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THE NEXT 7 DAYS:     EVENTS (19)     +     OPENINGS (12)     +     DEADLINES (9)     +     CLOSINGS (19)
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Terence Dick
Camilla Singh at A Space
February 22, 2018

Camilla Singh brings a refreshing "fuck you" attitude to the art world. In these polite times, work that literally gives one the finger or relies on bathroom stall humour to nail its point to the wall enlivens the dour moralism that threatens to reduce all galleries to lecture halls. From her band Mortified to her cheerleading performances, she has never been a subtle artist, but subtlety is a luxury for those who aren’t yet mid-scream. What is Singh screaming about? I missed the opening night performance for her exhibition Nothing is Ever Enough at A Space, so I’m going to have to hypothesize based on the evidence in the room.

Camilla Singh, Candle and Candleholder, 2018, wax, wick, dye, plaster

Work has always been her thing. In this case it’s women’s work, which means domestic labour and that includes childbirth. From the finger flipping candles to the phallic snakes (including the one subtitled the dick that sucked itself) to the bloody nightgown to the clay figure with the gaping vulva, the gendered nature of the conventional home front is on display. The main stage dining room scenario is set for two adults and a child, but the rage that simmers within that triangulation (even in the most functional of families) is expressed through a centrepiece of blood red middle finger candles melting down over hands directed outward at all angles (suitable for the cover of a thrash metal LP titled Feed the Family).

Underneath the table is even more trouble: a dyed black bouncy goat that I know from experience is guaranteed to throw a toddler towards their first concussion. This scapegoat (for that is its title) serves as a bestial repository for all the sublimated ire that can’t be released lest one come off as a “bad parent.” Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott gave generations of mothers a reprieve by proposing the possibility of the “good enough” mother. If Singh is exorcizing anything in this collection of haunted objects, it is the frustration of suffocating domesticity.

Camilla Singh, Nothing is Ever Enough, 2015, plaster

Such tropes might harken back a couple generations to stereotypical 1950s middle class America, but in a post-liberation world the struggle has simply become less visible and seemingly self-inflicted. The labour of a mother’s love is still bound in contradictions of expectation and competition. Outlets for the resulting resentment have been few and far between, but the music that Singh sometimes incorporates into her art practice subverts male dominated genres and turns that anger outward. Her Sheela Na Gig sculpture of the miniature figure with exaggerated genitals brings up another musical reference: PJ Harvey’s furious song of the same name from her first album. Her debut provided a new model, like Winnicott’s, of how a woman can be – artistically, emotionally, expressively. She raged with distinction. Singh maintains that tradition.

Camilla Singh: Nothing is Ever Enough continues until March 10.
A Space Gallery:
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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