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Winnipeg
Steven Leyden Cochrane
Erika Dueck at the University of Manitoba School of Art Gallery, Winnipeg
July 21, 2015

Erika Dueck’s The Ephemeral Mind stood out among a notably large and accomplished cohort at the University of Manitoba’s 2013 BFA Exhibition. Her imposing crumpled-paper pendant, which went on to win top honours in BMO’s student art competition that year, was lit from inside to reveal a warren of minutely detailed, alarmingly disordered miniature studio spaces. It was a potent illustration of unruly memory and mental clutter. Now an MFA candidate at Guelph, Dueck makes a brief homecoming this month at UM’s School of Art Gallery. With a trio of new sculptures, she continues to construct scale interiors that give tangible form to her “ephemeral mind,” but, rather than relying on allegory as before, the new works engage with the phenomenology of inward experience directly, if not exactly head-on. It is a critical and confounding step forward.



Erika Dueck, In Between Spaces, 2015, installation view

Untitled (Tower #1), (#2), and (#3) are rickety-looking, chest-high, foam-core periscopes, their outsides a mess of openings and tangled wires. At the top of each, a mirror angled 45° sends our gaze plunging down inside the column, even as we perceive ourselves looking ahead into a series of uncannily lifelike hallways. As “In Between Spaces” (the title of the exhibition), Dueck’s anonymous corridors seem appropriate settings for an inquiry into uncertainty. Further burnishing the analogy, the depicted architecture is itself compromised: one hallway is under construction, another half-demolished, while vegetation and crystal “boulders” erupt through the walls of a third.

Still, it’s the simple, finely-executed illusion – made all the more disorienting by our awareness of its mechanics – and its vertiginous realignment of our perspective that pulls the work out of its metaphorical and analytical register (and us with it). We aren’t just made to understand Dueck’s doubt; we feel it, if queasily.

In a happy bit of synchronicity, fellow 2013 Manitoba graduate Rowan Gray will be exhibiting work across town at the University of Winnipeg’s Gallery 1C03 early next month. Gray’s simultaneously lush and withholding installation at the aforementioned BFA show was another favourite of mine. Since graduating she’s distinguished herself as a director of C Space here in Winnipeg. A (+) Grace comes out of a yearlong mentorship with Video Pool director Melentie Pandilovski. The installation, which will incorporate a multi-speaker sound environment and video projected through copper mesh onto a concave screen, will aim to deconstruct perception as it relates to sound and music. The exhibition is set to run August 6 to 8.


University of Manitoba School of Art Gallery: http://umanitoba.ca/schools/art/772.html
Erika Dueck: In Between Spaces runs until July 31


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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