This is a photo from a prior show, but at YYZ gallery Rude's gold aluminum mirror rhombohedrons are being shown in near-darkness and the effect is breathtaking. They look like debris from another, better planet, from utopia maybe, miraculously and mysteriously intact. Such beauty so coldly rendered.
"Gold mirror is a recurrent medium in Jade Rude’s installations. It is a
material that evokes divergent affiliations: both the high-end optic
technology of space missions but also a plastic world’s answer to
consumer-grade luxury. Rude’s industrial sheeting offers a more
glamorous update to the mirrored surfaces of earthworks of yore, while
nevertheless following on the turnabout prompted by American minimalism
that made industrial fabrication the new gold standard in art. Indeed,
Rude’s favoring of conditions of installation in which “the physical
body and surrounding architecture become enmeshed” aligns perfectly with
the battle cry of minimalism in the 1960s. Yet in this particular
foray, Rude also appropriates a specific image referent as her starting
point - the mysterious solid that stars in Albrecht Dürer’s now
five-centuries-old engraving Melencolia I (1514). Based on what
most scholars agree to be a truncated rhombohedron rendered in the
etching, Rude has extrapolated a three-dimensional structure that she
deploys in modular repetition, stacking and distributing these units in
clusters across the gallery space. The resulting rhombic building blocks
are scaled to multiple sizes and are placed according to subjective
decisions of arrangement that the artist has negotiated in relationship
to the physical footprint of the gallery. The dispersal of the forms
across the site is formally linked to phenomena of accrual and
multiplication common in the natural landscape. The repeating units also
offer refractions of the surrounding environment and its visitors
framed in the mirrored facets of the solids, which act like prisms
distributing light in a theatrical staging of the forms. The resulting
installation balances between sculptural, pictorial and performative
concerns - both carefully laid rock garden and hall of mirrors."
The standard Coupland criticism: too witty, too flippant, not political or aggressive or profound enough. But his work satisfies me deeply - I'm so starved, as a Canadian, for contemporary art that speaks to me in the language of my own cultural identity that I'm overcome with delight by nearly everything he produces. Here you are, here we are, this is us, look at us, his work says to me, and no one else has said it so loudly, so specifically, so ingeniously. It's very gratifying. I'm also extremely charmed by the work as a physical manifestation of an endlessly restless, inventive, industrious mind, able to successfully realize its many creative impulses. His dual career provokes in me a powerful sort of pride-envy. The convenience store ice chest at MOCCA, perfectly reproduced with only the addition of a small, bloody leak, strikes me as a sinister visual narrative, though of course it can also be interpreted as a metaphor or a comment. I thought for a long time of the many gas stations I've visited in my life, where this chest often sits. How alike those places are, no matter where. They have what author Lisa Margonelli calls a "clannish ugliness," describing them as "a crime scene before the fact."
"Is there a better-known, bigger, more zeitgeisty guy in contemporary Canadian art than Douglas Coupland, OC, OBC?" the Globe and Mail asked recently and the answer is a depressing nope. But there should be -- or at least there should be more
Douglas Couplands. Why aren't there more multidisciplinarians like
him? And why aren't there other high profile artists his age
in Canada? What's wrong with our art schools, our government arts
funding, our societal valuation of artists, that Douglas Coupland is
such an anomaly? We must be suffocating so many dreams here. That, or
somehow Canadians are just largely and irrevocably unartistic as a people.
"On December 31st of 1958 Lila had her first episode of dissolving margins. The term isn't mine, she always used it. She said that on those occasions the outlines of people and things suddenly dissolved, disappeared. That night, on the terrace where we were celebrating the arrival of 1959, when she was abruptly struck by that sensation, she was frightened and kept it to herself, still unable to name it. It was only years later, one night in November 1980 - we were thirty-six, were married, had children - that she recounted in detail what had happened to her then, what still sometimes happened to her, and she used that term for the first time."
"There is an erotics of dislike...the real meaning of our dislikes is that they define us by separating us from what is outside us; they separate the self from the world in a way that mere banal liking cannot do...To like something is to want to ingest it, and in that sense is to submit to the world. To like something is to succumb, in a small but contentful way, to death. But dislike hardens the perimeter between the self and the world, and brings a clarity to the object isolated in its light. Any dislike is in some measure a triumph of definition, distinction, and discrimination - a triumph of life."
The prettiest, most delightful pieces at Villa Toronto are Zeke Moores' golden dumpster and silver portable toilet (Diaz Contemporary) but what I found myself thinking about later were the aluminum-covered branches by Tony Romano, a nod to Stendhal’s theory of love: Austrian salt miners used to take a tree branch with them down into the mine. Over many months, salt crystals would accumulate on the branches, and the miners would give them to their wives and girlfriends, as objects of beauty. Love is about making something ordinary transcendent, Stendhal wrote: 'From the moment he falls in love, even the wisest man no longer sees anything as it really is.'
"They suffer twice - first from grief and then from a tyranny of shoulds: 'I should have pulled myself out of this,' 'I shouldn't be so angry,' 'I should have moved on by now,' and so forth. There is little room here for emotional exploration or understanding. This way of being leads to self-loathing, despair, depression...My experience is that closure is an extraordinarily compelling fantasy of mourning. It is the fiction that we can love, lose, suffer and then do something to permanently end our sorrow. We want to believe we can reach closure because grief can surprise or disorder us - even years after our loss."
"The whole exchange seemed both deeply fraudulent and profoundly true, as though such words as emptiness and meaninglessness had stimulated some remembered emotion which attached itself to this occasion and person."
"'If we just connect to the art, we're not finished. We haven't heard the full lesson. Because he says that after that, we need to disconnect, right? We have to cut the connection that ties our attention to that particular delay. Because in the end, a delay is just like a kind of decoy. Right? Do you see that? We stop, we attend, and when we do, we eventually come to realize that we didn't ever need to stop at all.'"
"In those days, I was pursued by nostalgia. I always had been, and I didn't know how to free myself so I could live in peace.
I still haven't learned. And I suspect I never will. But at least I do know something worthwhile now: it's impossible to free myself from nostalgia because it's impossible to be freed from memory. It's impossible to be freed from what you have loved.
All of that will always be part of you. The yearning to relive the good will always be just as strong as the yearning to forget and destroy memories of the bad, erase the evil you've done, obliterate the memory of people who've harmed you, eliminate your disappointments and your times of unhappiness.
It's entirely human, then, to be engulfed in nostalgia and the only solution is to learn to live with it. Maybe, if we're lucky, nostalgia can be transformed from something sad and depressing into a little spark that sends us on to something new, into the arms of a new lover, a new city, a new era, which, no matter whether better or worse, will be different. And that's all we ask each day: not to squander our lives in loneliness, to find someone, to lose ourselves a little, to escape routine, to enjoy our piece of the party."