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Ontario
Kim Neudorf
WE WON'T COMPETE at the Art Gallery of Windsor
August 12, 2014

WE WON’T COMPETE, an exhibition of works from the collections of both the Feminist Art Gallery (FAG) and the Art Gallery of Windsor, is Allyson Mitchell and Deirdre Logue’s second time using FAG’s Feminist Art Collection (FAC) within a public art institution to explore a curatorial model in which “artists who are almost always invisible” are recognized and made visible. While placing the exhibited work under the designation “feminist art”, Mitchell and Logue simultaneously question the possibility of such a labeling, where their own “struggle with the language for feminist description” leads them to ask: “How do we describe an object or image or sound piece as feminist and/or queer?” They suggest that the question is part of a larger recognition of the multiple discourses and dialogues of feminist and queer experience, a “push/pull” that can be acknowledged in the here and now of public and social frameworks.



Frances Loring

Occupying a smaller gallery on the AGW’s third floor, the exhibition’s corner(ed) location begins and ends with a bright red path of tape stretching across the floor and into that of a neighboring gallery space. The tape cuts between a sizable Claude Tousignant painting and a large free-standing work by Greg Curnoe, and leads to a Frances Loring sculpture from 1951, which, placed in the midst of landscapes and portraits from the AGW’s permanent collection, both singles out and generates affiliations between the two exhibitions. The tape signals back to Helen Molesworth’s writing on feminist curating, which proposes that what is absent within an art institution’s collection can provoke opportunities to explore other kinds of relationships outside of patriarchal or hierarchal narratives.



Margaret Lawrence

Join Us, an exuberant projection by Jesi The Elder is brought out of a private viewing room and into the space of the exhibition by the same fluorescent line of flight. The satisfyingly organic and abstract logic of its animation loops is echoed in the ululating grain of a color relief etching by Servulo Esmeraldo and the perforated edges of a geode-like serigraph by Arthur Secunda. Other works are deliberately hung in close groups, such as an enormous painting by Eleanor Bond flanked by the sound of Abstract Random’s reverberating Siren Song. Geometric abstraction in paintings by Bodo Pfeifer and Allyson Clay is made part of a larger, more intuitive abstract narrative through connections with nearby works. Grouped together with Margaret Lawrence’s waves in colored pencil, portraits by Adee Roberson and Johnson Ngo, and a collage by Sonja Ahlers, Pfeifer’s work is part of a larger conversation less fixed by the convergences of singular hard-edged grids-within-grids and more about the psychic energy of the neighbouring pieces. Clay’s rigid crown of red on yellow begins to mimic Erika DeFreitas’ digital prints of striped doilies held and draped by the intimacy of teeth and skin. Made present by deliberate proximity, these relationships aren’t merely suggested, but are palpably hip to hip and face to face.

Molesworth suggests that feminist genealogies based on alliances (horizontal) rather than exclusion (vertical) can lead to “lines of influence and conditions of production” outside of the usual “rules surrounding who gets to speak when about what.” WE WON’T COMPETE makes a convincing case for working with a collection like FAC in order to build new “communities of works” where, rather than merely filling the gaps in existing narratives, “sameness and difference are attributes” in continual moments of “friction” that create new conversations and/or abstract codes of community. Or where, as in the preface to the marching conduits of Jesi The Elder’s repeating anthem, red-tipped fingers encircling a finger-puppet lion roar, flip endless birds, and spell out: JOIN US.


Art Gallery of Windsor: http://www.agw.ca/exhibitions/current/399
WE WON’T COMPETE continues to September 21.


Kim Neudorf is an artist and writer currently living in London, Ontario. Her paintings have shown widely in Alberta and at Susan Hobbs Gallery in Toronto. She has contributed writing most recently to Susan Hobbs Gallery, Cooper Cole Gallery, Forest City Gallery, and Evans Contemporary Gallery. She is Akimbo's London correspondent and can be followed @KimNeudorf on Twitter.

 

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