About Others' Works

 

Robert Enright - The Spirit of the West

exhibition review, "Young Winnipeg Artists" Plug In ICA. The Globe and Mail, May 10, 2003.

-transcribed excerpt below-

 

"In a recent issue of the British art magazine Modern Painters, Winnipeg was described as "a volcano of creativity." The reference was provoked by the activities of the Royal Art Lodge, a Winnipeg collective whose most recent group show, "Ask the Dust," drew critical praise and large audiences to the Drawing Center in New York and the Power Plan in Toronto. But itcould just as easily be a general description of the visual arts activities in this city of about 650,000, situated in the geographical centre of the North American continent.

Now, the most recent eruption of the local art scene is on exhibition at Plug In ICA. Young Winnipeg Artists, a group show of 15 artists ranging in age from 23to 33, is curated by Carol Phillips, the gallery's director, and by artist and university professor Cliff Eyland. The show makes no attempt to be inclusive orexhaustive. In Eyland's sense of things, "YWA contstitutes a curatorial best guess," a measure of who looks good enough today to bank on looking even better tomorrow...

...The pair of artists who are odd-people out in the YWA exhibition are KC Adams and Risa Horowitz. Both have included ambitious multimedia installations... It is an elegant, quirky piece that has the visual equivalence of perfect pitch. So does melitzah (which means utterance), Horowitz's obsessive and tantalizing journey into the aural, imaginative and visual dimensions of language. Everything about the piece looks restrained, while everything about its production speaks to a kind of contained madness. Horowitz took the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and then read, recorded and produced computer-generated waveforms of almost every word in the book. The result is 138 perfectly bound white volumes that contain a waveform for each word (they look like a cross between an Henri Michaux drawing and an embryonic Rorschach test), more than 22 hours of continuous recording, and a computer station where the viewer can enter any word and immediately hear what it sounds like and see what it looks like.

You end up playing language games with melitzah, letting your fingers first utter obscenities and then attempt seductions. You try everything from lines of poetry to the simplest of words, so that you can consider their sound and shape. It is a completely captivating installation, a three-year-long project that will entertain the senses of viewers for periods longer than the duration of its making.

Young Winnipeg Artists is an odd miscellany of art and with Morin at one end and Horowitz at the other: the young and emerging smartly joined at the hips, to the older and thoroughly emerged. What it tells about Winnipeg art is that it's a rough beast, parts of which are struggling to be born, while other parts are already in the open air, uttering sounds that have a bizarre and unexpected resonance that doesn't sound like the rest of canada."


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