To Broadcast is to Scatter at the School of Art Gallery, Winnipeg

By Chukwudubem Ukaigwe

Some systems take off perpetually into new inventions, bouncing away with intent, beyond approaching intervals, skipping measurements, and impending horizons. Some other systems repeat, returning in different colours of remembrances, or echo spatially through an inheritance of shape/form, shifting in and out, reincarnating at approximate coordinates within a field. The group exhibition To Broadcast is to Scatter presented a system of systems by artists seth cardinal dodginghorse, Cadence Planthara, Diana Sofia Lozano, Natalia Villanueva Linares, June Canedo de Souza, and Larissa Sansour and S√łren Lind. Their work was accompanied by an array of public programing, including an exhibition tour, two artist talks, a workshop, and two performances.

Absorbent, fibrous, and refractive like 20th Century sub-Saharan musical polyrhythms, moving tentacular, spread out like nerve endings, this exhibition webs an encounter, bending conventional metrics like time, and obfuscating linear approaches to interrelating modes of existence. In the final iteration of the University of Manitoba‚Äôs 2023-2024 Visiting Curator Program at School of Art Gallery, curator Shalaka Jadhav invests in principles of the rhizome (as expounded upon by Gilles Deleuze and F√©lix Guattari) as a network of connections with no beginning and no end. Her research also refers to Astrida Neimanis and Rachel Loewen Walker‚Äôs scholastic proposition of ‚Äúthick time‚ÄĚ ‚Äď a model that stacks time in expanding and contracting layers. Thick time advocates for an embrace and embodied understanding of ourselves as deep archives. Moreover, it suggests a refusal of an outright distinction between the human and non-human world.

Diana Sofia Lozano, Palingenesis (indeterminate phase), 2020, steel, resin, pigments, resin clay, plaster, Sculpey, silicone, flocking, beads, miniature paper flower, twine, rope, paraffin wax, latex paint, mirrors. (photo: Karen Asher)

One way of entering this exhibition is going through Diana Sofia Lozano’s biomorphic sculpture. Palingenesis (intermediate phase) unfurls in twisted vines connected to a rough ellipsoid. This egg-shaped body is suspended by warped claws possessing new blooms at their extremes. Equipped with thorns, the biggest vine is raised like a scorpion’s behind, holding a large flower bud. The cocoon-like bud is dressed in seedlings and fresh sprouts. At the rear is a pair of webbed feet made of honeycomb units leaving a trail of colourful pollen in its wake. Beyond being wrapped with rope like appendages, this anthropomorphic system moves with the light, casting shadows in its place, and is covered with a simulation of fungal growth. A daughter of botanists, Lozano conjures an array of material to mould out botanical apparatuses that celebrate mechanisms of plant survival. Palingenesis is inspired by a symbiotic exchange occurrent between Bucket Orchids and pollinator bees known as pseudocopulation. In the procession of reproductive cycles, the orchid mimics the shape and scent of female bees to lure male bees. After a disappointing arrival, the insects leave with pollen transferred by the orchids to their body, which they subsequently deposit on the stigma of another orchid flower in continuation of its erotic expedition.

Diana Sofia Lozano, Palingenesis (indeterminate phase), 2020, steel, resin, pigments, resin clay, plaster, Sculpey, silicone, flocking, beads, miniature paper flower, twine, rope, paraffin wax, latex paint, mirrors. (photo: Karen Asher)

Lozano‚Äôs sculpture continues further in the gallery as an offshoot, plucked away from its biological source, lays alive. The vine of this tendril raises a circular mirror to a text printed in reverse on the wall. Visitors to the exhibition are made to come close, bending and mimicking beelike postures in an attempt to read as well as decipher the text, picking up words like pollen, hydrogen, and oxygen. The signal caught from the mirror and broadcast on the wall reads ‚ÄúProfundo Sentimiento, admiraci√≥n y √©xtasis.‚ÄĚ This text is an extract from a book on orchids written by the artist‚Äôs father.

Natalia Villanueva Linares, Dual 11, 2023, tissue paper, gold thread (photo: Ebunoluwa Akinbo)

Approaching the rear end of the gallery, one is confronted by an overwhelming tapestry engulfing the thirty-foot width of the wall. Dual 11 by Natalia Villanueva Linares is made up of units of tissue paper grids sewn together with gold thread. This work indexes a process of intensive interaction with a quotidian material: tissue paper, a secondary accessory, usually accompanying gifts, and discarded after a single use. In an accumulative and repetitive procession, Linares massages an enduring softness into this material, activating its fibres and making it function as a stable fabric for asserting the monumental. This generous transmogrification of such a simple substance collapses time into the material and probes its potential for storing memory. Natalia‚Äôs shape shifting gesture brings to bear the writer Saidiya Hartman‚Äôs definition of beauty in Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: ‚ÄúBeauty is not a luxury; rather it is a way of creating possibility in the space of enclosure, a radical art of subsistence, an embrace of our terribleness, a transfiguration of the given. It is a will to adorn, a proclivity for the baroque, and the love of too much.‚ÄĚ

Natalia Villanueva Linares, Lands of Dual 11, 2023, performance

Each rectangular minutia of this installation exists in variations of blue, as well as its spectral derivations violet, turquoise, etc. I am forced to think about the musical tradition of the blues in response to this work; they are both concerned with stretching and transforming benign stories and everyday matter into expressions of capaciousness while standing outside standard units like time and looking for new intuitive and adjustable metrics. Linares presented a performance at the opening of the exhibition. The artist, alongside seven co-performers, dipped bricks of tissue paper into a pool of water in a repetitive ritual procession, pulling dye from the material, canning the dye, and remoulding the wet tissue paper into small, compressed bricks. The resultant jars of dye and compressed bricks were displayed on a wooden shelf and titled Lands of Dual 11. This new work demonstrates the abundant potential of the everyday, characterizing ways simple actions can exert multidimensional transformations.

June Canedo de Souza, O Esc√Ęndalo, 2022, durational performance

According to its curator, the exhibition illuminates memory-marking. Cadence Planthara memory-marks by creating an alter consisting of paintings, functional sculptures, and found objects. Informed by and referencing her ancestral lineage and familial histories, she maps a genealogy of recollections, fragmented stories, and residual memories. June Canedo de Souza‚Äôs installation O Esc√Ęndalo also explores memory-marking in thick time. The single-channel video accompanying her installation documents a performance enacted in an open field as well as an installation evoking a household interior. In repeated movements, the artist cartographs recollections of her childhood. By sweeping in and around her devised landscape, she memory-marks histories of her immigrant family, as well as the domestic jobs her parents took on to sustain her upbringing.

seth cardinal dodginghorse, last night I dreamt I was home again, 2023, installation

Residence time is a scientific term that refers to the amount of time an element stays within a fluid system. In her book In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, Christina Sharpe proposes that African bodies lost to the sea during the Middle Passage remain alive with us as trace elements and minerals in residence time. The residence time of sodium (one of the elements that constitutes human blood) in the ocean is 260 million years. In the work of seth cardinal dodginghorse multiple residence times resonate. Their 2023 piece last night I dreamt I was home again is an attempt at an impossible reconnection with the artist’s maternal ancestral home, which no longer exists because their family was forcefully displaced to make way for the Calgary Ring Road. In an act of remembrance, dodginghorse reconstructs a model of his childhood home and its close environs with wood, buffalo robe, traditional earth pigments, and crayon. Also included in the installation are sound documents recorded in Tsuut’ina, dodginghorse’s birth town, that pre-date their family’s displacement. Both the physical and sound component of this installation embody resident times in flux between memory and physical space. How long does trauma persist? What is the resident time for healing?

Larissa Sansour and S√łren Lind‚Äôs In Vitro closes the exhibition with a monochromatic two-channel video playing in Arabic with English subtitles. The black and white work from 2019 is primarily set in an underground bunker in Bethlehem, decades after the onset of an ongoing ecological disaster. Alia, a young scientist, traverses the brutalist concrete architecture of the bunker to converse with Dunia, a survivor of the disaster laying on her deathbed. Images of desolate streets and burning cities flash on screen alongside archival footage glimpses of mass migration and preapocalyptic quotidian life. Alia and Dunia engage in what Jadhav describes as an intergenerational negotiation of cultural heritage and memory, deconstructing the dualities of myth/fiction, natural worlds/human architectures, and inherited trauma/collective memory. In this contortion and confluence of thick time and residence time, the veil between past and future rips wide in the present. As they flood one another, a quote from Dunia to Alia echoes within: ‚ÄúThe past never was, it only is. These moments will disappear too. When our time comes, that time will no longer be ours. We will be an archive for someone else to make sense of.‚ÄĚ

To Broadcast is to Scatter was on display from November 30, 2023 to February 10, 2024
School of Art Gallery: https://umanitoba.ca/art/gallery
The gallery is accessible.

Chukwudubem Ukaigwe is a Nigerian-born artist, curator, and writer passing through Winnipeg. Exercising material as an experimental device for cross-examining plural themes, his interdisciplinary practice is an inquiry into semiotic dissonance. He participates in the creation of immersive audiovisual scapes for fecund contemplation, bringing to center facets of everyday life to generate active conceptual trans-media interconnections pertaining to global aesthetics. His social practice is established on foundations of splintered or shared authorship, community input, fracturing time, and relativity. He is a founding member of the curatorial force Patterns Collective.