Sunday, October 12, 2008

Latitude 53, September 20 - October 18, 2008, REVIEWS BY ERIN CARTER

Design for a Dialogue Flutura and Besnik Haxhillari Latitude 53

What does it mean to be in “permanent migration”? After reading the
artist statement for Design for a Dialogue by Flutura and Besnik Haxhillari
I knew that I would be walking into Latitude 53 with a feeling that this
particular exhibit would be a bit over my head. The first visual I came
into contact with is a six-foot photograph of a naked man standing and
holding a stiff naked woman across his chest. The next photo is that of
the same naked woman sitting in the chair coddling the same naked man to
her bosom as if he were a child. All right. So the Haxhillari’s want to
“embody the legendary figure of travel: Gulliver. So they’ve decided to
go by the name of the two Gullivers and take video footage of their
transparent plastic suitcase in airports.

As I stand in the shadowy L of Latitude 53 and watch a video display of
two people painting a heart shape in reds and blacks on a canvas, I
listen to the orchestral music playing in the background. All right
they want to create a dialogue. At this point in the show if I had a
companion I would have looked to them and asked “What is this saying to
you?” Only all that I could turn to was the artist statement that
replied, “The heart is the metaphorical centre for all that is human and
watching these two people violently attack the canvas with paint while
violins rupture the silence of concentration means?” What exactly? So we
have a heart created in front of us, then we have photographs of the
opposite sex holding each other. The man is more powerful so he can
stand and hold the woman’s body weight. Why is she all stretched out in
his arms and he coddled into her arms? To me this says something about
the male/female relationship i.e. men protect with the physical strength
and woman protect with their emotional strength. The concept of looking
at something deeply and then understanding the conversation the artist
has created on canvas, video or photo is very important to me. At this
point I am completely confused and feel like I’m pulling boulders
through needle holes.

The two Gullivers (as they like to be called) like to work with
transparent objects. Reading through the statement again I understand
slightly that the media is the transparent mask that blocks us from
reality. I watch the video of the performance piece of a large number
of people holding transparent masks in front of there face and look for
any clues that could possibly lead me to the conclusion of media versus
reality. The text explained everything. The art did not. It turns out
I’m just a prairie girl with a love for the arts. I know that people are
smarter and more educated than me, but I feel this show benefits people
working on their PhD in the fine arts as well as studying the two
Gullivers as their thesis project. It’s way over my head and even though
it hurts to say this, I know I’m ignorant to their method of
communicating important messages.

Building My House Rebekah Miller

Next door to Design for a Dialogue in the ProjEX Room I greet wispy
hand printed panels of a prairie house. Hanging from the ceiling of
Latitude 53 Rebekah Miller has created her exhibition Building My House
and a sigh of relief in me. Recently graduating from the printmaking
department of the Alberta College of Art and Design, Miller has used her
printmaking education to handcraft walls, doors and windows of a shack
belonging to the floating, airy conscious and subconscious of the
prairie psyche.

The door gracefully dances with the air exchange in Latitude 53 as I
think about all the doors I’ve physically and mentally slammed and
opened in my life. A conscious built by walls of family learnt
tendencies and heritage passed down from each generation while offering
windows of escape and rebellion. This house holds all the hidden
crevices of personality and has the ability to keep our best secrets
boxed in the dusty attic. A building that keeps us safe, but also has
the power to lock us in. Caught up in a moment of repose I remember that
Miller will be coming in and adding to the house during the next couple
of weeks and wonder what new addition will capture my imagination.

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