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Kim Neudorf
Danielle St. Amour at Parker Branch in London
April 09, 2013

The current Parker Branch exhibition may pull at visitors' plant-strings, while parsing this same plant-appeal with pithy wordplay. Plants are in the window and on two makeshift ledges (one low to the ground and next to a portable wall's wheels in park – a plant skateboard). Being quite plant-blind (I fail to identify and/or have any relationship to most things in the domestic plant/garden family), I easily fell into Danielle St. Amour's sidling/sidelong accompanying text: a white on black list as light-box.

Danielle St. Amour

In this list of terms, numbered A to H, a somewhat Victorian all-caps font pushes each word into slightly unfamiliar/familiar space. Misreading and misunderstanding heightens the space between words and associations with the surrounding vegetation. I think I read "ward crownings", "complying embers", or maybe it's "composing narrow crotches" (the word "whorls" is repeatedly misread during the exhibition's opening). Those who are quicker than I point out that this is a list of plant terms, and my obliviousness instead leads me back to the texture and charged energy of the text. A curling red-tipped whip rests atop the light-box, like a finger pointing fixedly towards St. Amour's exhibition title: Whips and Suckers.

In a small booklet as preface (or post-script) to the exhibition, two images are offered as the only source of backstory. They are back-to-back and black and white, playing upon the multitude of greys and glaring grains of texture associated with the authority of 1970s post-performance documentation mixed with Arctic expedition snapshots. Read left-to-right, first is a gnarled lawn with an off-center tree trunk infiltrated by wickery plant supports and the interrupted blades of a large pair of clippers. In the second photograph, the spindly "gate" shape of plant supports is mirrored by two young-looking trees displayed pre-planting with furry roots exposed. That all may sound rather mundane, but it is the display of these switch-like trees, abstractly resembling both medical specimen and post-rabbit-hunt, which points back to the intense, whip-crack sting of St. Amour's use of language, that inward-turning heat between "whips" and "suckers", words and gestures.

Parker Branch:
Danielle St. Amour: Whips and Suckers continues until April 25.

Kim Neudorf is an artist and writer currently living in London, Ontario. Her paintings have shown widely in Alberta, including the Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Stride Gallery, and Skew Gallery in Calgary. She has contributed writing to FFWD,, Prairie Artsters, Hamilton Arts & Letters, Stride Gallery, Truck Gallery, and most recently Susan Hobbs Gallery. She is Akimbo's London correspondent and can be followed @KimNeudorf on Twitter.



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