Upstairs in The Power Plant’s North Gallery, a more poetic and less overtly political mode of curatorial inquiry is represented, one which serves as a counterpoint to the ground floor exhibitions (see links to related posts below). To What Earth Does This Sweet Cold Belong? is a group exhibition of young Canadian and American artists curated by Jon Davies, Assistant Curator at The Power Plant. Taking its title and cue from the poetry of American Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, this show features fantastical landscapes from the imaginations of artists Andrea Carlson, Annie MacDonell, Kevin Schmidt, Jennifer Rose Sciarrino, and Erin Shirreff.
Upon entering the gallery, the viewer is presented with a floor plan of the exhibition and a broadside of Christian Bök’s accompanying poem “Midwinter Glaciaria” which, with its crackling descriptions of a magical, sensorial world, sets the tone for the exhibition as a whole. Highlights include wall-sized paintings by Andrea Carlson depicting majestic landscapes of mountains, clouds and water as viewed through an otherworldy oculus wrapped in a scintillating pattern of jagged black and white shapes. Jennifer Rose Sciarrino’s intimate sculptures offer up palm-sized mountains in her hyperreal replications of crystals out of cast resin and landforms from precision cut-and-layered paper. Kevin Schmidt’s projection is a witty take on tromp l’oiel through which he creates the illusion of a see-through tree by painting upon its trunk an impossible window through which the landscape beyond can be seen. Annie MacDonnell’s series of black and white collages investigate landscape from the perpective of overlapping surface features, ripples, the moon over the horizon, wandering sailboats, glaciers and dirt. The most seductive of these is a faceted composition that refracts the light of the rising or setting sun into a multidimensional projection of textures and architectural space. Erin Shirreff’s video takes a photographic image of James Turrell’s Roden Crater and subjects it to various lighting conditions, employing ideas of perception and transformation similar to those which Turrell himself explores within his sculptures and installations.
Through the production of a thematic group show featuring the work of emerging artists, The Power Plant returns to and reinforces its historic mission to present new and recent work by Canadian artists along with their international peers. Combined with an active commissioning program which enables selected artists to produce new work, as well as the production of publications and art editions (some of which are on view in the Fleck Clerestory), The Power Plant communicates its intent to support artists at various stages in their careers and to engage audiences from all walks of life.
image: Erin Shirreff, Roden Crater, 2009, single-channel HD video, courtesy the artist and Lisa Cooley Fine Art, New York