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Kim Neudorf
Maggie Groat & Barbara Hobot at Elora Centre for the Arts
July 22, 2014

Untitled (the possibilities of voids and the sentience of things) at Elora Centre for the Arts features the work of Maggie Groat and Barbara Hobot, a pairing which curator Tarin Hughes attributes to a shared interest in “considering the form, function and life” of objects. Referring to the writing of Elaine Scarry, Hughes relates the life of a flower to the rebelliousness of imagination and its evocations of an alternative truth. Scarry suggests that this “truth”, more akin to mimicry, competes with the objects of study in its ability to inform and reveal.

From left: Maggie Groat, Field Chair, 2014; Triangular Study Shelf (with glass for drinking the water of Lake Ontario, wire and copper dowsing rods, woven field bag, proposal for wildflower field, other found and assembled field tools), 2014; Hierochloe Ordorata, 2014; The Living Rocks, 2013; Recharger, 2014. Barbara Hobot, Two Stones, 2012. (photo: Jimmy Limit)

Groat’s collages, prints, photographs, and collections of objects propose thinking through the associated histories of their found, salvaged, and handmade qualities as a configuration of findings-as-tools for future use. Objects and images proliferate in acts of mirroring (suspended sweet grass hovers above a “pool” of glass; images of textures, tones, and shapes become camouflaged in a mass/group gesture of shared form) or behave as remnants of archaic rituals, now laid out as artifacts where gaps and holes (physical and historical) wait to be filled or entered.

The objects/tools/rituals of origin are similarly left hanging in Hobot’s work, but are often grounded in works on paper in which “found” qualities are more essence than fragment. Where Groat salvages and reinterprets, Hobot offers drawings and paper constructions where remnant, material, and gesture are interchangeable. A wall piece of hand-cut paper hangs in wide-mouthed curls resembling tree-bark or, as its title suggests, the iconic curves of the Guggenheim, and while this form invites closer scrutiny of its interior, the larger “body” of its papery loop, bulge, and gravity gesture towards a motion or logic not tied definitively to anything outside of itself. Similarly, a small acrylic drawing offers a single shard in a center of white, the shard painted to resemble the texture of wood, wherein its looping grain pulls the shard off course; the sharp angle, the “woodness”, and the mimicry of collage are gestures that make up the distinctness of the drawing and its own particular “truth”.

The performance of artworks in Untitled, whether of a found object repurposed or of the reinscription of the qualities of an object, brings out the similarities and, more often, differences between the work of Groat and Hobot. The pairing is not always successful, although this is not necessarily the fault of the work. The exhibition space is often problematic, as wall works (a large majority of the exhibition) compete with a multitude of windows, doorways, and various other obstructions, leaving me wondering if maybe less would have been more. Despite this, there are many smaller moments that hint at “the reality that lies beyond” via the logic of materials: in the ribbed scrawl or trail of a worm mid-collage, or the path of chain links knitted in tight lines, monitored and measured in white ink on purple velum. These moments are, as Polish writer Bruno Schulz wrote, less of flowers and more of the invisibility of errant growth: “Lifelessness is only a disguise behind which hide unknown forms of life.”

Elora Centre for the Arts:
Maggie Groat & Barbara Hobot: Untitled (the possibilities of voids and the sentience of things) continues until September 7.

Kim Neudorf is an artist and writer currently living in London, Ontario. Her paintings have shown widely in Alberta and at Susan Hobbs Gallery in Toronto. She has contributed writing most recently to Susan Hobbs Gallery, Cooper Cole Gallery, Forest City Gallery, and Evans Contemporary Gallery. She is Akimbo's London correspondent and can be followed @KimNeudorf on Twitter.



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