Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Elaine Wannechko's Fluid Bodies, FAB Gallery, Reviewed by Erin Carter

Fluid Bodies gets right down to the dirty business of human excrement. The 20 digital images and two installation pieces want to talk about bile, semen, blood, vomit, miscarriage, feces and urine. As the final exhibition for Wannechko’s masters degree in drawing and intermedia, all of her images are shadowed and mixed with vivid coloured objects such as a lit up sky blue toilet contrasted with an open door into a dark room. The colour versus shadow effect is eye catching, but the image of what looked like blood (or maybe red wine vinegar mixed with olive oil) splattered across a drawer of utensils turned my stomach over more than once.

Image Credit: "Trace," Elaine Wannechko, 2007, Digital Image Ink-Jet Printed, 24" X 32"

As I walked through taking in each image and listened to the constant drip coming from one of the installation pieces, I realized the context of Wannechko’s seepage and I couldn’t help but continue staring. Even though I’m not a fan of brown stains I was challenged with the fact that judging imperfections is a much stronger feeling than enjoying a serene water painting of mountaintops in the mist. All of Wannechko’s pieces were stunning, seizing my attention as I began reflecting on how we are all trapped in our bodies and the only release we have is waste and imperfect excrement. Lured into Wannechko’s narrative I began to see what she’s trying to say through digitally imprinted images: we are all just human.

Image Credit: "Leak," Elaine Wannechko, 2007, Digital Image Ink-Jet Printed, 34.5" X 46"

The image of thick paste lacing the locks and doorknob to a front door left a feeling of entrapment in my throat. I didn’t want to touch or deal with that stuff but I also wanted freedom from that locked door. There were many images of shadowed rooms and locked cabinets, dropped or lost rags and cloth bags full of dirty brown leakage. As I went through each piece the nausea wore off and burning questions such as what is attractive versus what is ugly plagued me. She grasps the fine technique of making the ugly attractive, but still keeps the beautiful wrapped in mystery that keeps dripping.

Wannechko’s exhibit opened up a self- narrative that was not left on the front steps of the FAB Gallery; like how our waste binds our sexual identity as well as our secret lives. When I first walked in my lips curled like a little princess and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go further. Looking at smeared, bile coloured drips usually isn’t my thing. But as I went further I realized there was a point to all the gore and shadows and she made her point brilliantly. Beauty isn’t just the babe with blond hair in the corner--it’s more mysterious than that. This show is in your face with all the things that no one really wants to talk about, but with such brilliant colour contrasts you lose sight of the dripping goo and dig into meatier arguments.

Erin Carter, 29, enjoys the fine art of reading in the sun and writing in the back corner of a cramped bedroom. Music, art and the written word are majorly important to the enjoyment of her life. Erin will be writing on Prairie Artsters.com as a 2008 summer intern.

1 comment:

Sheena Edmundson said...

Erin, I usually trough through art reviews with the same enthusiasm of a four-year-old child reading Poe, but this was great...even touching I dare say!
Who knew that human excretment could be a catalyst for great writing? :). Keep doing it.
P.S Bon Iver makes me my knees weak.