Sunday, April 6, 2008

Material Functions, Josee Ouellette and Mandy Espezel, ArtsHab Studio Gallery, April 3 - May 8, 2008

Continuing her exploration of art as system, art as material, Josee Ouellette and fellow Institute Parachuter Mandy Espezel present new works in progress as “Material Functions.” Though one might have to approach all the exhibitions at Artshab as works in progress due to its limitations of presentation and proximity to active studios, this show is definitely still developing in form more apparently than its conceptual progress.

More familiar with Ouellette through her various memorable reincarnations of material painter, expectations on her latest work with acrylic panels and wood are high(er). It is more than evident and consciously so that the works and frames are drawn and created by the artist’s hand, but there is no distinction between a self-made attitude and a ready-made craft.

But onwards to the self contained nature of the art object as Ouellette’s artistic mandate, and on her path to creating that self-sustaining system, “Material Functions” is an interesting point of reflection.

The Oil Sands Series, which show the most promise in distinguishing her own self, the materials within each piece do interact with one another across theme and form, and it is cheeky and admirable to create a self sustaining work of art called the “Oil Sands Series.” Only the work lacks a finesse that completes the art object as an art experience. A whitewash treatment was added as a very last minute to the background, but as a whole, it is still an idea, a crude oil sands concept, that I look forward to seeing when it is indeed an Oil Sands Series.

The Institute Parachute has potential to be one of the more interesting collectives emerging in this flux in Edmonton's contemporary art scene, but be forewarned of that trap between producing the spirit of DIY work and actually pushing forward the integrity of DIY art.

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