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Terence Dick
Tamara Henderson & Fastwurms at Oakville Galleries
October 25, 2017

We are all artists when we dream. Every one of us fabricates incredible visions in the depths of our slumber. We imagine a world both familiar and unexpected that haunts us through our just-risen haze as it fades faster than we can recall it. Sometimes we obsessively recount those images and events to whoever is around because their import is so undeniably compelling. However, if you’ve ever had to listen to someone regularly describe their dreams every morning at the breakfast table, you also know that one person’s revelation is everyone else’s bore. We are all artists when we dream, but that doesn’t mean we’re any good.

Tamara Henderson, Seasons End: Out of Body, 2017, installation view

Tamara Henderson, on the other hand, successfully mines the unconscious realm for strategies and material to create something uncannily familiar out of what is essentially idiosyncratic. She has joined a tradition of searchers who’ve found a way out of the ordinary through the subversive logic of ritual, magic, creative metaphysics, and good old imagination run wild. Her specific flavour of the fantastical is, in this case, established by filling the Centennial Square venue of the Oakville Galleries with twenty-five unique uniforms created from or equipped with talismanic objects like pencil pouches or patterned fabric that somehow connect to titled positions like Galactic Garment Healer or Editor in Suitcase. Each one has a handcrafted passport strapped to its foot, so they are costumes for travellers, which is to say they are meant to cross borders, but those borders divide (or link) artistic traditions more so than geographic regions. The free flow of ideas that runs rampant through the assembled figures culminates in a hybrid car that (on a good day) screens Henderson’s films on an endless loop and an infernal machine that wheezily pumps air and magnifies light as if it were the driver for this delusion we find ourselves deep within.

Fastwürms, #Q33R_WTCH_P155, 2017, installation view

Fastwürms take a different angle on the subconscious and offer up an alternative history that replaces the mathematical reasoning of Alan Turing with the unscientific methods of witchcraft. Having renamed the galleries’ Gairloch Gardens site “Warlock Gardens,” they stocked the cottage with a plethora of powerful objects (from unicorn horns and Darth Vader busts to Whizzinators and E-Plastique charges) to serve as tools in the wartime code-breaking that famously took place in England during World War Two at Bletchley Park. Along with the prescient genius Turing who would go on to hypothesize the possibility of artificial intelligence as well as commit suicide due to the drugs he had to take to avoid jail time for his crime of being gay, Doreen Valiente worked there as a translator before becoming a leading authority on Wicca and, according to some, the “Mother of Modern Witchcraft.” The serendipity of these coincidental lives suits the queer-allied, Witch Nation-identifying Fastwürms who have gone gloriously overboard in envisaging a secret service that trades primitive computers for scrying bowls in fighting their war against war. If that sounds like another silly dream, then it’s just one more reason to go back to sleep.

Tamara Henderson: Seasons End: Out of Body continues until December 30.
Fastwürms: #Q33R_WTCH_P155 continues until December 30.
Oakville Galleries:
The gallery is accessible.

Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.



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