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Ontario
Kim Neudorf
The Windsor-Essex Triennial at the Art Gallery of Windsor
November 18, 2014

Possible Futures: What is to be done?, the 2014 Windsor-Essex Triennial of Contemporary Art, frames its propositional title by themes of post-industrial and urban transformation (the changing landscape of), possible (sustainable) economies, and landmarks (enduring and makeshift) used by artists to re-orient working and living spaces for future use, even if only temporary. The exhibition involves not only the Art Gallery of Windsor, but four offsite venues located in Leamington, LaSalle, Ford City, and the Capital Theatre in Windsor. Out of necessity (tight scheduling owing to an equally tight window of viewing time), my visit focused mainly on those artists exhibiting at the AGW. My commute-woes aside, readers and visitors are encouraged to visit all the remaining venues to better map out the exhibition as a whole.

The original exhibition call asked for stories of survival amidst the changing socio-economic conditions of southwestern Ontario, Windsor-Essex and Detroit. On the third floor of the AGW, the exhibiting artists take up this request via signs, signals, plans, documents, and artifacts. Kiki Athanassiadis’ project Desire and the City: a citizen’s abandoned-lot design consultancy suggests that empty lots be used for: “useful short-cuts”, “other views”, “open, unintended and changing uses”, “imaginative play”, and “all of the above”. While visitors’ drawings and collage-like plans for these spaces shift between brightly-colored used-car lots, apocalyptic fire-pit/political platforms, and abandoned ghost-town sets, phrases like “open, unintended and changing uses” or “useful short-cuts” also read like knowing commentary on the conceptions of space proposed by other surrounding artists.



Ingrid Mayrhofer, Art S.E.A.L.S.

Amidst exhibition landmarks such as artist-duo Timeanddesire’s modified construction sign which points to an open and indeterminate destination, Mike Marcon’s shack-as-time-capsule, and collective TH&B’s bright layered core sample of destined-for-the-landfill trash, other artists take up markers and documents of survival in more unexpected ways. Situated between larger works, Collette Broeders’ large durational drawings are alive with tightly coiled marks that document the reach and arcs of her body; the resulting drawings resemble elegant nests or insect exoskeletons. Ingrid Mayrhofer’s wall-length pattern of Victorian flowers, made as part of the performance series Art S.E.A.L.S. (Skills Exchange And Learning Series), includes the tentative marks of visitors invited to fill in the ornate petals and stems. In another corner, a dusted, bluish-grey whetstone sits on a small plinth: a remnant from a performance by Barbara Hobot and Patrick Cull in which the artists cycled around Windsor offering knife-sharpening services. While cycling, the artists “invoked the protection of St. Catherine”, patron saint of all who use and wield spinning wheels. The whetstone, described by the artists as an “abrasive brick”, becomes a document of strokes and marks made by other means.



Corrie Baldauf, Frames for the People: A City of Halos

Leaving marks and offering skills in states and spaces of transition runs through several other artists’ works, including photographic documents of residents and local businesses in Hamilton (by Stephen Brookbank) and the enduring or temporary working and living spaces of artists in Detroit (by Christian Ernsten and Corine Vermeulen). While these photographic documents help ground these spaces in the midst of uncertainty, Corrie Baldauf’s video Frames for the People: A City of Halos is an attempt to record the fleeting interactions between artworks and surrounding Detroit. Her sheets of brightly colored acrylic are shown amidst various indoor and outdoor locations or physically carried or held by Detroit locals. Alongside the awkward, baffled, and silent ways individuals react to these encounters, Baldauf’s video allows for moments when the tinted acrylic and surrounding space transform each other in quietly inventive ways: dead greys and windy weather feed the breathing glow of abandoned blue shapes, the snow from a falling refrigerator becomes the trail of a meteorite, the reflecting sky reverberates behind an armchair, and the peeling bars of a jail cell become the inner architecture of a laboratory. Baldauf offers these temporary collaborations as gestures of possible ways of working and being together, while allowing the vulnerability and uneasiness between artist, artworks, and surrounding community to remain as a visible effect, shifting and troubling the state of each interaction.


The Art Gallery of Windsor: http://www.agw.ca/exhibitions/current/401
Possible Futures: What is to be done? continues until January 11.


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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