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Topographies: Matter and Memory
An Exhibition Essay by Randy Innes
Patrick Mikhail Gallery is pleased to present Topographies, an exhibition of new work by multi-media and installation artist Deborah Margo. Topographies explores the experience of place, the work of memory and remembrance, and the sensory potential of texture, colour and the hand-crafted object.
Topographies is a series of six knitted works that act as visual records of Margo’s recent travels through Europe. Knitting occupies the hands. The material qualities of wool evoke the sense of touch and suggest the personal connection and care associated with the hand-made scarf or sweater. Margo turned to knitting during her travels both as a way of passing time, and as a way of weaving time and experience together into a visual, material form. Time and touch are deposited into each stitch, establishing a connection between the viewer’s apprehension of the works, Margo’s experience of knitting, and the impressions and experiences that inspired this project. The desire to establish connections between materials, work and visual experience that we find in Topographies is central to Margo’s practice more broadly.
If the time and touch of the artist are deposited in these objects, so too are the places they reference. The name Margo has given to each piece is a place-holder, a toponym that designates her presence and experience at that place. Topographies is, in this way, a visual journaling exercise, a graphic inscription and visual narration by the artist of her experience of place in the work of art. Topographies collects and represents the experience of place through knitting, a practice that, like writing and weaving, follows a linear unfolding in time and space. The word text shares a connection with the word weave, and just as the written word invites us to negotiate text, reading and imagination, Topographies invites us into the play that occurs between the patterns of individual stitches, the impression of the finished object, and the work of reading and interpretation.
The works in Topographies are episodic impressions rather than precise records. At the Alhambra, Walking Prague’s Sidewalks, and Climbing Montjuic, for example, name specific locations and evoke specific events. Margo’s knitted works offer fragmentary impressions of place – impressions that arose first in the artist and that are transmitted now to the viewer through the colours and textures of wool and the patterns of stitches. Each impression has the effect of a snapshot, establishing a connection with experience and place. Material is central to this snapshot: the wool used in Topographies was selected and purchased at the places named in the works. The geometrical patterns in At the Alhambra are made with wool bought in the Andalusian capital. The colours of Moorish tilework guide Margo’s choice of wool colour here, just as the aquamarines of Venice’s canals and the earth tones of Siena direct her selection in Italian Diamonds. And Walking Prague’s Sidewalks is a warm and inviting exploration of the colours and textures of old cobblestone walkways along which the artist collected these very materials.
Margo’s response to the material quality of these works extends beyond texture and colour to include a concern for how knitted wool might occupy space and produce an effect for the viewer. Knitted wools have their own properties, and different wools behave differently. In Topographies each piece hangs and unfolds according to the disposition of each stitch and in response to the wool Margo used. Curling, binding, and bunching contribute to the sense that these works are exploring the properties of wool. Yet Topographies also refers to the qualities of specific experiences and impressions. Her use of materials is never relegated to the cold arguments of minimalism, but remains tied to the intimacy of experience and the work of memory.
The Colour of Waiting marks a shift from works that initiate a dynamic evocation of place, to an experience of place as static or dull. Travel is often punctuated with a suspended or expanded sense of time. In this piece Margo gives life to the experience of a grey, drab international airport whose efficiency had been further encumbered by labour strikes. Warm grey wools mitigate the paralyzing experience of waiting on cold, hard airport chairs. And a gesture trails off from the end of this work, a thread of memory or experience that remains tied to a stone that Margo collected on a Spanish beach. The memorial distinctness of this touchstone – the intervention of the specific in the general – along with the inviting textures of The Colour of Waiting remind us of the dependence that travel has on the dehumanizing experience of transportation. Similarly, in Climbing Montjuic the figurative evocation of this Catalonian landmark trails off into the indifferent potential of a rolled up ball of wool.
Topographies points to recent travels and personal experiences, and to an only slightly more distant European past that the artist remains concerned with and connected to. Yet the series also points forward, like an album of family photographs or a travel narrative, to the promise of a future time of recollection and legibility. Topographies weaves together the time of presence in place, the work of memory and remembrance, and the immediacy of experience, into an affective and evocative installation. It will take some work for us to get from here to there, and the experience of this journey is central to Margo’s Topographies.
PATRICK MIKHAIL GALLERY PRESENTS “TOPOGRAPHIES” AN EXHIBITION OF NEW WORK BY MULTI-MEDIA ARTIST DEBORAH MARGO
FEBRUARY 20 TO MARCH 23, 2013
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2013
5:30 P.M. TO 9 P.M.
SUNDAY, MARCH 17, 2013
PATRICK MIKHAIL GALLERY is pleased to present TOPOGRAPHIES, an exhibition of new work by multi-media and installation artist DEBORAH MARGO. The exhibition explores the experience of place, the work of memory and remembrance, and the sensory potential of texture, colour, and the hand-crafted object.
In TOPOGRAPHIES, Margo presents a series of knitted works and drawings that act as visual records of her recent travels through Europe. During this time, Margo turned to knitting as a way of weaving time and experience together into a visual, material form. Time and touch are deposited into the stitch of every knitted work, establishing a connection between the viewer’s apprehension of the works, Margo’s experience of knitting, and the artist’s impressions of the places and experiences that inspired these works. In this way, TOPOGRAPHIES is a visual journaling exercise, a graphic inscription, and visual narration by the artist of her experience of place in the work of art. Topographies invites us into the play that occurs between the patterns of individual stitches, the impression of the finished object, and the work of reading and interpretation.
Margo’s knitted works offer fragmentary impressions of place, with each impression having the effect of a snapshot, establishing a connection with experience and place. Material is central to this snapshot: the wool used in Topographies was purchased or collected at or very near the places named in the works. The geometrical patterns in At the Alhambra are made with wool bought in the Andalusian capital. The colours of Moorish tilework guide Margo’s wool choices, just as the aquamarines of Venice’s canals and the earth tones of Sienna direct her selection of wool for a portion of Italy. And Walking Prague’s Sidewalks is a warm and inviting exploration of the colours and textures of old cobblestone walkways along which the artist collected these very colours.
Deborah Margo is not interested in grand events, or in monuments to commemorate them. Instead, she finds wonder in the everyday and in the task of tracking time. Her art practice has combined a variety of disciplines including sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, and ephemeral installations, questioning the contextual identities of public and private spaces. These ideas have been effectively investigated in solo and group exhibitions across Canada at the Owens Art Gallery, Ottawa Art Gallery, Modern Fuel Gallery, Mendel Art Gallery, DARE-DARE Centre de diffusion d’art multidisciplinairede Montréal, and at Calgary’s Truck Gallery. From January 26 to April 14, 2013, Margo appears in the exhibition BOXED IN at THE ROOMS in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Deborah Margo is a faculty member in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa where she teaches drawing, painting, and sculpture. Her work can be found in the collections of the Ottawa Art Gallery, City of Ottawa Collection, and the Owens Art Gallery. She has written about the visual arts for a number of media outlets and publications including AKIMBO and Border Crossings. She holds a B.F.A. from Montreal’s Concordia University and an M.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia.
PATRICK MIKHAIL GALLERY and Deborah Margo would like to thank RANDY INNES for his assistance in creating the exhibition text for TOPOGRAPHIES. To download and read an original essay by Randy Innes entitled “Topographies: Matter and Memory” please visit the gallery’s Website at www.patrickmikhailgallery.com/exhibitions/.
Randy Innes is a visual and cultural theorist. He holds a Ph.D. in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester, and an M.A. in Theory and Criticism from the University of Western Ontario.
IN OTHER GALLERY NEWS…
We are pleased to announce PATRICK MIKHAIL GALLERY is participating in VOLTA NY, the invitational New York art fair held each spring in conjunction with The Armory Show. The gallery will be presenting a solo project of the works of 2011 RBC Canadian Painting Competition finalist AMY SCHISSEL. Schissel’s site-specific, multi-media installation entitled “Cyber Fields” has been conceived and created for Volta NY and will be on view at the fair’s new location at 82 Mercer Street in SOHO from March 7 to 10, 2013. For more information, please contact the gallery or visit http://www.voltashow.com/
Congratulations to PMG artists AMY SCHISSEL, ANDREW WRIGHT, and JINNY YU for their nominations at last week’s Sweetheart Cocktail for the Arts sponsored by the Council for the Arts in Ottawa. AMY SCHISSEL was nominated for the RBCEmerging Artist Award, while ANDREW WRIGHT and JINNY YU were each nominated for the Mid-Career Artist Award, sponsored by Ginsberg Gluzman Fage & Levitz, LLP, and Mann & Partners, LLP. For more
information please visit http://arts-ottawa.on.ca/
STEPHEN BROOKBANK is currently on view at the Art Gallery of Hamilton Design Annex. His exhibition QUIET NIGHTS features all-new photo works that investigate the night as “a time of reflection, a time to open ourselves to new potential and possibilities.” From February 8 to April 13, 2013. For details: http://www.artgalleryofhamilton.com/
JESSICA AUER appears in VIEWS FROM MONTREAL ISLAND ABC : MTL at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal from January 31 to March 31, 2013. ABC : MTL is the third in a series of exhibitions at the CCA investigating the development of Montréal. For more information, please visit the Website of the Canadian Centre for Architecture at http://www.cca.qc.ca/en
KRISTOPHER KARKLIN appears in the 2013 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art in the exhibition "The News From Here: The 2013 Alberta Biennial Of Contemporary Art" at the Art Gallery of Alberta from January 26 to May 5, 2013. Curated by Nancy Tousley the exhibition features 36 artists from nine Alberta communities and explores the theme of post-regionalism in Alberta art. For more information please visit the Art Gallery of Alberta Website at: http://www.youraga.ca/
OLGA CHAGAOUTDINOVA appears in SPLENDID ISOLATION at Calgary’s ESKER FOUNDATION from January 19 to April 21, 2013. Curated by Esker Foundation Artistic Director, Naomi Potter, the exhibition presents two very different approaches to the making and development of photography in Alberta; each work connected by a tangible, yet uncanny sense of continuity across place, time, and, culture. For more information visit: http://www.eskerfoundation.com/
CHERYL PAGUREK’s video work WAVE PATTERNS will be screened as part of the 31st International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) in Montreal this March, in the section "Arts médiatiques - Diagonales". The festival runs from March 14 to 24, 2013. For more information about FIFA please visit http://www.artfifa.com/
OPENING NEXT AT PATRICK MIKHAIL GALLERY….We present NORWEGIAN WOOD an exhibition of drawings and sculpture by new media conceptual artist ADRIAN GÖLLNER from April 3 to May 6, 2013.
For more information:
PATRICK MIKHAIL GALLERY
2401 Bank Street