Sunday, September 24, 2006

Stuff Seen - Treehouse


Tree House at the Saidye Bronfman Centre


It is getting out of hand, I think that there are something like two dozen exhibits that I've seen that I haven't had a chance to write about, between the new show here, and other things. However, it is a good thing I wrote myself some reminders. Way back in August we went to see Treehouse at the Liane and Danny Taran Gallery of the Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts. It was a glorious late summer day, and from the little bit of information I had about the exhibit I was expecting the usual summer extravaganza, similar to the Oasis show in 2001, or the Ene-Liis Semper show in 2003 where they took full advantage of the fact that the gallery was right across the street from Mackenzie King Park, and exhibited art, had a BBQ, and a corn roast.

Maybe it was just because I missed the vernissage, but I was sorely disappointed that the entire show was indoors. How ironic can you get? Indoor tree houses. None the less, some of them were quite cool and kick ass. I specifically liked the ones by Jacques Bilodeau, and Michael Robinson. The show itself did not strike me as an 'interdisciplinary exhibition of conceptual tree house maquettes.' It appeared to me to be much more like a bunch of creative people using branches and the idea of trees to make something vaguely sculptural.

When the pieces weren't vaguely sculptural and were truly sculptural the results were spectacular, such as Jacques Bilodeau's Caprice. Which is a perfect example of why I don't trust artists to talk about their work. He writes 'As in the case of Les Transformables, the core notion is envelopment.' All fine and dandy if you ignore the chain, and the 10 foot branch that was suspended upside down by the chain. What M. Bilodeau was referring to pretty much looked like a hornet's nest, but what entranced me was that he had flipped the notion of a tree on its head, and spun it around backwards. It could have been slightly better if it had been moved about three feet in the direction of the Decarie boulevard, so that it could have twisted in a complete circle instead of running into the wall that separated it from Axel Morgenthaler's piece.

I remember the feeling induced by M. Morgenthaler's piece more than I can remember the piece (which ain't a good thing) - I have here in my notes, 'cool dark.' And as he is a theater lighting designer by day, I can easily understand how using light would make his piece stand out from the crowd.

Michael Carroll's (full disclosure: he is a friend) piece called 'I am a bird now' was a full blown interdisciplinary conceptual tree house maquette. Using a fan, streamers and all sorts of other doo-hickeys he was successful in making me think, briefly what it was like to be a winged creature.

Naomi London's wasn't as successful. A combo of dots, wheels, seats and branches, I could not for the life of me figure out how or what she was trying to do with her 'climb-up seating situation.' it had no connection to any sense of any sort of shelter, and looked more like some Flinstone's amusement park ride in 3-D. Now that I've read the booklet that accompanies the exhibit I understand what she was trying to do - although I'm still confused as to how 'hugging someone dear that you haven't seen in a long time' relates to a tree house.

NIPpaysage and AMMA had pieces that not only had me shaking my head, apparently I shook it so hard that all memory of what they did is gone. Never a good thing, if I can't remember what the art looked like, I'm fairly certain that it wasn't a great piece of art.

Michael A. Robinson, Oh! Pen Drawing Darwin Doe / Oeuvre Rire La Feu Naitre, detail

Michael A. Robinson also made a full blown interdisciplinary conceptual tree house maquette. Called 'Oh! Pen Drawing Darwin Doe / Oeuvre Rire La Feu Naitre' (Open the window / Open the window - in French) complete with a Breezy Singer and a piece of art he stole from himself.

Then Lastly, Rachel Echenberg & S├ębastien Worsnip stuck a model of rowboat in the crook of a branch. How original.

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