Kika Thorne, medicine, 2009/12, elastic cord, hardware
Known as a filmmaker before she left this town to head west and do an MFA, Kika Thorne has returned as a sculptor in the sense that her work is made of stuff and takes up space. Then again, it doesn't take too much grey matter to realize a movie is made of stuff (light) and takes up space (the projection beam), and then to link that with the single immersive work that makes up (and takes up) her current exhibition at G Gallery (a newish location for an older zone with links to the School of Fine Arts and Music at the University of Guelph as well as, in this case, Vancouver's CSA Space, the Art Gallery of Windsor, and York University). The entrance is the screen (which makes you the star) and you move against the current, following an array of elastic cords that contract around you as you and they approach a small circular opening in the far wall. The underlined final syllable in the artist's title, medicine, makes it clear that she is aware of the parallels. And then a text by Adrian Blackwell (available in poster form and something you should wait to read until after you've experienced the work) picks up that thread and follows it through an encyclopedic reading that covers everything I'd have to say about it and then some.
Emily Vey Duke & Cooper Battersby
Despite the ambition promised by the title, Here is Everything, and the impressive opening quote from Dostoevsky, Cooper Battersby acknowledges right off the bat that, while their intents are to stop fucking around with short films and get serious, this new film by him and his partner Emily Vey Duke is probably not going to be the all-encompassing art work they hoped for. Still, it's worth the trip to gallerywest to watch a bunch of times (Duke and Battersby's films are so tightly edited and densely, yet elliptically crafted that I always end up viewing them multiple times when I first see them, which is definitely not something I say about most video installations), and to peruse a selection of their sculptures and works on paper. The film itself manages to cram in thoughts on novel reading, empathy, mortality, end times, nature, reincarnation, pain, bees, sex, and money in a few minutes. And then it ends with Duke voicing her apology for failing to live up to the title before adding, "We hope it contains some of your everything." This aesthetic of failure is one these two have explored throughout their career together. They've been quite successful at it (as Samuel Beckett says, "Try again. Fail again. Fail better."), and you can read all about it in a new book that examines close to everything you'd imagine about their work, including, it must be admitted, a short essay by me.
G Gallery: http://sidecentre.com/index.html
Kika Thorne: medicine continues until August 12.
Emily Vey Duke & Cooper Battersby: Pain Shall Be No More continues until July 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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