Thursday, December 18, 2008

Passages,Lynn Malin and Elizabeth Beauchamp, Harcourt House, November 27 - December 20, 2008 REVIEWED by Erin Carter

Sometimes having the ability to fly, swoop and swoon over the flatlands of the Edmonton area on a nice summers day would be amazing. Watching the square patches of ripe canola surround the green fields of wheat. The lines drawn by farmers meet up with the fine line of perfectly placed patches of spruce trees. Man vs. Nature is a heavy theme played out in Passages, a collaberation of works by Lynn Malin and Elizabeth Beauchamp.

Quoting from Malin’s artist statement, “Why is it so seductive…to change something that doesn’t need changing?” Malin started this exhibit with an exacto knife and a point: we as people attempt to control nature with fences and crops. This time Lynn decided to rip apart previously painted works, once imbued in sunlit prairie scenes and now blended together as a bird’s eye patchwork of natural contours and man-made fences. Each painting is also held in a box that lights up when you walk past, illuminating and capturing the raw imagery of the Edmonton potpourri prairies.

At the back of the room the projected shadow of a plastic tree swaying softly in the wind stands tall. To the left a text to Tom Thomson explains how all trees are now plastic. "Texting Tom" articulates Beauchamp’s view of natures' battle against the elements with the reference of Jack Pine (which struggled against rock and wind to find it’s perch) by Tom Thomson by using the shadow of a plastic tree to inform us of what our future may be. The text is written in a very naïve tone and creates a total acceptance to the fact that nature has been replaced by plastic.

Working together Malin mocks the boundaries of human control over nature and Beauchamp warns us of what’s to come if we don’t let up our grip. Malin’s zig zag maps of cultivated land unfolds the truth that the natural setting of what Edmonton looked like before the settlers arrived no longer exists. With each new development and each new passage, we are moving closer to living in plastic land.

Image credit: Lynn Malin, 2008

- E.C. Edmonton

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