Disco Sec

October 23, 2008

By Mike Landry
A shot of Christof Migone's laser-cut work, "Rimmed Record."

A shot of Christof Migone's laser-cut work, "Rimmed Record."

Invite Montreal-based multidisciplinary artist and writer Christof Migone to a party, and it’s a safe bet he’ll spend his time scoping out your books and record collections. It’s something he says is “a lot less daunting than talking to somebody,” and can tell you just as much about the person.

The phenomena is the subject of his latest exhibition Disco Sec. The show features six different works which draw from the artist’s record collection for material, and tying them together is one disco ball with its mirrors stripped off in a pile below the black orb.

“It bypasses those iconic images and associations we have with the word portraiture and reinvigorates the word,” says Migone. “Bypassing the psychology of a person ultimately gets you back to that. It becomes just as personal and intimate to know how many records a person has and what those records are than if they were to sing you a song.”

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By Mike Landry
Francis Arguin's body at work for his performance "Proposition pour quitter le sol"

Arguin's body at work for "Proposition pour quitter le sol," 2007.

This week Quebec City-based multidisciplinary artist Francis Arguin is opening two shows in two different cities, Rouyn-Noranda and Toronto, and in two different mediums, performance and sculpture. And whether he’s pouring sand over himself in his skivvies or installing large cardboard structures covered in crumpled paper his motivation is always the same: exploring the world of objects we surround ourselves with everyday.

It’s not uncommon for Arguin to work simultaneously with performance and in sculpture. He started performing during an installation while he was an art student. He wanted to do something special for the opening, so he made objects that were tools to be manipulated to transform the gallery space.

“My body becomes the territory of the action,” says Arguin. “Everything around us is disappearing. The only thing that exists for me is my body.”

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Surface Dwellers

October 23, 2008

By Mike Landry
One of faux finishing veteran Rod Mireau's sculptures.

One of faux finishing veteran Rod Mireau's sculptures.

Eight years ago Ross Bonfanti, fresh out of art college, stepped into the world  with a fine arts diploma in hand and only pennies in his pockets. He wanted to find a job that could pay the bills and related to art so he could continue to grow as an artist. That’s when he landed a job in the faux finishing industry.

“It was kind of exciting to work with faux finishing, because they were doing a lot of commercial gigs. You’d be going into places building scaffolding and learning different finishes,” says Bonfanti. “I did it to gain experience, experiment with new material and also make a little bit of money.”

Bonfanti’s story isn’t uncommon in the art community. And for his coming exhibition at Toronto’s AWOL Gallery he’s brought together some artists he met during his tenure as a faux finisher. The show will highlight each artist using a larger work along with a couple of small “samples,” which are used in the faux business by designers and clients to show their ideas.

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Life on Marrs

October 16, 2008

Marrs' green table made of ash, horse chestnut and found steel.

Marrs' green table made of ash, horse chestnut and found steel.

Furniture was always a very parental concern to me. It was something I was to keep my feet off of, my dirty fingers away from and not to be poked with a fork. I never really understood how being a grown up suddenly made furniture fun. Then again, my parents never owned anything like the genius that comes from Graeme Marrs‘ shop.

For three years Marrs has been running his own company creating contemporary craft furniture. His work is driven by a strong sense of creating things by hand, which need to be created by hand. He uses old and obscure techniques that cannot be easily replicated en masse.

“The biggest reason for me doing things by hand is that there’s a certain element you can’t mass-produce,” says Marrs. “I’ve always felt imparting time into an object adds a non-tangible element to it. When someone touches something I’ve spent hundreds of hours on they get that back in some way.”

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Empty Orchestra

October 16, 2008

By Mike Landry
A photo from inside Karen Tam's "Tchang Tchou Karaoke Lounge."

A photo from inside Karen Tam's "Tchang Tchou Karaoke Lounge."

Maiko Tanaka’s earliest memories of karaoke involve late nights, laughter and adults acting shockingly un-adult-like. Tanaka and her brother, unable to sleep from the noise, would sneak to the stairs and watch the scene below through the banisters wondering what was going on.

Her parents had immigrated to Canada from Japan, and had brought their love of karaoke along with them. Young Tanaka was introduced to the strange Japanese country-sounding songs by other Japanese immigrants crooning in her living room. Her new exhibition Empty Orchestra, which she co-curated with Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival art director Heather Keung, examines the impact of karaoke from her home to her neighbourhood, across generations and borders.

“I’ve been doing [karaoke] since high school—probably 300 times. I can’t get enough of it. It’s really the most fun communal activity you can do with your friends,” says Tanaka. “I also love shameful pop music.”

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The Maybe People

October 16, 2008

By Mike Landry
Jude Griebel's "Vacant Room, Seated Figure."

Jude Griebel's "Vacant Room, Seated Figure."

Drawing inspiration from children’s books and folk tales, Vancouver-based painter Jude Griebel has become a modern day Geppetto turning material into people’s portraits. Griebel crafts implied bodies of his subjects using domestic objects from his subject’s lives, such as scraps of clothes, furniture and other domestic material.

Griebel has been working figuratively in his work for the past five years dealing with themes of alienation, isolation and the imagination. His latest work has him making the whole piece figurative, turning his subjects into scarecrow like forms.

“By using pieces of these people’s personal symbols and arranging them it often stands in for them without the flesh,” says Griebel. “It’s these traces of these people, and it could almost be them. Often it seems more real, and carries more information about them, than an actual conventional painted portrait.”

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Reading Machine for Dr. NO

October 9, 2008

By Stacey Ho
Dr. Julius No torments 007 in Liddington's "Reading Machine."

Dr. Julius No torments 007 in Liddington's "Reading Machine."

In a textual piece from the early eighties, Vancouver artist Rodney Graham rewrites a scene from Ian Fleming’s Dr. No. Part of an extensive body of work that reconfigures the classic super-spy, lenz loops a climatic scene where Bond is caught in a fix—a centipede crawling up the length of his body. In Fleming’s version, 007 shakes off the bug and smoothly saves the day. In Graham’s version, the centipede is always there; Bond never escapes.

A take off of Graham’s practice, Derek Liddington’s Reading Machine for Dr. NO similarly loops a car chase scene from Dr. No. In Liddington’s piece, the bad guy’s car never flies off a cliff, does not blow up. Rather, James Bond is forever being chased in an infinite figure eight. There’s no pay off.

Liddington’s play on Rodney Graham’s strategies extends upon his fascination with Vancouver’s art scene, where artists, mixing their work with pop culture and academia, would freely appropriate each other’s practices.

“It’s a very traditional approach, much like the idea of an apprenticeship,” says Liddington. “Building a practice based on the practice of others is a traditionalist process that I’m interested in.”

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