Thursday, December 18, 2008

History of Monsters, Group Show, ArtsHab, November 20 - December 18, REVIEWED by Erin Carter

History of Monsters is a collection of works by the habitants and guests of the Arts Habitat building on 106 st. and 102 ave. When I walked through the doors I felt like I was walking into the secret of the lonely and the repressed. The title of the show is based on a manuscript by Ulisse Androvandi that was published posthumously in 1642. As an exhibition platform, artists were invited to express their own battle with both internal and external monsters, and collectively they have placed their personal demons on public display.

Bill Richards' "Music" established a spooky audio atmosphere and a series of photographs by Christopher Payne set the visual tone. Greeted with what looks like ventricles of a heart shot at high resolution, Christopher Payne gets to the point that “A Little Flesh” can stir up a gruesome tale. Going deeper, bacteria and disease are the monsters that haunt the framed photos by Jody Tychkowsky. An obsessive compulsive nightmare, a “Monstrous Production” creates a dialogue in my mind about the internal struggle to keep things orderly and germ free and how it is demolished with a magnified depiction of the infectious pests.

Then we get to the occult. A series of paintings by Tristan McClelland portrays Celtic symbols, hypnotic lines and schizophrenic outbursts. McClleland’s ritualistic method roots itself into the shadow world of crosses and blood stains, nightmares and back alley mayhem. Similarly, Devon Beggs' depiction of “Heroine” with a broken down shadow of a skeleton not only worked with the outer shell of the word monster, but also turned the symbol inward showing the daily monster that some people have to deal with.

Throughout the display, Bill Richards' soundtrack of shadow music complimented the visual underworld creations. All in all the artists worked with their own caricatures’ of fear making the show a bit unbalanced. Each set made sense, even though some were shouting much louder than the other. It is strange to see such monstrosity after Halloween and so close before the Christmas season, but I’ve seen those demon shoppers and maybe the Christmas spirit needs a little mirror slapped in its face.

Artists: Caitlin Sian Richards, Devon Beggs, Jody Tychowsky, Christopher Payne and Tristan McClleland. Featuring music by Bill Richards.

- E.C. Edmonton

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