Window Box Gallery: Dimensions of Toronto: Looking Otherwise with Nature - Gallery 1313 Toronto
Dimensions of Toronto: Looking Otherwise with Nature
March - April 2023
The Window Box Gallery at Gallery 1313
Artists: Iris Adrienne Langlois, Liz DeCoste, and Abby Kettner
Curator: Mason Smart ---
Within Dimensions of Toronto: Looking Otherwise with Nature, many of the pieces are ephemeral in a sense, especially pointed to through their translucency. There is a unity of mid-being broken by the instances of opaque metal. Oscillating visually on the border of being solid, made separate by glass, floating: this is a possibility. This is a foreign yet familiar world, making the viewer a visitor in their own habitual “Toronto-space”, here made alien, made soft and precarious. Ephemera can be a counterpart to the literal and figurative concrete.
As part of her series City Skins (2023-ongoing), Abby Kettner's latex casts respond to the symbols made manifest in Toronto’s infrastructure by isolating and manipulating them. In this process, she spotlights the sense of collective common space defined by our collective knowledge of inhabiting this space... This transcends barriers of class that can influence the way the city is experienced. This relationship could be a potent basis for dialogue. City infrastructure, as illustrated in Kettner’s work, can be an extension of self. To make these casts, Kettner must wait for the latex to cure, solidifying memory and experience, forming part of her own unique body of knowledge. City infrastructure also contributes to the construction of selfhood in its formation of a corpus of routes known, places visited, and manholes forgotten. Culture can be construed as the ephemera of being, and the material expressions of these attributes. Manifestations of culture - formal, as well as experiential - are interventions in the normative cityspace. Formal disruption of the regular rectangularity of the city is a portal, troubling the forms of Toronto and spawning multiverses.
Liz DeCoste’s Transfiguration II (flagging) (2023), depicts nature’s intervention in the queer navigation of the city and queer places. The vocabulary of nature is used as symbols: carnation, pansy and lavender have links to historical queer secret languages for finding each other.
Iris Adrienne Langlois’s Shrine to Salacin (2022) speaks to the power of nature as symbol. Langlois describes tulips as gifts, as sensual, as encircling and cyclical. Tulips can be folded into the canon of counter-normative symbolism, breaking up the monotony of houses with bursts of colour and the promise of spring. In the same spurt of growth, they break up rectangular order with sensual forms. Using Toronto’s concrete body and its particularities as symbols, culture can enhance its potency by following nature’s interventionary lead and by speaking truth to the symbolism expressed by certain manners of infrastructure.