...and uncertain light
Dates: January 17 to February 14, 2003
Artists: Brenda Pelkey (Saskatoon), Holly King (Montréal), and Tamsin Clark (Victoria), with writer Clint Hutzulak (Victoria)
Opening: January 17 at 7 p.m.
Artists’ Talk: January 18 at noon
Reading: February 10 at 7 p.m.
…and uncertain light, an exhibition of large-scale photographs, was intended to present an exploration of landscape as psychic, fantastical, mysterious and uncertain—space in which cultural politics of landscape, identity, and spatiality are investigated. The work of Brenda Pelkey, Holly King, and Tamsin Clark presented real and imagined landscapes filled with suspense and beauty—triggering memory, identification, and imagination. Moreover, each body of work complicated and expanded our recognition and understanding of landscape and displayed new photographic and literal approaches of describing and visualizing the spaces we occupy.
In addition, a text component by Clint Hutzulak was presented alongside the photographs, but it also exists independently in a printed format for distribution. Hutzulak read from this text at a scheduled time. The presentation of this written piece, in combination with the distinct photographic work of each visual artist, created an opportunity for complex and multifaceted discussions in regards to past and present associations to landscape in art and in society at large.
The work of Saskatoon artist Brenda Pelkey is comprised of landscape images that are repeated, reversed, and doubled in an effort to create uncertainty and unease. Her work centres on notions of meaning and place and a sense of belonging. None of the fields, forests, or seashores that she captures contain figures. Photographed at night (or at twilight with a long exposure), Pelkey's eerily claustrophobic landscapes are illuminated with movie lights. The unnatural light and deep shadows transform these ordinary locales into the mise-en-scènes for melodramas. Their already heightened ambience is further dramatized in selected works by the presence of a muted audio component.
Holly King, a Montreal-based artist, has created throughout her career strange and beautiful landscapes that hover between fiction and reality. She builds models using everyday objects selected and arranged to represent the four elements. When photographed, enlarged and skilfully lit, these miniatures are transformed into fantastic settings for epic battles and intimate inner struggles. Themes explored in her work include the universe of mythical gods and the forces of nature, human presence with man-made structures, death, absence and memory. King states, "I am interested in the way in which we cannot claim that experience, even while standing in the midst of a marvellous site. There is always a sense of distancing in that we are in the landscape but not of it." ("Holly King", in Diagonales Montréal: 10 monographies, Montreal: Parachute, 1992.)
For the purpose of this exhibition, Victoria artist Tamsin Clark produced a series of large-scale monochromatic colour photographs. The series is called The Dreadful Lemon Sky and results from the artist’s contemplation of Andres Serrano’s Broken Bottle Murder from his Morgue Series and her interest in detective novels by John D. McDonald and Ross McDonald. Clark creates photographs that represent confined and unsafe landscapes. Employing a 4+5 Pinhole camera placed directly on the ground, the photographs portray the illusion that the ground is somehow sliding or converging. Clark employs only the colours red and yellow in her work, referring to the sickness of violent acts and symbolically of blood.
Drawing from the narrative impulses implicit in the imagery of the three photographers, Victoria writer Clint Hutzulak created a trio of short fictions to accompany the exhibit. The language of cinema used by Brenda Pelkey and the explicit literary references in the work of Holly King and Tamsin Clark inspired the three distinct approaches Hutzulak took with his texts. A writer of wide-ranging interests, Hutzulak is equally at home with the fantastical, the allegorical, the realistic, and the melodramatic, as evidenced in his novel, stories, and short plays.