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Winnipeg
Steven Leyden Cochrane
Cut-Up at Platform, Winnipeg
April 21, 2015

In a corner of PLATFORM set up to look like somebody’s shitty apartment, Ming Hon ate some donuts and ground other donuts into the floorboards last Friday night. She played records and danced sloppy/sexy against the wall, leaving tracks of greasy fingerprints. She scrabbled over piles of empties and busted cellphones looking for cigarettes. Finding a pack, she smoked them. She simulated masturbation, motioned to asphyxiate herself in one of several borrowed furs, and screamed. Garbage blew across the line of black tape separating her space from ours.



Ming Hon

Titled after the last line in Godard’s BreathlessPATRICIA: What is a ‘scumbag’? – the work’s intensity and voyeurism made less of an impact on me than its rote familiarity. Hon is an electrifying performer, but the setup might as well have been my own scumbag apartment in Windsor seven years ago, the performance an only-slightly-heightened sendup of my own scumbag routine. (Swap the fur coats for acrylic sweaters, and you get the picture, more or less. It was a difficult time. We own similar turntables.)

What can it mean to mount in a gallery an accelerated and aestheticized but, I’ll vouch, essentially faithful performance of mental illness and addiction? (Among the booze and cigarettes, junk food, and scratch-off tickets, “addiction” was the common thread.) And what can it mean to consider it, as the four-person group show Cut-Up asks us to, within a rubric of historical and contemporary collage practices? Certainly there are echoes of Höch and Schwitters, all shellshock and blowing trash, and over three hours Hon channeled the glassy-eyed hysterics who so captivated the Surrealists. For better or worse, however, the cutting gaze of art history casts the work in a more complex but less humane light, adding context but not clarity.

Billed as a collaboration between PLATFORM and critic Courtney R. Thompson, Cut-Up pieces together an expanded framework for “collage” that encompasses performance, installation, photography, and video. Any cutting and pasting is purely figurative, and, fittingly, the show refrains from smoothing out the seams in its logic or easing our transition from one disparate artist and methodology to the next.



Kelsey Braun

Kristan Horton’s frenzied scanner-bed animation, Haptic Sessions, extends and sanitizes Hon’s freeform arrangements, refusing any stable image or narrative, and refocusing our attention on collage’s tactile, temporal arrangement of objects. Kelsey Braun remixes 8mm family footage, projecting silent, grainy images onto a screen of milky water, agitated by a hidden speaker – the murky, synesthetic hodgepodge an elegant analogue of lived experience. Lisa Stinner-Kun’s serenely composed photographs of awkward transitions in formal gardens bring us back into the sphere of social mediation (with its appropriated material, collage is inherently collaborative and political), revealing an uncanny patchwork of public and private, manicured and feral spaces.

The positions, references, and comparisons that Cut-Up takes and makes are neither obvious nor arbitrary. It is a rare accomplishment for this kind of small-scale, medium-specific venture, and a rewarding one.


PLATFORM centre for photographic + digital arts: http://platformgallery.org/exhibition/cut-up/
Cut-Up continues until May 23.


Steven Leyden Cochrane is an artist, writer, and educator based in Winnipeg, where he contributes weekly exhibition reviews to the Free Press. He is Akimbo’s Winnipeg correspondent and can be followed @svlc_ on Twitter.

 

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