Bind Together: New Toronto Works 2011
Bind Together is a co-presentation with Pleasure Dome and its annual New Toronto Works program. The exhibition is curated by Toronto-based curators Guillermina Buzio and Laura Paolini, and features new installation works produced by Toronto-based artists Itzvan Kantor, Julieta Maria, Tamara Platiša and Saša Rajšic, and Sean Procyck. InterAccess will be hosting the party for New Toronto Works on Saturday, March 19th from 8pm to 2am.
Please find the accompanying exhibition essay, written by curators Guilllermina Buzio and Laura Paolini, below, along with artist biographies.
Bind Together -- Installations
In addition to the traditional screening of fresh films and videos, Pleasure Dome has partnered with InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre to showcase media installations for the New Toronto Works Show. Traditionally the installations have been featured only on the same night at the same venue as the screening, but this partnership has allowed these intriguing works their own space to breath.
Even though these artists have a varied background both artistically and culturally, an enticing dialogue is created between their works that interprets actions, nature and technology.
Former Governor General award winner Istvan Kantor has a reputation that precedes him, yet the work Banners illustrates another branch of his practice. His bombastic and performative videos often use textual components overlaying onto images, but he has also produced many text-only animations in recent years. The slogans resonate revolutionary thoughts but are also quite humorous (putting Cinderella in control of her glass slipper, for example). On select nights the work is projected into a window overlooking Ossington, and Banners intervenes onto the street life. This reveals the time based nature of the work, and becomes a performative gesture. After gallery hours, can slogans that make Banners have the potential to incite the new revolutions that Kantor thinks cannot happen in the white cube space?
On the opposite side of the gallery resides Julieta Maria's work, Bird, is a seductive yet alarming video installation. The screens seem to float in the air, playing a video of a canary wriggling in the artist's hand. The bird relentlessly tries to escape her grip, yet it never succeeds. The minimalism of the monitors can only be accomplished by removing them from their protective cases; cases that don't necessary protect the monitor but protect the viewer from electronic components carrying high voltage.The hidden, implicit violence in this piece is amplified by the paradox of feeling a closeness that is hindered by an awareness of separation.
Sean Procyck's Suspended Subwoofer Protoype exists within a larger body of work where he uses and reuses the same materials. Working within this series has allowed him to not only recycle materials that others would consider debris, but he actively takes apart and rebuilds his own pieces constantly. His work focuses on the process where he combines and manipulate water, sound, architecture and everyday objects. When a viewer approaches the Suspended Subwoofer Protoype a sensor measures their proximity and sends this information to a microcontroller that operates a LED and a subwoofer. The viewer creates a unique light and sound pattern. "Everything is subtle and after some time we figure where those vibrations are coming from and how they relate with their own image and the image they produce. The interactivity allow us to decide."
Two young artists working in collaboration in Toronto, originally from former Yugoslavia, use video to document performances that reference historicity and place it in a new setting. In Wall to Wall, the action begins with a pre-built brick wall on the beach. According to Tamara Platiša and Saša Rajšic "the brick wall is a direct reference to the structural element of a house, specifically linked to the historic and geographic location of Former Yugoslavia. The brick wall is built, collapses, is recovered and collapses throughout the duration of a performance." As the performance continues, the bricks on the beach become part of a process of rebuilding, breaking down, placement and displacement. The work is rigid yet dynamic; it conjuncts and contradicts. The bricks are placed on the sand, the wind shakes the camera, and the wall falls. Tamara is still, Saša walks, they never end the action, the building or the set. The setting becomes symbolic of the futility of the action, its incompleteness forms a time and place that cannot be revisited.
The collected works in this show are subtle, engaging, and political. These works present the artists as active constructors of their artwork, both physically and conceptually. They seamlessly bind together the issues in their own work and present very strongly together as a whole.
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 The artist statement for Suspended Subwoofer Prototype.
 The artist statement for Wall to Wall.
Julieta Maria is a Colombian, Toronto based new media artist with an MFA in visual arts from York University. She has worked with video and multimedia installations to explore issues like migration and memory. Julieta's recent work has been centered on video documentation of staged actions, exploring the experience of violence as an intrusion in the everyday relationship between the subject and the world. Julieta's video work has been shown in several venues in Toronto, Colombia and the U.S. She has been actively working with artistic organizations, being a founding member of e-fagia, a collective working in new media arts, and a member of the board of directors of aluCine Festival, International Latin film and video festival in Toronto.
Bird (digital video loop, 3 min, 2010) is a close up of the artist's hand holding a canary, while it moves, trying to free itself from the grip. It is a helpless situation. The bird is forever trapped in an endless loop in which it does futile attempts at escaping. The video reflects on fragility, beauty and violence, questioning the limits of our ethical relationship to one another and to the world. What does it mean to confront what is vulnerable? Is there a certain pleasure in the domination of others? What does it mean to have infinite power?
This video presents violence as a physical sensation. The flapping of the wings is a mute voice, a material voice. It is also the thrill of having someone's heart trembling in your hand, someone's pain in your hand.
Istvan Kantor, recepient of the 2004 Governor General's Award for Visual and Media Arts, also known as Monty Cantsin, open-pop-star, the founder of Neoism, 'Self-Appointed Leader of the People of the Lower East Side', is an action based media artist/subvertainer/producer, active in many fields, performance, robotics, mixed-media, installation, painting, sound, music, video and new media. Kantor was born in Budapest where he studied medical science. In 1976, at age 26, he defected to Paris and from there he immigrated to Montreal. He also lived in Portland, New York, Berlin and presently is a resident of Toronto where his three children, Jericho, Babylon and Nineveh were born in the 90's. Kantor's main subjects are the decay of technology and the struggle of the individual in technological society. His work has been described by the media as intellectually rebellious, anti-authoritarian, as well as technically innovative and highly experimental. He likes to break things and set things on fire. He uses conflict and crisis to present his cause, often placing himself in the center of danger and uncertainty. His radically changing creative ambitions are always related to his living environment and social situation.
In collaboration with legendary correspondence artist David Zack, Kantor launched the Monty Cantsin open-pop-star project in Portland, Oregon in 1978. He initiated both the international operations of Neoism and his major life-long performance Blood Campaign in 1979 in Montreal. In the mid-80's Kantor/Cantsin relocated to New York City, re-emerging as 'self-appointed leader of the people of the Lower East Side'.
Kantors's performance-based work explores the body as well as technology, from blood to video to physical gestures via digital sampling, breathing, computers or pneumatic machinery. He often incorporates objects such as steam irons, coat hangers, clocks, flags and megaphones into his actions.
Throughout the past three decades he has been arrested and jailed many times for his guerilla interventions in museums. He also received many prestigious awards among them the Telefilm Canada Award for Best Canadian Film and Video in 1998, in Toronto and the Transmediale Award in 2001, in Berlin.
Besides his individual work he is bandleader/singer of the Red ArmBand and founder-member of several performance groups among them Puppet Government, MachineSexActionGroup and Kantor Family Circus.
Banners (video projection, 1min loop, silent, 2010) is an animated graffiti loop of slogans designed for large projection in billboard style propaganda format. I often use textual components in my video works mostly overlaying them on images but I also produced many text-only animations in recent years. While the content of Banners is confrontational it is also playful and spiced with irony. Banners can be displayed basically anywhere in public environments where people move through and throw a glance at the flickering messages.
Sean Procyk is an everyman from the GTA who holds a BA in Architectural Studies from Carleton University and a Masters of Fine Art from OCAD University. As an artist trained in architectural studies he attempts to create immersive or experiential works that investigate the relationship between light and sound in space. His creative process involves experimenting with construction methods, electronic prototyping and computer programming. His work considers how these disparate practices of making may be used to reshape our perception of an environment. The Suspended subwoofer is the most recent exploration that does this, by using reclaimed materials to create a responsive sculpture, which emits both a light and sound in the space.
Suspended Subwoofer Prototype (2010-11). I have all the characteristics of a bricoleur: fettered consciousness, subversive tendencies, slight neurosis and a hammer and nails, but not a single, clear identifiable trajectory, except for constructing. My nightly foraging of artifacts has over flown into my days. I feel fatigued, at the threshold of consciousness. I think my mask of conformity is about to slip.
Where there are scraps, repression, death and obsolescence, I see prostheses. They lay waiting to be reinvented in ways that can only be realized unconsciously.
Within my work there is the idea of bricomancy; an abstract premonition sought through an intuitive process of making. This phenomenon is so transitory, yet periodic that even after its passing it is everlasting. It is the process around which my reality revolves. It is how I imagine the tangible evolves. It is what I relate to. It's a lifestyle choice.
Tamara Platiša was born in Yugoslavia (1989). She studied Sculpture & Installation, Drawing & Painting at OACD University from 2007-2011. She lives and works in Toronto.
Saša Rajšic was born in Yugoslavia (1985). He studied Sculpture & Installation at OACD University (2007-2011) and the Glasgow School of Art, UK (2009) . He currently lives and works in Toronto.
Wall to Wall (video loop, 1 hr 15 min. 2010). This performance was documented with a single camera from one perspective. The video begins with an image of a brick wall in the foreground. These bricks were not cemented for the duration of the performance. As time progressed it became visible that this brick wall was being taken apart by Rajšic who is behind this wall. All while Platiša stands at a distance from both Rajšic and the wall. With each brick Rajšic performed the repetitive action of taking one brick at a time and transporting it to a location behind him, indicated by Platiša. Once Rajšic has formed a new wall from the same bricks Platiša's image has disappeared to the viewer. In actuality, the brick wall fell on Platiša, an indication for Rajšic to lay down the last bricks and stand behind Platiša. Platiša began to dismantle the ruins that lay before her, carry them and place them two by two in front of Rajšic. This performance supports Hegel's idea that the only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history. The brick wall is a direct reference to the structural element of a house, specifically linked to the historic and geographic location of Former Yugoslavia. The brick wall is built, collapses, is recovered and collapses throughout the duration of a performance.