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Terence Dick
Karilee Fuglem at Pierre-Francois Ouellette Art Contemporain
February 25, 2016

I was looking out of my office window, trying to gauge how heavy the rain was and how soaked I'd get if I ventured out in it. What had been snow was now drizzle and I stared at the empty space between me and a nearby building to focus on the rain as it flew by, searching to locate the individual drops mid-air. A couple hours later, moistened but not drenched, I found a parallel to that inquisitive squinting as I sat in Karilee Fuglem's tiny exhibition at the Toronto office of Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain. I shouldn’t have been surprised by this, given that the images on the gallery's website of her current work reveal nothing except a lot of white space and a vague sense of lightweight material. The postcard promoting the exhibition is white lines on white. I don’t mean this as a criticism, but there isn’t much there.

Karilee Fuglem, vie étendue (feelers), 2015-2016, polyester, nylon thread, steel wire, paper

More so than most, Fuglem’s art happens in the space around it and the concrete material that ends up in the gallery is literally just a medium. The matter of her art is air and light, the movement of one and the reflection of the other. Much like my earlier attempts to discern atmospheric conditions, my efforts to see her work required weaving around it and looking at it from different angles. The main piece, vie étendue (feelers), has a lot in common with a rain shower and the verticals strips of Mylar glisten and disappear like so many water drops caught on film. The wires hovering over them together form a cloud, but could also be lightning rods or fragile twigs.

Physical interpretations are boring though, so I searched for metaphysical truths in these ephemeral experiences. The stage light that turns on and off at long intervals marks the passage of time and the assembled strips resemble a gathering but not of anything material. Glinting light, wavering reflections, and unexpected shadows appear briefly and then sink back into twilight. The conditions of the work demand silence and deceleration. Each one works as a tool on the viewer, drawing them in, and then leaving them in quiet contemplation, not unlike the weather patterns that bring us back to the everyday.

Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain:
Karilee Fuglem: What I see each moment I’ve never seen before continues until February 27.

Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.



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