May 13, 2021

Elaine Cameron-Weir

Henry Art Gallery at University of Washington

View of STAR CLUB REDEMPTION BOOTH, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, 2021. Photo: Jonathan Vanderweit.

Throughout her work in sculpture and writing, Elaine Cameron-Weir (b. 1985, Canada) grapples with questions of individual and collective human survival, while also considering the potential for renewal and transformation in states of being and forms of knowledge. Her work is informed by belief systems that structure how people make sense and meaning of the world—from science and religion to the nation state. Often repurposing objects with previous scientific, medical, or military functions, Cameron-Weir creates exquisitely assembled forms that conjure speculative uses or ritual applications in times past and future.

For her exhibition at the Henry, Cameron-Weir has created new work that considers the void left in the wake of loss. At the center of the installation are two scultpures, Low Relief Icon (Figure 1) and Low Relief Icon (Figure 2), in which human-sized, metal cases—US military equipment for transporting bodily remains—serve as counterweights to conveyor belts that rise up from the ground like suspended bodily stand-ins. Each adorned with a cast pewter disk emblazoned with the repeating image of a crucifix, these sculptures interrogate the role that ideas of transcendence and sacrifice play in social systems that arbitrate the value of corporeal existence. Cast from a mold typically used in the mass production of cheap metal trinkets, the pewter disks reinforce the operations of the conveyor belts, making uncomfortable connections between bodies, commodities, and disposability. In another sculpture titled Left Hand Right Hand, Grinds A Fantasizer's Dust, a reimagined funerary backdrop vibrates with neon light and theatrical spotlights. The result turns a tool of mourning into a performative object with allusions to commerce and artifice that suggests the potential exploitation of human vulnerability. Cameron-Weir’s choice of a modular, metal floor—conventionally used as subflooring to hide cables—creates a reflective, stage-like setting that emphasizes the conditions of illusion echoed throughout the installation. The sculptures themselves read as portable props that could be moved and reassembled, reproducing the story they tell elsewhere.

STAR CLUB REDEMPTION BOOTH casts doubt on the promise of progress and benevolence woven into official narratives and peddled by authority figures, and considers the potential created when familiar frameworks lose meaning and the machinations of systems become visible. Through the dual references to death and rebirth and evocations of hope as well as foreboding inside her installation, Cameron-Weir asks, what expires and what survives when things fall apart: does the corruption of old models adapt, or could alternative ways of being prevail in these future worlds?

Elaine Cameron-Weir earned a BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design and an MFA from the New York University Steinhardt School. She is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. Select solo exhibitions include exhibit from a dripping personal collection, Dortmunder Kunstverein, Dortmund, Germany (2018); Outlooks: Elaine Cameron-Weir, Storm King Art Center, New York (2018); and Elaine Cameron-Weir: viscera has questions about itself, New Museum, New York (2017). She has shown nationally and internationally in group exhibitions at the Remai Modern, Saskatoon, Canada; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Fellbach Small Sculpture Triennial, Fellbach Germany, among others. Her work is held in numerous collections, including those of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

Elaine Cameron-Weir: STAR CLUB REDEMPTION BOOTH is organized by Nina Bozicnik, Curator.

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