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Aaron Peck
Kathy Slade & Lisa Robertson at Malaspina Printmakers
September 25, 2012

It was a strange apartment; full of books and tattered papers, and miscellaneous shreds of all conceivable substances, 'united in a comment element of dust.' Books lay on tables and below tables; here fluttered a sheet of manuscript, there a torn handkerchief, or a nightcap hastily thrown aside; ink-bottles alternated with bread-crusts, coffee-pots, tobacco-boxes, periodical literature and Blücher Books...

Kathy Slade & Lisa Robertson

In her essay Time in the Codex, Lisa Robertson uses the word "chiaroscuro" to describe text: "I submit to ink. I go into the elsewhere of chiaroscuro." The contrast of ink and paper - much like the painterly technique to depict light and perspective - as we submit ourselves to reading black ink on white paper is transposed in our brains into information, sentiments, sensations, and worlds. This chiaroscuro creates a world.

The same can be said of Kathy Slade and Lisa Robertson's collaboration, an exhibition of prints with sentences by Thomas Carlyle for a title, currently on view at Malaspina Printmakers on Granville Island. Their series of prints - on subjects including overheard comments by Lawrence Weiner at Documenta 13 (presented in his characteristic font) and reproductions of the Hanged Man from the Tarot, to a line drawing based on Gustave Courbet's l'Origine du monde, a quote from Tristram Shandy, lyrics from Across the Universe by the Beatles in the shape of a sphere, and an astrological diagram - all attempt to do what reading does: represent or perhaps conjure a world. Here, the incompleteness of the images succeeds where exhaustive description would fail. The work is an homage to art historian Aby Warburg's Mnemosyne Atlas, a collection of images ranging from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century. Much like Warburg's project, this exhibition presents a series that attempts, in its incompleteness, to reproduce the world. Here, the prints – many of which, much like text, are black on white – affect another kind of chiaroscuro, another kind of reading.

Malispina Printmakers:
Kathy Slade & Lisa Robertson continue until October 7.

Aaron Peck is the author of The Bewilderments of Bernard Willis and, in collaboration with artists Adam Harrison and Dominic Osterried, Letters to the Pacific. His recent art criticism has appeared, or is forthcoming, in, 01 Magazine, Art Papers, Canadian Art, C Magazine and Fillip, as well as an article in La Fábrica's Spanish-language magazine Matador. He has also contributed to numerous exhibition catalogs and is Akimblog's Vancouver correspondent.



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