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DISAPPEARING ACT

Abbas Akhavan, Barbara Astman, Mark Crofton Bell, Rebecca Belmore, Millie Chen, Irene Loughlin, Teresa Margolles, Mark Ruwedel

Curator: Ana Barajas

Exhibition Dates: September 8 – November 5, 2017
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 9, 2:00 – 5:00 PM | Curator’s Talk at 2:30 PM

Thames Art Gallery is pleased to present Disappearing Act on view from September 8 to November 5, 2017. This mixed-media exhibition curated by Ana Barajas brings together contemporary Canadian and international artists who explore themes of absence and disappearance, both physical and social. Featuring drawings, painting, video, photography and installation, Disappearing Act proposes different ways in which the artists question dynamics of power and exclusion, and how their works are intertwined by relations to the human body and the inferred possibility of experienced loss.

Mark Crofton Bell's paintings explore the relationship between photography and history as it appears on the fading pictures of daily newspapers. Removed from their original context, these images lack the authority that once infused them, becoming ambiguous and uncertain. Rebecca Belmore’s text-based work is a triptych of a rubbing taken from the base of the Sir John A. Macdonald monument located in Kingston's City Park. Across the three sections of the piece, the artist elegantly drops words from successive versions, to shift the meaning from a declaration of the political identity of Canada's first Prime Minister to emphatic declaration of the inevitable "fact" defining subjective existence. The identity of the subject disappears by the third panel and ultimately the physicality’s inevitable end is foreshadowed without ceremony.

Teresa Margolles’ video focuses on traditional Mayan embroidered shrouds made by indigenous activist women from Guatemala. Previously, in the morgue, this fabric absorbed the fluids of a woman's body murdered in Guatemala City. While the women collectively stitch the fabric creating beautiful flora, they also discuss the ongoing presence and disappearance of the women’s bodies. Video by Irene Loughlin focuses on housing insecurity and the erosion of living spaces for marginalized communities through the artist’s seemingly futile and random actions performed in a cramped hotel room. Millie Chen’s, audio-video work Tour (2014) contemplates four arguably “healed” genocide sites from around the world, while Abbas Akhavan’s installation is an act of space demarcation occupied by emptiness. Barbara Astman’s photographic series, I as artifact (2008-2011) presents face-like masks as translucent abstract impressions of a human face, their surfaces appearing as geological terrains with deep valleys and textured peaks, while Mark Ruwedel’s stark photographic landscapes capture traces of human presence in American deserts. Through different visual strategies, the artists featured in Disappearing Act remind us that the idea of permanence is a mirage and that the trauma of disappearance can reverberate in the body and in the land. More precisely, the female body and the mother land are the most deeply affected by the constant erosion of rights, security, and social standing.

Through different visual strategies, the artists featured in Disappearing Act remind us that the idea of permanence is a mirage and that the trauma of disappearance can reverberate in the body and in the land. More precisely, the female body and the mother land are the most deeply affected by the constant erosion of rights, security, and social standing.



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Image credits (top): Mark Crofton Bell, Orlando, oil on canvas, 2006, courtesy of the artist; (bottom) Barbara Astman, I as artifact #4, 2014, digital print, courtesy of the artist and Corkin Gallery,Toronto.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Ana Barajas would like to acknowledge support through the Culturally Diverse Curatorial Projects Program from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario. This exhibition is presented with assistance from the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University, Corkin Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada, and Olga Korper Gallery. Thames Art Gallery exhibitions and programs are generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

Thames Art Gallery is open 7 days a week 1-5pm and is located at 75 William Street North, Chatham, ON. N7M 4L4. The gallery is FREE and open to the public.

Media Contact: Emily Cadotte, Assistant Curator at emilyc@chatham-kent.ca or 519.360.1998 or visit our website http://www.chatham-kent.ca/ThamesArtGallery for more.