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Toronto
Terence Dick
Tamara Henderson at Erin Stump Projects | Coming to Terms at the Jackman Humanities Institute
January 07, 2014

After having spent the holidays holed up in a BC town whose most recent civic accomplishment in the name of culture was successfully rejecting a developer's proposal for a three-story building at the main (and only) intersection, I returned to Toronto this weekend to find my attempts to see some art hampered by everyone else's holiday hours and the common practice of opening new shows the first week of the new year. To tie up some loose ends, I've decided to write about an exhibition that just ended and one that opened a while ago but continues until the summer. We will return to the cutting edge next week.



Tamara Henderson & Jeannie Han, Gliding in on a Shrimp Sandwich

For an artist who was recently a shortlisted finalist in the Sobey Awards, Tamara Henderson has surprisingly not had a solo exhibition in this country until her recent appearance at Erin Stump Projects. She was the East Coast representative for the annual art prize, but despite her origins in Sackville, currently identifies as itinerant and has in fact racked up a bunch of gallery time in Europe (most likely due to her schooling in Stockholm and Frankfurt). Her practice is defined by a process drawing on research conducted while she's sleeping (which means her dreams, I guess), but resists any obvious tendencies towards the deep psychoanalysis of surrealism for a playful exploration of quirky objects and unexpected possibilities. The majority of the show was given over to paintings in a range of pastels and uncomfortable conjunctions of patterns and material that might fly with the everything-goes aesthetic of the hipster contingent, but turns off this old fuddy-duddy. The redeeming factor was a film loop (though I'm not sure why the artist went through the process of installing a looping 16mm projector other than that it's cool to have a looping 16mm projector) that projected a short film centred on what I'm assuming was a dream image of blown glass being cooled in a carved-out pineapple. I could have watched the scene of the molten glass bubble being inserted into the tropical fruit all afternoon. And to top it all off, there is a display of the resulting pineapple-interior-shaped glasses. That they look just like slightly malformed tumblers made the whole exercise all the more curious. Chalk this artist up as someone to continue to watch.



James Clar, Global English, 2011, eight acrylic and LED light boxes

Located at the top of an actual tower, though not one constructed of ivory, the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto is a place that hosts the kind of research into culture that conservative pundits like to publically ridicule as a waste of money (my response to that is an appeal to a friend whose graduate research in theoretical astrophysics had, he freely admitted, absolutely no practical purpose either). For those of us who find the pursuit of greater understanding an end in itself and have a particular affinity for the productive ambiguities of language, there is an exhibition up here amongst study carrels and conference zones worth searching out. Curated by John G. Hampton through the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Coming to Terms brings together seven artists who play with translation in a variety of ways. Some (Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay and Carl Trahan for example) are more successfully visual than others and they all are well lubricated by the kind of critical theory discourse that must distinguish most of the small and big talk that takes place in these halls. If that is your kind of thing, then it's worth the elevator ride up.


Erin Stump Projects: http://www.erinstumpprojects.com/index.html
See website for current exhibition.

Justina M. Barnicke Gallery: http://www.jmbgallery.ca/ExComingToTerms.html
Coming to Terms continues until June.


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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