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Milena Placentile
Robert Taite at Negative Space
December 04, 2012

Passive observation of line, colour, and shape is rarely enough to hold my attention. I don't have anything against conceptual work concerned primarily with such formalism, but I am compelled to seek out and understand motivations. I am therefore a sucker for a good story—even if I have to make one up—because I need a route in. Lucky for me Robert Taite's exhibition Temporary Arrangements at Negative Space offers much to ponder.

Robert Taite, Temporary Arrangements installation view

Taite's works are neither functional nor intended to address the conventions of design. They are also not intended as discrete objects to be celebrated as individual works of art. Created on the basis of a predetermined logic, they are pieces to be built, arranged, and re-arranged in a behind-the-scenes process culminating in the formation of a built environment for viewers to navigate both spatially and perceptually. The twist comes in his bringing up questions about problem solving and supra-linguistic communication.

Early Minimalists favoured the crisp, uniform lines of mechanical production and wanted to obliterate evidence of human-making from their work—a point that has generally led me to find art stemming from that tradition cold and impersonal, maybe even sterile. Although similarly polished, with or without knowing Taite's process, Temporary Arrangements has something else going on.

Robert Taite, Temporary Arrangements installation view

A challenge is declared and an object is created within a framework established by a palette of found colours (mistints), resonating found materials, and awareness of art historical precedent. Additional challenges are generated, sometimes in relation to those already in progress. A portion of the works are created in a private studio environment then transported to the future exhibition space, while others are produced on-site in response to newly emerging circumstances. A problem creates a solution, creating a new problem, for which a new solution is required. Through all of this, a desire to find and potentially follow a path into the artist's interior mind is shaped. Is it the potentially coded sequences of colours, hieroglyphs, or layers of Rorschach-like splotches that encourage this curiosity? Responding to whichever sets of objects we wish, the problem solving is now ours to undertake. And, if we embark on such a quest, will we conclude with the same results? The message, if there is one, is ours to create. The space becomes new again and again.

Negative Space:
Robert Taite: Temporary Arrangements runs at Negative Space until December 7.

Milena Placentile is a curator and writer living in Winnipeg. She co-runs Atomic Centre and is Akimblog's Winnipeg correspondent and can be followed @atomiccentre on Twitter.



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