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Luther Konadu
Lauren Lavery & Stephanie Ng at Flux Gallery
May 30, 2018

After dropping out of school and relocating to Portland in the mid-90s, Miranda July immersed herself in the DIY art scene as a performance artist and initiated a free film distribution system for women moviemakers. It was a way for her to create a feminist art community and connect with like-minded women. To do this, she used the postal service as an intermediary between her and those she’d later connect with to create the collaborative short film Joanie 4 Jackie. This back and forth collaboration continued for years. July is in a long line of artists, including the likes of Moyra Davey, who have used the postal service to reach artists, friends, and other relations to participate in shared artworks, but with today’s ever-progressing communication tools and the continued exit of snail mail, the glory days of mail art might be fading.

Lauren Lavery and Stephanie Ng

The collaborative exhibition ( ) to ( )/place to place by Stephanie Ng and Lauren Lavery at aceartinc.'s Flux Gallery makes a different case for correspondence via the postal service. Since technology hasn’t caught up with alternate ways of moving sculptures from one place to the other, these two artists are left with using the mail as a bridge for their creative relationship. Ng, who lives in Hong Kong, and Lavery, who is in Guelph, correspond in a series of cadavre exquis pieces that take the form of modest yet idiosyncratic abstract assemblages and works on paper.

Accumulated over the last eight or so months, the humble results first scan as off-kilter fragments by a playful six-year-old working with a measured logic. Each piece is deceivingly textured and intricate, with a homemade charm that begs to be touched. They rest on the floors and lean on the walls without being physically imposing. In fact, they barely take up any space. Even with their colourful pallet, they are unassuming yet layered with found dollar-store detritus the artists passed back and forth to each other. The supporting drawings read like adlibbed skeletal markings that may as well be an encrypted language between the two.

Somewhere in the corner accompanying these forms is a towering stack of shoe-size boxes with postage labels, surcharges, customs imprints, and other official stamps that are part of the circumstances by which these seemingly inconsequential sculptures came to be. They record not only the intimate exchanges between Lavery and Ng, but also they serve as manifestations of the places and agents they travel in-between.

Lauren Lavery and Stephanie Ng

In the context of transit, Lavery and Ng’s mild-mannered formations also take on the specific value required by the postal service for customs clearance and in case of damage/lost goods. This value is somehow altered in the context of the well-lit gallery presentation. What is at first read as an indexing of a social and creative interrelationship later surfaces as a politic to value. It highlights the ways in which galleries and museums continually confirm and prop up the authority of art, the significance of the display on the way art objects are understood, and the ways in which art objects shift between meanings.

In what was inherently an experimental project to work antithetically across borders, Lavery and Ng fell back to an age old interpersonal movement and, in doing so, inadvertently hinted at perspectives Louise Lawler would likely nod to and Ray Johnson would never have imagined.

Lauren Lavery & Stephanie Ng: ( ) to ( )/place to place was on display from May 11 to 18.
Flux Gallery:
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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