190 | F: 613.533.6765 | www.aeac.ca