I usually don’t write about exhibitions that are closing in the very near future, but with only ten days remaining to see it I’m compelled to mention Sarah Fuller’s solo exhibition at Christine Klassen Gallery. Fuller is currently finishing up an MFA at the University of Ottawa and she occupies that space of not-quite-mid-career but also not-quite-emerging artist either. Building on a site-specific practice that has a deep, nearly sentimental connection with the landscape, her new body of work, Camouflage (Hulinhjálmsteinn), is really onto something.
For some time she has played with printing photographic images on linen and other textiles to create installation-based works. Here she uses this unusual format to create a series of costumes. She prints images of rock surfaces, lichen, and other elements of the landscape, and then wraps her body in these graphic blankets to imitate rock formations, rolling hills, and mountainsides in a surprisingly convincing fashion.
Sarah Fuller, Eldey Island & Moss, 2017, archival inkjet
The landscape costumes are deployed differently throughout this exhibition. The most immediately striking example is of Fuller as a rock located in stark studio-style photographs. Here it is clear that underneath the camouflage is a human body curled up beneath the fabric and stretching it into various inorganic shapes. This performance is both amusing and poignant. A second series sees the artist in situ, hidden in the barrens of Fuller’s ancestral homeland of Iceland. The island nation’s already dramatic landscape is subtly punctuated by a landform that at first looks normal but then reveals itself to be uncanny and ultimately human.
These insertions of Fuller’s body, so carefully covered and hidden within the landscape, could be read as playful or tricky (like an Environmental Art-inspired Where’s Waldo? exercise), but they actually made me feel very calm. Perhaps it is the current political climate, but the idea of covering one's female body in a blanket and assuming the position of an ancient and unmoving landmass feels immensely comforting.
Christine Klassen Gallery: http://www.christineklassengallery.com/
Sarah Fuller: Camouflage (Hulinhjálmsteinn) continues until March 18.
Sarah Todd is a curator currently based in Calgary. She has previously worked at Western Front, InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre, XPACE Cultural Centre, and The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. She has also produced projects with a range of organizations including Vtape, Kunstverein München, The Goethe Institute, The Pacific Cinematheque, Glenbow Museum and The Illingworth Kerr Gallery. She is Akimblog’s Calgary correspondent and can be followed on Twitter @sarahannetodd.
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