Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Anticipation & aftermath

Group show hints at disastrous events taking place just out of view

  • Print
Hours Pass Like Centuries by Daniel Wong

Enlarge Image

Hours Pass Like Centuries by Daniel Wong

Any catastrophic event, whether it's a major disaster or private trauma, exerts a bizarre, gravitational effect on our experience of time. It becomes the point towards which all past experiences lead and the moment from which all others follow. Like a dull ache or low-pitched rumble, it hangs in the background of consciousness only to resurface suddenly, intrusively in the present -- sometimes with overwhelming force.

The moment itself can seem to last forever, witnessed as if from a distance, like slow-motion television footage. For survivors, the minutes and months that follow pass unpredictably, dragging on or flying by in irregular waves. Disaster warps our recollection of everything that came before it: the calm before impact seems eerie in hindsight; we compulsively retrace our steps.

All of a sudden..., curated for Platform Centre by acting co-director Collin Zipp, brings together works that speak to the experience of disaster -- the lead-up, the aftermath and the moment itself -- without ever picturing it directly.

In an untitled work by Laurie Kang, cascades of undeveloped, unfixed photographic paper hang fully exposed from the gallery wall. Offering no image where we'd expect to find one, the chemically-treated surfaces having deepened to an unpleasant ochre-brown, it stands as an abstract record or mute witness of everything that's happened since the paper was first exposed to light.

Similarly concerned with the passage and recording of time, Daniel Wong's Hours Pass Like Centuries consists of a modified alarm clock. Marking minutes and hours at the expected rate but in seemingly random sequence, the piece quietly, unnervingly destabilizes the viewer's expectation of logical, linear narrative order.

In the context of the exhibition, images by photographer Jeff Bierk and the late conceptual artist Gordon Lebredt serve as neutral screens onto which viewers can project their own memories and anxieties. Bierk's dimly lit shot of a green-and-yellow hospital curtain evokes the fear and anticipation of loss that attend that setting. Mounted under grey-tinted Plexiglas, Lebredt's straight-ahead view of a vacant park bench takes on the funereal chill of polished black granite, a seeming memorial -- of what, if anything, we can only guess.

Striking a similar note, Snow Storm, a photograph by Sarah Anne Johnson, pictures an faceless figurine staggering through a model blizzard. We're left to wonder if some critical moment has past, if it isn't already too late to turn back.

In Nessie, a 2001 video by Mitch Robertson, we watch a steady trickle of tourists as they pose for photographs and scan the horizon for Scotland's most famous lake monster before decamping to a nearby gift shop. For Lord of the Flies, Jason de Haan marked every seemingly significant passage in William Golding's grisly allegory with a green highlighting flag -- some 7,000 tabs in all -- rendering the book unreadable. Both works gently skewer the absurdity of our more fevered expectations.

It's a distinct possibility that none of the artists included in All of a sudden... were actively contemplating "disaster." Just the same, the curatorial premise infects our interpretation of their work, just as the memory or expectation of trauma colours our experience of otherwise innocuous events. All that we can know for certain, as in Ian August's still-life painting of a plastic vodka bottle crudely sawn in half, the icy mountain peaks pictured on the label standing in as an absurd and eerie landscape, is that something went down, and it probably isn't over yet.


Steven Leyden Cochrane is a Winnipeg-based artist, writer and educator.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 26, 2013 C7

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Key of Bart - Cali For Jets Nation

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Perfect Day- Paul Buteux walks  his dog Cassie Tuesday on the Sagimay Trail in Assiniboine Forest enjoying a almost perfect  fall day in Winnipeg- Standup photo – September 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Susan and Gary Harrisonwalk their dog Emma on a peaceful foggy morning in Assiniboine Park – Standup photo– November 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

About Steven Leyden Cochrane

Steven Leyden Cochrane is a Winnipeg-based artist, writer, and educator from Tampa, Fla.


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google