Curated by Barbara Fischer and Catherine Crowston
Over the past few years there has been an explosion of interest among visual artists in the popular culture of music's diverse yet ubiquitous manifestations. Re-play explores the ways in which established and emerging Canadian artists have taken up popular music, its forms of musical and visual expression, in such mediums as drawing, sculpture, video, performance and installation.
InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre is proud to host projects by Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, Pascal Grandmaison and Zin Taylor as part of Re-play, one of the three components of the Soundtracks exhibition.
Grandmaison's project Solo is a portrait of five individuals performing music by themselves. Not only is it an anti-portrait of the traditional action of the group performance, the audience can see only fragments of each musician's body or the instrument being played. As a result, the audience must reconstruct the principal action from the pieces, imagining a whole that is suggested but never made manifest. Like the single tracks that make up the multi-track composition, each individual element projects itself into a space filled with accompaniment.
In addition to being a reflection on the conditions and effects of contemporary music recording technology, Solo also pays close attention to the subjective experience of playing alone. Grandmaison looks at the solo as a form of self-liberation enacted through the player's compulsive identification with the music and his or her body's dialogue with the instrument.
In Nemerofsky Ramsay's video installation piece I Am A Boy Band, the processes of duplication and multi-tracking serve the opposite ends: acting synthetically to create the song and its star rather than analytically to deconstruct it. Layering persona upon persona, Nemerofsky Ramsay creates an archive of familiar teenage boy types and a rich vocal composition based on an Elizabethan lyric about heartbreak and loneliness. The piece offers a seductive reflection on the way popular music culture models emotions and the ambivalence that influential mirror can provoke in us.
Taylor's multimedia installation trying to make friends... draws the audience into some of the deep creases and shadow worlds of popular music. The project's candid documentation of homemade recorders, camouflage devices and other remnants of bootlegging expeditions are displayed along with a customized listening station where the audience can sample the artist's archive of rare recordings. Surrounded by photos and as-I-remember-them set lists, the audience is ushered into the obsessive sphere of fandom with its addiction to the details and ephemera that feed the feeling of uniqueness.
At the heart of the installation is Taylor's interest in the social spaces and worlds that such archives support. The way in which steeping oneself in the knowledge, experience and details relating to music creates a shared appreciation and sense of an alternative everyday life is one relevant social dimension. The other concerns the cinematic and architectural circumstances that sonic experience can release.
Soundtracks is a large multimedia exhibition that explores the diverse influence and cross-fertilization of music and the visual arts in Canada. The exhibition was produced by the Edmonton Art Gallery in partnership with the Blackwood Gallery, the McKenzie Art Gallery, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
Re-Play is presented in Toronto by Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto at Mississauga, the Power Plant, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Gallery at University of Toronto at Scarborough and InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre.