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Winnipeg
Luther Konadu
Dagmara Genda at aceartinc.
March 07, 2018

In her latest exhibition, Everything That’s Lost at aceartinc., Dagmara Genda is, to some degree, playing “artist as documentarian” in her own backwards provisional way. The result makes for a tacitly misleading or rather incongruous presentation and premise. It’s hard to know what make of it or pin down exactly what it is. And perhaps that’s to Genda’s benefit. It starts with her meticulously traced cutouts of what look like magazine-size pictures of snow-covered fields akin to images you'd find in a nature documentary or a National Geographic. The cutouts are arranged in an orderly and careful way as though there's a potential purpose for doing so. It is like walking into a science lab and seeing various specimens methodically lined up for an esoteric study.



Dagmara Genda

Some of the cutouts are mere minimal incisions, but then others progressively become more fragmented into complete abstraction as your eyes moves from one to the next. They are all oriented vertically, like portraits, belying the landscape imagery they depict; instead, their irregular shapes resemble marked territories as if taken from an atlas.

The other half of the exhibition is more or less a colossal book sculpture barred off from touching and only viewable from close proximity. The otherwise blank sacred white book is an amalgam of two thousand laser-cut shapes centered on each page. The shapes were sourced from the negatives of the aforementioned magazine cutouts. In essence, Genda transforms a seemingly inconsequential nature magazine into an untouchable monument of sorts. The book is a fully realized encyclopedic document of something she obsessively fabricated and then decided to distance from view by only making it accessible when the gallery attendant wears cotton gloves and flips eighty pages at approximately 4:30pm every day.

It makes you wonder why she chose this seemingly ridiculous gesture? What’s with the weird rules? At the heart of the show is ultimately photography since all the cut landscapes are photo sourced. And it makes me wonder if this absurd undertaking is an illustration of how much photography plays into making an impenetrably objective and fixed historical record? Is it a knock to the arbitrary way history is sometimes neatly organized to close out some stories and emphasize others? Is it how images from media like nature documentaries help to perpetuate an idea of a culture or a perception of falsely pristine untouched territories like that of Canada’s North? Baudrillard said something about an image becoming more real to us that the reality of the thing itself. By cutting parts of the snowy landscapes, Genda packs on a new narrative to those initial images; now we start to wonder what was there before. We wonder what the photograph can’t show – who is outside of the frame and why are they omitted?


Dagmara Genda: Everything That’s Lost continues until March 16.
aceartinc.: http://www.aceart.org/
The gallery is not accessible.


Luther Konadu makes things such as photographs, paintings, and prints which he occasionally calls art. He self-describes as a transcriber. He contributes content to a publication called Public Parking. Most days his favourite colour is green and one of his goals in life is to never be an art brat. He is Akimblog’s Winnipeg correspondent and can be followed on Instagram @public_parking.

 

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