September 28, 2010

Future Cinema Lab, York University, Artist in Residence Exhibition

York University
As if his throat opened into the void of stars

“As if his throat opened into the void of stars,” (2010) marks the artist’s first use of digital projection. Starting with the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland, the work interweaves documentary footage and evocative dance with electric sound. Propelled by Ovid’s story of Erysichthon’s insatiable hunger (from which the title is derived) the project traces the predicament of a highly connected world teetering between extreme interiority and exteriority. The artist proposes an environment where participation and alienation feel like the same thing, forcing us to consider the unlikely conjunction of banning strip clubs in Iceland and subsequent activity of Eyjafjallajökull not as an absurd causality but as something far more disturbing in the technological sublime.

“Already at war within,” (2010) is the second installment of the artist’s Euclid project- a serial dismembering of a rare 19th C. edition of “Elements of Geometry”. It was first exhibited at the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal in 2009. Page by page, the book is stripped of explanatory language through collage, leaving the diagrams to interact with words of another genre. In this instance, the tale of “The Four Ages,” from Ovid’s “Metamorphose” infects the demonstrations, leaving us to wonder if these fantastic stories of change have more to do with contemporary life than Euclidean concepts of linear space.

Both works in the exhibition confront the limits of scientific and poetic language. The artist’s most characteristic works are her 35mm slide dissolves projected onto screens sculpted with an unusual range of predominantly fragile – organic -material; feathers, buttons, butterflies, flowers, copper cloth. Her installations propose that meanings from disparate historical and pedagogical contexts can be released slowly over long periods and can collide and affect each other to define an era. In this way, Davis explores the relationship of contemporary experience within formative moments in modernity. As film scholar Olivier Asselin has noted, “Davis’ work establishes a link between artistic abstraction and scientific abstraction – between formal abstraction and conceptual abstraction. [F]orm is chaotic ; it is one of those complex phenomena, like climate change and liquid turbulence, which are determinate, but non-linear, and, as a result, remain largely unpredictable. As such, it prompts an epistemological reflection on the complexity of the sensible and the limits of the concept… from this perspective, her work is archaeological.”

The artist has been exhibiting since 1987, venues include Frankfurter Kunstverein, The Power Plant, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Musée de beaux arts de Montreal, Art Gallery of Ontario, Vancouver Art Gallery, Kunsthalle Munich, Haus am Waldsee, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Seoul Museum of Art., New Museum and Exit Art.

She is a founding editor of the journal PUBLIC.

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