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Toronto
Terence Dick
Dave Dyment at MKG127
January 10, 2018

Having spent an inordinate amount of time over the holidays watching Netflix, I find that Dave Dyment’s exhibition at MKG127 makes a lot of sense to me. His diverse range of media – including a video, a sound piece, a bookwork, a drawing, a photo series, and some x-rays – is accompanied by a single-minded focus on pop culture (with one exception). My binge-watch of choice these days is Bojack Horseman and that animated series relies on a similarly singular obsession (in its case: the minutiae of American celebrity culture). It is a creative work created out of previous creative work. What makes it more than your standard po-mo bricolage is the creators’ underlying sentimentality for junk culture. Artifice is a source of not only entertainment and humour, but also of personal significance. Our most meaningful experiences can come from television (or movies or pop songs) as much as they can from real life.



Dave Dyment, ‘Ere Long Done Do Does Did, 2018, inkjet on archival paper

The central project of the exhibition, ‘Ere Long Done Do Does Did, aptly demonstrates and enacts this dynamic of creation begetting creation. Harold Bloom’s book The Anxiety of Influence provides a possible context for this practice, though the artist here would be better suited to the title The Embrace of Influence. In his bookwork with accompanying wall display, photographs, and flowers, Dyment has assembled a text derived from the texts that inspired lyrics by the 1980s British rock band The Smiths. “Plagiarized” might be a more appropriate description (as would “appropriated”) of the wholesale borrowing by the band’s lyricist Morrissey. He was never covert about his influences and part of his appeal as a pop star was the way in which he shared an idiosyncratic personal library of precedents for his listeners to discover. His inspiration became our inspiration and a love of the band wasn’t simply a matter of listening to their records, but immersing oneself in their world of inspiration. Dyment continues the cycle of art inspiring art by making art inspired by the art that inspired art. His incredible labour in this endeavor is to structure his book through the page numbers of the appropriated texts: each page of his 128-page book is numbered in sequence according to the digits from the source text. This additional restriction turns a simple research project into a five-year-long performance of obsession.



Dave Dyment with Stephanie Cormier, Eavesdrop, 2018, vintage bakelite phone, vintage iPhone, 90 minute audio loop

The queasiness that accompanies such self-absorption is at the heart of the sound piece Eavesdrop. Pick up the phone at the back of the gallery and you’ll be privy to conversations taken from old movies depicting interactions with bugged phones. Often the characters know or suspect they are being recorded and change their manner or comment on the need to watch what they say. Self-awareness turns us all into actors playing a character based on ourselves. Our understanding of how that character is constructed is tied to our familiarity with our formative influences. Dyment’s drawing of a homemade cassette cover with a list of bands whose names are derived from the lyrics of previous bands foregrounds that lineage. Even his video composition of an action sequence located at the Hearn generating station, assembled from footage taken from movies shot in that location, turns something real – in this case an actual abandoned power station – into a funhouse of possible identities.

The one exception in the exhibition has nothing to do with other artists' art but it is also based on found material. The series of x-ray images that make up A Dollar and Two Crowns are taken from images of the insides of individuals who have swallowed coins and teeth. The alien elements literally become part of the person. When they are viewed, they are seen as solid white shapes within the murky blur of our bodies. Their presence is undeniable. The person will pass away; what will remain is the art.


Dave Dyment: Stop Me If You’ve Heard It continues until February 3.
MKG127: http://www.mkg127.com/
The gallery is partially 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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Posted by , on 2018-01-11 14:15:42
 
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