Circle Imitating Square and Square Imitating Circle are two of the works in Suzie Smith's exhibition To Break and To Build, which is currently on display at aceartinc. in Winnipeg. In each of these lithographs, a shape is outlined in black on folded paper. It is difficult to tell how the image was made since all we see is the final result of the process that Smith developed for these works. She begins with a shape printed on a large sheet of paper, and then folds it repeatedly until it turns into something else. What we see is not the folded paper sculpture itself, but a scanned print. In other works, Smith creates squiggles, exes, and arrows out of a single line. She discards her paper sculptures after scanning, opting to display the traces of her transformations in two-dimensional form.
Suzie Smith, Square Imitating Circle, lithograph
There are three-dimensional works in the exhibition as well: a pile of bricks and a pile of hammers, all made of silkscreen prints. In her artist talk, Smith revealed the diagram that was used to build each object; it was a complicated array of lines and shapes that needed to be folded and stuck together. Smith cites the multiples of Felix Gonzales-Torres as inspiration for these works. Although her paper objects are not free for the taking, they bring up similar questions regarding authenticity, originality, and the production of consumer objects.
Also included in the show is a series of second-hand records that Smith has transformed by covering certain areas and revealing others through screen-printing. Burl Ives' face becomes a spooky mask with blacked out eyes, while other record covers depict figures, faces, or body parts that are isolated or recontextualized. On another wall of the gallery, fifteen of the same record are shown together; the man on the cover of each one holds a long rope instead of a conductor's baton. This is an ongoing work, and will grow whenever Smith finds this particular record at a secondhand shop.
Past projects by Smith include Art Hive, an art vending machine selling prints of other artists' work (created in collaboration with Angela Forget), and Action Figures, which are screen-printed dolls of Frida Kahlo, Missy Elliott, and other individuals who have inspired her. In To Break and To Build, she explores similar ideas around artistic labour, creative production and multiples, but in this case, her attention is focused on fundamental elements of image making: line and shape, creation and deconstruction, hiding and revealing.
The idiosyncratic processes developed through these works are especially fascinating. With the record series, found items of popular culture become the building blocks with which new images and associations are formed. In the lithographs, a new pattern of folds emerges through each of the paper sculptures, resulting in an irrational origami. The works are at once playful and reflective, and suggest an approach to art making concerned not with radical invention, but with the endless number of ways an image or object can be taken apart and put back together again to form new meaning.
Suzie Smith: To Break and To Build continues until July 26th.
Noni Brynjolson is a writer and curator from Winnipeg whose work has been published in journals, exhibition catalogues, blogs, and zines. She is a recent graduate of the Master's program in Art History at Concordia University in Montreal and currently works as the Distribution Coordinator at the Winnipeg Film Group. She is Akimblog's Winnipeg correspondent and can be followed @NoniBrynjolson on Twitter.
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