Wood you be a-mazed by artist’s boundaries?


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It seems strange to be writing about galleries filled with wood for a second time this summer.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/08/2009 (4914 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It seems strange to be writing about galleries filled with wood for a second time this summer.

Alexandre David’s Over Here at aceartinc. appeared to many as a simple modernist sculpture at first, but the constant programming in and around the work quickly turned into one of the most joyful summer events of 2009. The space that David created with sheets of wood was many things: a movie theatre, a roller-derby arena, a music venue and, most recently, home to a massive crocheted hay bale by local artist Kristin Nelson. While the events didn’t necessarily have much to do with the architectural background of David’s piece, it did give Winnipeggers the chance to experience a gallery in a new way.

Fronteras by Quebec-based, Argentinean-born artist José Luis Torres also looks at changing space in the latest exhibition at La Maison des artistes visuels francophones. However, reinvention of space as art is an arduous notion for some to immediately grasp when walking into an exhibition such as Fronteras (Spanish for “boundaries”). The heart of conceptual art is allowing the experience or message, rather than the visual component, to become the central focus of the work. Installation, performance, sound and new media art all developed from the history of conceptual art.

Artists such as Torres and David reinvent space with minimalism to create artistic experiences, allowing the concept of the work to become the art. While it may seem confusing for some people who are used to traditional forms of art (which are no lesser than conceptual works, of course), the encounters with the conceptual will bring new experiences to viewers if the work is considered in this sense.

A maze of brown painted and weathered wooden walls — which appear to be sections of a displaced outdoor fence — is Torres’ installation. The viewer walks through the gallery space through the guidance of Fronteras’s walls. The angle and height of the installation walls change throughout the space. Cobwebs and environmental debris such as dusty maple seedlings are stuck within the crevices of the wood, summoning a familiarity of outdoor experiences.

A small slanted wall that one can easily see over is the end of one path while another leads into a narrow closed-in space that is claustrophobia-inducing.

These walls create limitations for the viewer as they can only physically go so far in the space. However, this is precisely what Torres is hoping to do through the work. The installation is a reminder and contemplation of the concept of boundary: is it always as concrete as we think it is? Or is there space within and around physical, mental and social boundaries to move? He does not create this maze of walls in a negative sense, but rather as one to think about why the divisions exist.

In the exhibition pamphlet, Fronteras is explained “as a place to reflect” on the idea of boundary. The viewer moves around within the familiar walls with borders constantly emerging and often for no reason at all. This artistic metaphor that Torres creates about the realities of life and the limits that everyone faces is simply poetic.

It is a perfect time to see this exhibition. With summer dwindling down this month, Torres’s work is a way to experience reflection and give oneself time to stop and wonder about the possibilities that exist beyond the limitations and boundaries in one’s life.


Fronteras —

José Luis Torres

La Maison des artistes visuels francophones

219 Provencher

To Sept. 27

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