When has abstraction ever been outside of our motivations, gestures or bodies?
The decidedly precarious meeting place of the materials in Anatomize Obfuscation are points of convergence that we can relate to as easily as the vernacular objects, and contexts we engage with while walking home from our nearest grocer. Our appreciation for formal and aesthetic relationships come from that same place: It comes from the rear - from relationships that we can move from and remember: the colloquial aesthetic experience. The expanded definition of this phrase discusses the aesthetic conversations directed towards the mundane and ubiquitous. Be they objects, materials or gestures they lie in the realm of charged everyday.
The Commons is proud to present Anatomize Obfuscation, an exhibition of three female artists, based in Vancouver BC, whose works showcase a diverse array of “liberating” gestures for the mundane through performance, sculpture, collage and painting. Setup initially as a living system, this exhibition hopes to expose aesthetics at ground level while maintaining performative elements that reverse strict formal preoccupations. The activation of certain work, or sites, ignites an intimacy with the given materials through juxtaposition and reordering. Guadalupe Martinez and Jasmine Reimer leave objects exposed – panting and stressed – where they reintegrate into common systems of organization used for standardized materials. Stacked or leaning pieces of wood, cinderblocks, and foam of all varieties act as base material for their sculptures in order for this vernacular language to be outlined and expanded. Anna Wood engages with this kind of colloquial experimentation through surface. She renders with paint, collage and other two-dimensional mark makers. All three artists articulate a kind of deconstruction of the everyday through their interplay with material use value, form and colour.
Can life be viewed as an aesthetic experience (like that of a video game or construction site)? Anatomize Obfuscation organizes the spaces that the employed materials occupy in ways that are as vernacular, and beautiful, as an early cup of Joe or successful birth. Martinez, Reimer and Wood use ostensibly banal materials to speak of the common object as being charged with aesthetic and social potential, aligning their humble nature within society through their formal gesture.
Anatomize Obfuscation opens up to the work of Guadalupe Martinez where, through its transformation over the duration of the exhibition, her installation seems to cycle through moments of expiration. Martinez involves herself with re-ordering a series of cinderblocks while weaving gold fabric through and around this structural material, alluding to the modular nature of her compositions. She employs objects that allude to participatory and cooperative action, or reaction, and fosters this through the possible prerogative of her installations whether they resemble a construction site, banner or blockade. Martinez’s ostensibly impenetrable structures are quite illusive. Forms of social and physical architecture remain attached to her materials, whereby the interruption of space facilitates an object-ground relationship as illustrated through Study for a Compound Sentence (2013). The way in which Martinez employs materials and moments of suspended activity calls upon the uncanny, bringing the anxious and flux body back into the work.
Similarly, Jasmine Reimer uses surrealist gestures that seem to emerge from the very edges of her sculptures. These externally located objects are not embedded, but adorned in a way that seems closer to sensation. The body knows when it is spoken to. They emerge from pieces of foam, wood or found objects, as in Finger Fence (2012), pulling elements of the mundane from the body, the domestic and urban space into her sculptures. The works frame each other as they wipe away or meld into the architecture of the gallery. Reimer’s sculptures seem to mutually reference a presumptive knowledge surrounding the everyday object, but this knowledge becomes negated through the qualities that formalism brings to the mundane. Her quiet sculptures highlight minute relationships between objects and speak volumes of their material tensions as well as their overall placement across the series of work.
Wood plays on the unadulterated space of the canvas, using methods of cutting and pasting common maps alongside paint and ink. Their compositional interplay is perhaps best described to be at “street level”. Not that they fit into street-arts but their forms and materials reference a given site as well as their external world. These marks come from our surrounding architecture as well as what we have felt through the last half century of painting. Wood’s Untitled series asks for the same level of engagement as when we walk through a city that has been fabricated before our arrival or inevitable contribution, imposing standardized marks of abstraction.
These three artists present the everyday in a state between beginning and completing: a space of emergence – of process – of coming into being. Disciplines, ideologies and materials cross-fertilize in Anatomize Obfuscation to form a re-interpretation of these now reified objects. Looking at the exhibition space as a collaborative template, it oscillates between moments of construction and deconstruction as the everyday becomes aesthetic information to manipulate. Not only does the nature of collaboration as well as Martinez’s installation speak of the animate figure, Anatomize Obfuscation also cements the space of abstraction as being made by and for the body. This aesthetic tendency is of the vernacular and remains to be a latent motivation for architecture, design and art. The enigmatic tendencies of the surreal and uncanny manifest just as graphic lines and formal materials work alongside our bodies.