The Dream Machine, 2017
This solo exhibition, 'Th Dream Machine' Patrick Mikhail Gallery, Montreal (October - December 2017) alludes to my interest in the contending ideas of utopia/dystopia gained by being a close observer of the present and my past personal history: an extended research trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg and across Sibera via the trans-Siberian railway in 1992, a few months after the collapse of the Soviet Union; an artist residency at the Bauhaus in Weimer, Germany; and a road trip through middle America in 2009, right after the economic collapse. These were all experiences that led me to contemplate past/present utopian dreams and their eventual decay.
In this exhibition, the formal qualities, materials, and processes—both in the paintings and photograms—connote this changing zeitgeist. What is the “machine” that creates these dreams? Why do we change our dreams? What will be our future “utopia?”
I am interested in the present; the social, political, psychological 'feel' of experiencing now. I begin my work by roaming the urban environment, the core of mega-cities; walking the streets, riding the subways, observing, thinking about what I see, & photographing when 'something' I find triggers a connection. It is in this experiential phase of my work that I link theories to practice and discover the 'seeds' of my next projects.
I begin the process of making my work by finding discarded consumerist products on the streets, or through chance encounters, at for example, Value Village or Dollorama. In my daily life, on my walks, I am always on the 'lookout' for materials to re-claim, reuse, & transform. The materials themselves have meaning; where were they made? by who? are they new or recycled? and how do their visual qualities; colour, pattern, style, connote cultural readings?
I first developed this way of working in the photograms, 'Space Junk' (2016-2017), a group of large, analogue, silver prints done in the darkroom by arranging these collected, found objects on photo-paper and exposing them to light: The more opaque the object the whiter its silhouette and in reverse, the more transparent, the darker the impression; and then developing the prints in the darkroom. This 'historical' process is the same one used in the earliest photograms by Man Ray and Moholy-Nagy.
I then began to recycle these materials in my paintings covering the objects with paint and printing with them or using them as stencils that are sprayed around or through. In the group of paintings such as, ' Welcome to Google Earth' and 'Tatlin's Tower Goes Sputnik' (2017), I wish to build up an abstract, open web of meanings that suggest our complex, fragile, & transitory reality. The support for these paintings is cotton / spandex printed in a variety of black and white patterns. The patterns on these found materials help to suggest the implied narrative & give me a starting point.