Romanian-born Bogdan Cheta is nobody's fool; presenting himself as a day labourer cleaning washrooms is all part of a complex persona that sees him both living and practicing in liminal, yet everyday settings. Reminiscent of Ilya Kabakov's The Soviet Toilet and the Palace of Utopias, Cheta's practice involves installations inspired by peregrinations to situations that, for many folks, are beyond the edge of comfort.
Bogdan Cheta, I like it here. Don't you?, 2012, installation detail
For his solo show at the recently opened Avalanche! (located in an early 1900s storefront slated for demolition), Cheta has created a cornucopia of found objects from abandoned homes (dwellings in which he also sometimes sleeps) juxtaposed with books and a custom video. The anchor assemblage appears a little too contrived for my liking: there are simply too many artists that can arrange readymades into formalist groupings. That said, he has some bizarre and belligerent, yet telling compositions. A book titled Melancholy and the Archive is separated from another publication – Shoplifting from American Apparel – by scrounged and found toiletries.
As you probe deeper, Cheta punctuates the show with hairball-cum-ocean-garbage-flotillas of kitschy cast-offs. They're seemingly random yet also refined in the realm of an Arte Povera-meets-Altermodern objecthood. And histories are conveyed via a separate interpretive sheet. There are plastic flowers taken from a cemetery, knitted underwear that he found in the street (he "was so drawn to them [he] didn't even notice they were soaked in urine"), and Matt's Australian Summer Lemonade (a gel Cheta poached in a shower at the Banff Centre after he "was rejected from a residency with Geoffrey Farmer").
Bogdan Cheta, I like it here. Don't you?, 2012, installation detail (photo: Brooke Averns)
Much of the narrative is about accepting flaws and looking anew at the blemishes of the world – for which Cheta does a great job. Appropriately, he also makes installations in public sites and even clandestinely on trains: there could be a furtive form on its way to you at this very moment. For potential instant gratification, there' an online silent auction of works from the show (via the gallery website) that closes with an artist's talk on December 15.
Bogdan Cheta: I like it here. Don't you continues until December 15.
Dick Averns is an interdisciplinary artist and writer whose exhibitions and performances have been presented internationally. He teaches at the Alberta College of Art + Design, and his writing has appeared in Canadian Art, Front, On Site Review, and many catalogues. He is Akimblog's Calgary correspondent.
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