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Steven Leyden Cochrane
Caroline Monnet at Gurevich Fine Art
September 09, 2014

A pair of exhibitions opened at Gurevich Fine Art last Friday, the gallery’s contribution to an ongoing, city-wide programming blitz celebrating the 30th anniversary of Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art. Tucked behind a lively small works show highlighting established women artists (Aganetha Dyck, Reva Stone, Buffy Sainte-Marie) alongside local up-and-comers (painter Megan Krause, versatile conceptualist Elise Dawson), the dimly-lit rear gallery houses an austere new media installation by Caroline Monnet, co-presented by Video Pool Media Arts Centre.

Caroline Monnet, Amik(waa)

A nine-foot octagonal prism of glossy black acrylic sheets lashed with wire to a scaffold of copper pipes, Amik(waa) rises like a crystal point, flashes of light spilling out from narrow openings at each corner. Inside the structure, abstract projections dart across the floor like campfire shadows, their dim, kaleidoscopic reflections seeming to dissolve in gathering darkness. An ambient soundscape of forest sounds breaks into sporadic rhythms of chopping wood and whispers, offering only faint and faltering points of reference.

The daughter of Algonquin and French parents, Monnet readapts the form of the Shaking Tent, a single-occupant ceremonial lodge built to shelter and facilitate rites of divination. She transposes the site from forest clearing to gallery space, replacing sapling poles with copper pipe and acrylic sheet for bark and hide. Digital audio and low-res video stand in for conjured voices and visions.

Along with her restrained but resourceful approach to material, Monnet’s allusions to traditional construction and successive layers of human history enrich and complicate Amik(waa)’s minimalist aesthetics. She teases out rewarding parallels between the search for spiritual understanding and Minimal sculpture’s particular challenge to the viewer, to regard the work as a presence to navigate instead of an object to look at. We approach the work with questions, and we’re met with our own reflected gaze, which gets swept up – along with any obvious answers – among the digital artifacts and dancing shadows.

Gurevich Fine Art, co-presented by Video Pool Media Arts Centre:
Caroline Monnet: Amik(waa) continues until September 27.

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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