TEN: Photo-based Work by 10 Artists

Artists: Andjelka Jovanic, Adam Devenish, Bob Black, Diana Shearwood, Elzbieta Kurowska, Holly Lee, Janet Potter, Kamelia Pezeshki, Steve Stober, Yam Lau

Opening on Sat, 7 February, 2015 (3-6 pm)

Gallery 50
50 Gladstone Ave

Yam Lau

Yam Lau

…I am not a photographer. I have always hesitated with respect to the “artistic” in photography…

- TEN, my first photography exhibition, issues a call for me to circumvent the “artistic” in photography through photography…

I found two old frames in my garage and executed the following steps:

    •    I painted the frames in a pale, silver grey to calibrate them with the quality of light in my studio. With this, I hoped to “lodge” the frames in their environment.

    •    I photographed the frames (at an angle). The lighting in the photograph is an attempt to register this effort to calibrate the frames with the place.

    •    The angled views offset the frames from their customary frontal position. I present them as slightly turning, or retreating from the world.

    •    I placed the photographs back into the same frame, in order to secure a kind of correspondence between the inside and the outside, the image and the actual frame.

Looking at the works, I feel they have accomplished a state of quiet composure –where the inside and the outside reside and fulfill in each other through mutual appropriation.

I want to thank Gallery 50 for inviting me, someone who is not a photographer to participate in TEN.

(Yam Lau - Born in Hong Kong, Yam Lau is an artist/writer based in Toronto. His creative work explores new expressions and qualities of space, time and the image through the application of computer-animation and digital video. In addition, Lau has initiated a number of independent projects such as using a donkey (Donkey Institute of Contemporary Art, Beijing, China) as an on-going mobile project space. He is represented Galerie Antonie Ertaskiran in Montreal and Yuanfen New Media Art Space in Beijing, China. Currently, Lau is professor of visual art at York University Toronto.)

Steve Stober

Steve Stober

Truth, lies and myth form the justification for most wars.  The one that started in French Indochina in the early 1950s, culminating in the Cambodian civil war in 1979, is no exception. 

April 30, 2015 will mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the war in Vietnam, the "American War," as it’s referred to, by the Vietnamese. 
In 1975, Richard Nixon authorized the use of long-range B-52 heavy bombers to "carpet bomb"  neighbouring Cambodia.  Between 1965 and 1973, the U.S. dropped 2.7 million tons of explosives - more than the Allies dropped in the entirety of World War II - on Cambodia.
The bombing created a reaction leading to the rise of the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot.  And so began a bloody tirage of murder of the Cambodian people, from 1975 to 1979.

Among the shocking discoveries in the aftermath, was that the Khmer Rouge had systematically slaughtered those they thought were not deemed worthy of the Revolution.  Witness the Killing Fields on a farm near Phnom Penh, and a former French-built high school turned prison and execution ground, called S-21, where as many as two million Cambodians, a quarter of the population, were imprisoned, then killed.

In  2014, I visited and photographed both these sites.  Like the concentration camps of the Holocaust, S-21 and the Killing Fields have been left as found by the Vietnamese after the War, kept as examples for present and future generations of the atrocities man is capable of.  

As I wandered about in silence, my thoughts were on the genocide and the people who suffered. Death is still and silent, yet the memory of terror echoes from the walls, corridors and hallways of these slaughterhouses.   May the souls of those who perished rest in peace, in a better world.

The two photographs I am showing were shot with a plastic toy camera on medium format black and white film, then printed archivally in a traditional darkroom. For this project, using a camera known for its light leaks, distortion and non-critical focus seemed particularly appropriate to me.

(Steve Stober is a portraitist born in Montreal in 1955.   In a career spanning over 30 years, he has photographed people from all walks of life in many parts of the world. Steve Stober's work is known for its authenticity, originality and a sense of social justice.  He still shoots some of his work on film, particularly portraits and nudes, and hand-prints archivally in a traditional darkroom. His last major exhibition in 2008, "This Is My Body", focused on women's body issues.  A more recent exhibition in 2012, "Hotel Tropicoco and the Cuban Revolution" focused on the idiosyncrasies of present-day life in Cuba as seen from the interior of a Russian-era resort in Eastern Havana.)

Holly Lee

Holly Lee

My curiosity in seeing things differently always leads me to work a bit out of the norm. One’s consists of a group of objects connected to me in certain points of my life. A photograph, a bowl, a small figurine, a paper cup, a postcard. Instead of a flat surface, I present them front and back, as if the object is being touched, and examined on one's hand. Every object is a slice of life, a pause to a continuing dream.

(Holly Lee is a Hong Kong-born artist, who has lived and worked in Toronto for seventeen years.)

Diana Shearwood

In June of 1984 I travelled to Igloolik in the Eastern Arctic at the time of 24-hour sun. My brother was working as a teacher at the local primary school. During my month-long stay I photographed daily life both in the town and on the land during Spring Camp. I shot many rolls of Kodachrome with my brand new Nikon FM. Upon my return I showed the slides to a few friends and then carefully stashed them in a metal filing cabinet where they have remained ever since. Now, after all these years, I decided it was time they again saw the light of day.

(Diana Shearwood is a photographer who lives in Montréal. Solo exhibitions of her work have been presented at Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, The Darling Foundry, Articule, and Galerie Éric Devlin in Montréal, Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto, Silver Eye Center for Photography in Pittsburgh, and the Nordic House in Reykjavík, Iceland. She has exhibited in group shows as part of Le Printemps du Québec à Paris and Québec à New York (The Kitchen), and at Western Front in Vancouver, The Photographic Resource Center in Boston, and the Houston Center for Photography in Texas.
Her photographs can be found in public, corporate, and private collections such as the Carnegie Museum of Art, Canada Council Art Bank, Fasken Martineau Art Bank, the University of Texas School of Architecture, and the Eleanor London Public Library. The series ZONE was published in book form by Behaviour Communications, and a portfolio of images from Behind the Mall appeared in FOOD (web|print), co-published by Alphabet City, Toronto and MIT Press, Cambridge.  www.dianashearwood.com)

Bob Black

Bob Black

萬里  (a fragment)  

萬里 are the first two characters in one of the names for the Great Wall of China (萬里長城) which can also be translated as the 10,000-mile Long Wall, or The Immeasurably Long Wall. The characters 萬里  are not only signifiers of physical distance and the endurance of that distance but also remark upon a presence that is incalculable, un-countable in the way both distance's measurement is more than a simple algebra of steps, or markers. You walk two steps yet how far have you traveled? That paradox is contained in the characters: time and movement and stories may be calculable by a given quantity but grammatically and spiritually, they remain obdurate and of their own making. The way certain nouns in English are thought of and named  'uncountable', so too the distance of a journey for the characters represent both the immeasurability of something and also its measurability simultaneous by reducing the noun to a single, collective form. A story contains the stories internal and expanding and also the armature of the story. One story, one length, or infinite.

Is a poem the story and voice of the poem itself or the individual words and sounds colliding? Neither and both.

萬里 (Wan Li,  10,000 Li (distance/miles): ,Immeasurably Long)

萬 (10,000, uncountable, immeasurable)
里 (Li, distance, length, miles, preposition of space)

This piece is a small part of a larger body of work, 萬里 , that uses small measurements in the form of individual pictures (many) as way to both navigate and measure that movement: both distance and the measuring of that distance.  The reconciliation of the distance passed and of the distance that yields in the movement ahead. How far does one travel in order to tell a story, in order to pull together what one has sung and what is yet to be heard?

A ghost story and a love story. But are they not, in the end, one and the same. 萬里
(Bob Black was born in San Diego, California and has since lived a peripatetic life, including living  throughout the United States, Taiwan and Europe and currently lives in Toronto. He is an award-winning writer and photographer whose awards include a CBC Literary Award for Poetry (Finalist) and A Visual Culture Foundation Award. He was chosen as a finalist in the first annual David Alan Harvey/Magnum Foundation Emerging Photographer Grant Award in 2008. His poetry and essays have been published in Canada, the United States, Europe and Hong Kong. His photographs have been exhibited in Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia. He is currently at work on both his first written book and what he hopes will eventually be a book of pictures.)

Elzbieta Kurowska
Elzbieta Kurowska

As a photographer and biochemist, I am fascinated by the origins of life – that moment in Earth’s history when amorphous organic matter started to self-organize and generate increasingly complex structures that made life.  In this project, I a scientific approach in combination with staged photography to visualize and capture the process of transforming inanimate organic matter into simple living organisms.

To create the images of emerging life, I am implementing a novel technique based on spectacular visual effects displayed by translucent organic gels subjected to deformations and photographed between two polarized filters.  Various organic gels, both protein-based and man-made, are first molded into abstract, three-dimensional, biological shapes using physical manipulations such as like heating, cooling, bending, folding and compressing. The translucent gel sculptures are subsequently assembled and staged on a light box, illuminated and then photographed between polarizer filters. In the dark cross-polarized light field, local tensions in the most deformed areas of the gel structures become visible as spectacular bursts of light and rainbow colours. The close-up photography setup allows me to modulate these light effects by applying “through the lens” adjustments in object’s position, illumination, degree of light polarization and camera angle.  The images are captured when I recognize the perfect moment of transformation from inanimate abstract gel structures into living creatures made out of light – Light Forms.

Light Forms depict nature’s unstoppable eagerness to create life from any available bits and pieces of organic matter.  Indeed, organic gels built of large, complex molecules seem to be perfectly predisposed to act as nature’s Lego blocks.  As in real life, they only need subtle encouragement of mild stress to self-organize and to form life-resembling structures.

The images of fantastic creatures made out of light and colours reveal the universal, cosmic aspect of life.  Light Forms look otherworldly, like privileged snapshots of alien life developing and evolving in a remote corner of the Universe.  At the same time, we find these images familiar; they can resemble specimens observed under a microscope, or some unknown creatures encountered in the deepest ocean abyss.  It seems that we are attuned to recognize the essence of life in all forms.

Creating Light Forms feels like creating life itself.  When I design my gel sculptures from shreds of translucent organic matter, the outcome is delightfully unpredictable.  The perfect moment when I am able to recognize and capture the transformation from a pale, uninspiring form into a glowing and shimmering image resembling something “alive” may or may not happen; this depends on factors beyond my control.  When I am lucky enough to catch this rare moment, I feel like nature itself offered me an unexpected gift of beauty.

The process that leads me to this breathtaking realization becomes a metaphor for origins and evolution of life, with all its elements of trial and error, simplicity versus complexity, and unplanned joyous serendipity.

(Elzbieta Kurowska is a Toronto-based photographer as well as a researcher in the field of biochemistry.  In her works she implements her science background to explore and visualize overpowering forces that compel the natural world to create and develop life.  To produce her otherworldly images of emerging life she employs an original technique which combines elements of photography, biochemistry and material science.  Her works have been presented at several national and international exhibitions and have won a number of photography awards.)

Kamelia Pezeshki

Kamelia Pezeshki

Scattered is a collection of black and white photographs of personal or sometimes coincidental objects shot throughout the years. Its a diary of my everyday experiences: anything from the coffee cup form which my mother just read my fortune to the flower that I found on the street.
Although my aim is to create perfect harmony between light and form, making a photograph is an intuitive response to that decisive moment, a tool for communication.

(Kamelia Pezeshki - Born in Iran in 1963 and educated at the University of Utah, today Pezeshki makes her home in the city of Toronto. The frenetic chaos of Canada’s largest city is conspicuously absent from her work, which focuses instead undermining contemporary photography’s inclination towards digital manipulation through introspective painterly sensibility and traditional, hands-on engagement with the work.  Pezeshki hand prints and frames each print. With quiet persistence, her portraits and composed still lifes employ a sure visual rhetoric that encourages focus and contemplation on the moments and people so easily bypassed or taken for granted. )

Adam Devenish
Adam Devenish is a multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto, working in themes of mythology, life & death, and transmigration in a magic-realism manner.  He graduated from Sheridan School of Craft & Design (SOCAD), studying ceramics under Winn Burke and Bruce Cochrane. Adam's current practice is largely photo-based, with the creative process informed with a sculptural methodology, typically incorporating both tactile & tangible elements into his artwork.

His recent works are an attempt to capture a representation of where dreams and reality intersect, exploring imagined worlds that are so removed from what we know and understand to be real, yet retaining a dream-like familiarity & vividness. Being able to reference what is unfamiliar or indistinguishable to what is natural and recognizable, allows for a relatable and intimate inner dialogue to take place.

Through the series 'Fossil Fools', bilaterally symmetrical fossil samples are suggested, and encourage reflection on our own mortality as well as the marks we leave behind.
Fossils take us on a journey, connecting us to a past we can largely only imagine to anticipated futures we can only dream about. Past life often leaves markers that deteriorate over time or simply can't been seen, yet the desire to preserve history and memories through photographs, diaries, for example, and now inevitably through social media are ever present. As we further embrace the digital age, integrating this ever-advancing technology deeper into our lives, digitally archived 'future fossils' will act to define our existence and inform generations to come.

Janet Potter

Janet Potter

As an Artist I have become totally indulged in urban environments and the surrounding nature from Newfoundland to Northern Ontario to Vancouver Island B. C. I’m extremely passionate about my art and use my tolls to dream the dreams, see the visions, sketch intricate detailed plans, and take the time to feel and view every aspect of my creation. My mediums include personal writings and drawing, partial personal photo transfers, silk screenings accompany with various mediums process onto Japanese Washi Paper, Milk Carton and Tea Bag Paper and Mylar Paper including Aluminum or Various Canvases to create a Zen like Viewing.

(Janet Potter is a Professional Mixed Media Artist who has exhibited her Art Works across Canada and the USA. She is recognized for her Artistic Mixed Media Creations using various mediums, recycle materials and her various process of Japanese Washi Paper..She has also received and International Award for her Japanese Washi Paper Art in the 2008 Toronto, Washi Paper Summit plus has one Art Book currently exhibiting in the Maritime Museum in Halifax, N.S. and two Art Books in the Brooklyn Library Art Museum. Janet previously was a Co-Curator for the Member Exhibits at the Women’s Art Association of Canada (2011-2014) and an active member of the Artist Network of Riverdale.)

Andjelka Jovanic

Andjelka Jovanic

Defragmented Memory
There are moments and times that exist while often captured either mechanically or through our senses. We consciously or dreamingly store them in the memory or in other puzzled places such as brain, our eyes, hard disks… Life is happening fast, information gets rearranged, our senses weaken, some we avoid to recall, some suddenly disappear, some I still hear them smiling, and others we decide to exhibit as photographic memory if the environment is kind enough to support us. Are our minds limited or maybe too complex and chaotic to organize these memory flashes logically? I use the concept of one of my childhood toys to help me optimize the extracted pieces of my past which then becomes the depiction of my memory in the present. In my magnetic flatland, the abstract segments slide and link to create a real self expression and to recreate what happened. To others, this process of tiling may have different turns as those people may have seen events differently than how they have occurred to me.

(Here I am at the INDEXG Gallery showing some of my photos again.
Many years ago one of my interests was motion pictures, so I got my Film and Video Communications BA degree at City University in NYC; then I moved to Canada and completed a video editing program in Toronto, worked on 2D animations for a post-production house; followed by getting a 20D Canon that served me well through Concordia University program in Montreal (where I presently live) successfully completing a photography certificate; then I got a 5DMarkII Canon with all the fancy lens attachments (especially loving my macro glass capable of extracting unrecognizable shapes from the obvious) which are now all too heavy for me to carry them around casually. Convenience and playfulness led me to use smaller and smaller cameras (Fuji X100 and iPhone). Even though, my devices became more flat, my world expanded since nothing stays unnoticed by my intrigued sensors whose recordings are mostly saved and I’m happily reminded of them at some points during my journey.)