Are You My Mother?
Are You My Mother?
Cal Lane I Colin Lyons I Clint Neufeld
October 4, 2013 – January 5, 2014
The genius of Cal Lane, Colin Lyons and Clint Neufeld lies in their capacity to create art that is an aesthetic delight, while simultaneously challenging political, social and cultural norms. Their art shatters any preconceived notions one might have about the masculine and the feminine; practicality and frivolity; ornamentation and function; absence and presence; flourishing and failing; craft and fine art…and the list goes on.
As Lyons’ points out, we live in an era marked by an accelerating pace of change, where there are ever increasing quantities of the soon to be obsolete. Planned obsolescence, the integration of its own demise into a newly manufactured object, is a widely acknowledged fact in contemporary technology. Are You My Mother? provides an opportunity to reflect on a time gone by while considering our future.
Lyons’ work focusses on the process of ruination at all stages of transformation. In Automatic Ruin a three dimensional replica of a discarded industrial object, constructed from a zinc etching plate, is fully submerged in a weak solution of copper sulfate and is actively in the process of becoming a ruin throughout the course of the exhibition. In Automatic Ruins 1 – 25, sculptural objects that have previously undergone ruination are on display as historic artifacts, and in Unfinished Ruins (Pumps) ruination is inevitable as partially transformed objects hover over the cause of their destruction.
Neufeld works with concepts of masculine identity, beauty and contradiction in the form of ceramic engines and machinery. He has taken a popular symbol of the alpha male and re-contextualized them into objects of delicate beauty, perched on top of elegant pieces of antique furniture. The furniture evokes notions of home, and assist in misdirecting our processing of these objects. Often read as portraits, they seem to take on human qualities. Sad Seahorse, a ceramic replica of a slightly wilted Seahorse engine glazed in the colour of celadon china, is elegant in its repose from its many years of work and service. Neufeld’s sculptures document and record a time past, an era before planned obsolescence took precedence; a time when there was quality, beauty and craftsmanship in functional, everyday objects.
Reminiscent of medieval tapestries and delicate lace, Lane transforms discarded industrial aluminized steel corrugated sewer pipes, rusty I-beams and used oil drums into objects of beauty. Filled with contradiction, her sculptures pull together industrial and domestic life as well as relationships of strong and delicate, masculine and feminine, practical and frivolity, ornament and function. In Gutter Snipes, a half pipe of industrial aluminized steel corrugated sewer pipe, six feet in diameter, is cut into a narrative of creatures in a city-like landscape of building and bombs, their shadows projected stencil-like against the wall, steel becoming an historical film. The metaphor of lace is also explored, intriguing by its associations of hiding and exposing at the same time, like a veil to cover, or lingerie to reveal.
Rooted in the inevitability of transformation and finding comfort in paradox, all three artists engage materials, images, concepts and processes that pull together rich and often contradictory juxtapositions of industrial and domestic life. The intrigue generated by these works, both individually and collectively, is never exhausted and the more the work is contemplated, the more the viewer is rewarded. Each of these artists understands how the combination of dissimilar objects, images and contexts can create a never ending supply of new stories and meanings.