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Toronto
Terence Dick
Lauren Hall at Erin Stump Projects | Tegan Moore at Zalucky Contemporary
February 07, 2018

John Cage made the empty space of performance part of the composition with his “silent” piece 4’33”. The impact of that revolutionary gesture might be more evident in art galleries than in concert halls these days where installation, interventions and sound art are among the experiential offerings. Two different evocations of emptiness can be seen (felt? sensed?) at Erin Stump Projects and Zalucky Contemporary right now. Both exhibitions have a distant ancestor in Cage’s invitation to turn our senses elsewhere, though these artists re-route his Zen mindfulness and focus it on physicality – either that of our own bodies or the matter that filters the stuff-which-isn’t-there around us.



Lauren Hall, The Beats and the Shouting, 2018, installation view

Glasgow-based Canadian Lauren Hall alters ESP’s gallery environs dramatically by switching the clear fluorescent lights out for two shades of blue and placing a slow cooker with simmering scents near the entrance. Immediately we are in the work and, as we inhale, the work is within us. Crossword metal text works hint at underlying themes of the body and nature, but they are literally full of holes. A large installation in the rear draws visitors further inside. Salt drawings of the astrological symbol for Cancer line the floor beneath the subterranean glow. Salt is loaded with associations to the body – both living and preserved. You taste it on skin and put it on meat. Saline solutions flush out the body, but the salt water created by melting snow mixed with road salt will run into the tributaries that line the city and raise the level of sodium to the point where it harms the ecosystem. Spaces within spaces – the body in the gallery in the city – and they are all connected. Scattered among the looping symbols are fragmented metal joints that resemble crab claws or bones. All that remains on this desiccated surface are these hunks of once living things. The result should be morbid, but there’s a sense of calm throughout. Accepting our part of a larger order defined by chemistry and the elements is one way to deal with the emptiness inside.



Tegan Moore, Variations, 2018, installation view

The circulation of air through space is Tegan Moore’s obsession, but she explores it through sculptures that subtly resist that movement. She collects air filters, mesh wrapping, and porous stone, and then turns them into minimalist objects where their newfound aesthetic value usurps their functional purpose and they shift from being unseen into the realm of the visible. For her exhibition at Zalucky Contemporary, she has even intervened into the gallery architecture to extend an air duct into a brief spiral that foregrounds the network of tubes and channels linking our living spaces and echoes our internal ventilation. Each of her smaller works is similarly perforated throughout. As with Cage’s composition, it takes a moment to see the spaces between and within as equal to the solid matter that surrounds them, but what’s not there is just as important as what’s there. The lava rock and styrofoam are both airy and solid; they encompass a contradiction just like our bodies. We too are equal parts nothing and something.


Lauren Hall: The Beats and the Shouting continues until February 24.
Erin Stump Projects: http://erinstumpprojects.com/current-exhibitions
The gallery is not accessible.

Tegan Moore: Variations continues until February 10.
Zalucky Contemporary: http://zaluckycontemporary.com/
The gallery is not accessible.


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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