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Lindsay Sorell
Patrick Cruz & Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill at Stride Gallery
October 18, 2017

I am greeted by an alligator eating a goose. Miniature plastic figurines swimming in a pool of grey paint enact the bloodthirsty scene. They share a makeshift plinth of foraged skids with a holiday snowman, his jolly figure nearly unrecognizable, grotesque in layers of dripping paint. A dropsheet hangs on the wall tucked behind a water pipe. Titled Across the Border of British Columbia, it is a utilitarian parody of abstract expressionism and the Jackson Pollocks of a patriarchal capital-driven global system. Fake fruit, plastic plants, and paintings on dollar store canvases are all players in Filipino-Canadian artist Patrick Cruz’s venomously humorous, brightly patterned material-scape. Limp plaster lies flaccid over the rungs of Gerard, a piling of Calgary’s detritus: some sort of easel, an unopened package of acrylic paints, a gift bag with a fluffy white dog printed on it. A cigarette hangs from the puppy’s mouth.

Patrick Cruz, Other-portraits, 2017, installation view

As I turn the corner of Other-portraits at Stride’s horseshoe-shaped gallery, Métis artist Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill’s half of the collaborative exhibition comes into view. While Cruz appropriates the capital object by seizing it as Other – brandless, role-less, unrecognizable – Hill does so by making it recognizable, humanized, endeared. She anthropomorphizes garbage, turning it or returning it into caricature. Materially sparse characters with crumbling little concrete balls for feet, a round circle of wood and strands of blonde and brown hair for a head, a stuffed pink glove for a hand – they point to empathy, recycling, and re-capturing as currency. A sun-bleached flag printed with “WE FINANCE” extends from another teetering concrete base; its rips are patched with traditional Indigenous social and ceremonial currency: tobacco leaves. Recalling the cigarette in the dog’s mouth, Other-portraits hinges on the precipice of colonial and non-colonial forms of currency, disgust for Capital-driven material vomit, and the knowledge that empathic object-relationships do exist.

Patrick Cruz + Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill: Other-portraits continues until November 3.
Stride Gallery:
The gallery is partially accessible.

Lindsay Sorell is an artist and writer who recently collaborated with the Advanced Toastmasters of Calgary for the IKG Live 1 performance festival and completed two solo exhibitions of new work: Exercises in Healing at Contemporary Calgary and Buddha, Why Am I Alone? at AVALANCHE! Institute of Contemporary Art. She is currently working on a large-scale watercolour painting of food and is the editor of Luma Quarterly. She is Akimblog's Calgary correspondent and can be followed on Instagram.



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