The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is presently hosting a variety of art exhibitions, one of which is named Agnostic Objects (things persist). It has run since October 8th and will go until January 30th 2011. The artist’s name is Daniel Laskarin, and his work is object-based and conceptually rooted; http://finearts.uvic.ca/visualarts/facultystaff/dlaskarin/ . Laskarin has been exhibiting since 1983 and graduated from Simon Fraser University in 1985 with a background in Fine and Performing arts, as well as Visual arts. Laskarin’s exhibitions have previously been welcomed in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Las Angeles, France, and more. He has taught art and sculpture at SFU, ECIAD, and currently teaches at the University of Victoria. His work is often constructed to provoke the perceiver’s impressions in diverse ways; the objects are notorious for utilizing a great deal of uncertainty, doubt, and ambiguity while simultaneously portraying evocative comeliness. “I’m somebody that thinks about things, and then makes things- what I wanted to get out was beauty and horror at the same time”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrLoYIOWF1c His current showing at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is a presentation that will feature a selection of new works as well as a number of pieces constructed over the last decade. The art gallery’s website illustrates that his pieces “offer us physical feedback through which we feel our own bodies, our own being in the world”. http://aggv.ca/exhibitions/daniel-laskarin I found this statement to be an exciting precedent of inspiration prior to walking through the exhibition. When I arrived at the art gallery, I was instantly filled with curiosity and an eagerness to see what these unordinary objects could do for me. A plaque inside the gallery states, “Laskarin’s work maintains that our physical relationship to the world and the objects that inhabit it all contribute to how we define and create an understanding of ourselves.” A wordy and intricate presumption indeed- I couldn’t wait to put it to the test.
I found it reassuring to note that Laskarin’s primary motive in sculpture and art formation is to “set out to create objects which might look almost recognizable, but never quite identifiable”, as stated on the gallery website. In essence, this quotation dictates the feeling drawn over me when I entered the first room. I felt immediately overcome with scepticism and disbelief because everything appeared slightly familiar, yet foreign; unanticipated, and strange. I recognized several chair-like figures, as well as other common geometrical shapes; however, each piece appeared to be tainted with an awkward peculiarity. Some objects were tilted on uncomfortable angles, others teetered in fragile motion. Structures of various sizes and colors were seemingly randomly placed; some stationary and bold, and others quaint with material. Simply put, the objects in the first gallery, named Centennial Gallery, did appear to just randomly “exist” or inhabit this open white space comprised of high ceilings and noticeably loud ventilation. On the other hand, there was one structure that struck me as arrogant, boastful, and, oversized. It commanded my attention over and above any of the inferior figures in my peripherals. I pushed forward to examine the most extravagantly outsized chair I have ever seen named, “Now Beacon, Now Sea”. [172 x 113 x 84| 246 cm high| Steel, thermoplastic, fabric]. I stood five feet away in an effort to examine its three-dimensional structure; it stood tall, elevated, and chromatic. The large chair’s steel had been ravaged by gunshots and each penetration was somehow encapsulated in the steel’s definition. Moreover, the blasts of the bullets seemed to be “frozen” in each direction they were shot- it was an incredible technique. Most significantly, though, was the prominent feature of sleek and luxurious fabric wrapped particularly around the chair- it was pinned carefully, as to be held precisely in bunches. The chair was completely contradictory- sharp and jagged steel swathed in smooth and silky posed material. I felt a compulsive desire to reach out and touch the bizarreness of this contrast of textures, however, resisted the urge and chewed over my perceptions. The chair ultimately suggested to me an underlying nature of royalty- elevated, contradictory, untouchable, and immortal. In this gallery of “industrial-like” objects, this particular piece was undoubtedly my favourite in the room. It suggested to me a whirlwind of evocative qualities, and it personifies aspects of violence, times of war, and reign throughout historical periods.
Upon walking into the Ker Gallery, I was immediately struck again by a protagonist monument located in the center of the seemingly larger gallery. I felt again obliged to pursue this extraordinary attention-starved object. My first impression of this piece named “Turny Girl” was that it evoked perceptions of a “futuristic Mona Lisa” because the woman on the TV appeared to systematically flash her eyes back at me when I circled around the orbit’s circuit. It became evidently impossible to give primary justice to other works in the room; here is six-foot pink armature, mounted on a soft sculpture base that looks something like a child’s beanie bag. The materials used for this object were primarily powdered aluminum, fabric, and a DVD for the television screen. The pink sphere rotates, and within the orbit a video panel is fastened which continuously shows the rotating image of a daunting woman staring back at me. I found it extremely unnerving every time the featured person caught my eye because she had a boyish presence and an abrupt glare. I decided after this piece, that I would conclude my first visit to the art gallery after the bizarre impression that Turny Girl had left me. I would come back for a second visit soon after I internalized more research on the artist, in an attempt to understand his work more efficiently. I went onto the artist’s website http://www.laskarin.ca/ because I was little hesitant in my ability to appreciate the exhibition- one of his quotes reassured me that it was normal to feel the way I did. ”The works I make set out to generate their own conditions of physical and imaginative experience. They confirm our existence while resisting definition. To address them is to physically experience doubt – and to proceed through that to creative uncertainty with all its imaginative possibilities.”
I visited the art gallery about a week later. The plan was to acknowledge my uncertainty and verify that it was a normal reaction for this kind of art exhibition. I challenged myself to derive creative and imaginative possibilities from doubt this time around. Anticipation was evident toward the prominent structures in both rooms. In entering the first gallery again, I genuinely attempted to be wowed by some of the other objects, however, remained particularly favourable to “Now Beacon, Now Sea”, and decided to accept it as the monument that I could appreciate. In recognizing this a second time, I felt a familiar sensation- something of an alienated host greeting me again. I later discovered that the compelling chair was inspired, in part, by a scene from 1991 blockbuster Silence of the Lambs.
I came to a broad generalization of the Centennial Gallery. The room was comprised mostly of industrial-type objects; things that could serve as memorable visionaries from the 19th century. Objects appeared to resemble such things as textile machinery, horse-feeders, and agricultural crates. While scanning the room again in search for anything overly intriguing, my attention became drawn towards the repetition of a familiar lullaby which I could recall from the previous visit. To my surprise, it was in fact one of Laskarin’s pieces named “Row your boat” which was created over a decade ago. A sound tape loop plays “Merrily, merrily, merrily, Life is but a dream”. I immediately got the sense that the young child’s voice had a strong connection to the artist. Coincidentally enough, after reviewing a website on the artist, I found out that it was in fact his daughter at two-and-a-half who continually sings the nursery rhyme. This particular piece of work was extremely alluring, and I now realized that it acted as a good transition piece to enter the second room- the uncanny tape loop was musical, electronic, and novel in that it didn’t seem to belong with the other objects in the room. It allowed me to shift my attention towards what the next room, or to see what the “future” had in store.
The Kerr Gallery was presented to me in the exact same way again. I noticed that the ventilation was not as loud as the first room, but instead the silence filled with the rotation of Tunry Girl. I find this piece extremely intriguing because depending on where I stand, she will stare at me in a different way. When I walked around the object again, I began to feel nauseous and interpreted it as something significant. Apparently this was a noteworthy reaction because, as Laskarin has stated, “we know that we’re alive when we get physical feedback from the world”. In contrast to the Centennial Gallery, I see the Kerr Gallery as representing a whirlwind of technology taking over in the 20th century. I have internalized it as “the now”, the present, and the future. The evolution of structures featured in the Daniel Laskarin exhibition demonstrates numerous contrasting qualities which compliment the overall experience.
I became curious as to where Daniel Laskarin gets his inspiration from, and did some follow up research on his exhibitions. His work is very comparable to an artist named Jennifer Hutton, a Toronto based writer and artist. The two artists collaborated in exhibition September 11th-November 7th 2009. Her art is also thought-stimulating; comprised of simple objects which collectively form a greater picture. www.jenhutton.com Her project Things, not pictures features a widespread series of clear plastic pushpins displaying that very title. This sort of display is simplistic, yet perception-provoking and analogous to the work of Daniel Laskarin. Their work is designed not to keep secrets, nor to be passively present in the space, but to be alive vicariously through the art. Each abstract piece of this particular stylistic way of art is created purposely; allowing the perceiver to feel life differently, if just for a moment.
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