Violence as motif carries Shelley Rothenburger’s works. Violence as implicit in “The Melting Point of Ice” series, or violence as subtext in the “Eat Mine Raw/Love is Simple ” show she currently shares with Kat Vedah.
Image credit: Shelley Rothenburger, Play-off Make-up (series), acrylic, oilstick and collage on canvas, 2007
In “The Melting Point of Ice,” the imagery of blood on ice, Canada’s national colours, extends itself into a series of tribal, energetic installments that reconfigure the idea of sportsmanship. Professional hockey players appear more like bulky street fighters, Wayne Gretzky becomes an evil bat-like monster, and Don Cherry, well, has never looked better.
The wall series “Abstract with Skates, Pucks, Sticks, and Broke Nose” collectively gathers our national heroes in grotesque stances that border on being a masochistic hockey card collection. Rotherburger pushes the idea that we still worship these players, bloody and beaten, who continue to engage in a violence that we as an audience cheer on and tolerate.
But the violence at play in Rothenburger’s works is not just the brute physical form; the psychological violence in “Eat Mine Raw” irrevocably does more harm in the long run. A faux portrait series of everyday males, very Albertan mustache and mullet beer bellied males, don crude t-shirts that include, “In a world full of battered women, I still have to eat mine raw.” Though admittedly this and some of the other portraits triggered a black laugh, the humour is followed by a serious darkness in knowing this is also a reality. Its existence amongst our society and our collective tolerance are forms of violence, and this form of damage is ultimately more dangerous and difficult to heal.
The Melting Point of Ice, Shelley Rothenburger, Nina Haggerty Centre, February 5 - 28th, 2008
Eat Mine Raw/Love is Simple, Shelley Rothenburger and Kat Vedah, ArtsHab Gallery, February 7 to March 13, 2008