Yearning for Comfort, Not Cure at Gallery 1C03, Winnipeg
By Mariana Muñoz Gomez
The artists in Yearning for Comfort, Not Cure at Gallery 1C03 invite visitors into intimacy through sensory experience. This exhibition, curated by Adele Ruhdorfer, explores the theme of complex embodiment with Yvette Cenerini, Lux Habrich, Bram Keast, melannie monoceros, Laurence Philomène, and Jesse Turner contributing works that share their creators’ particular lived experiences with disability, chronic illness, and madness.
Most pieces are accompanied by labels prompting visitors to interact with the tactile quality of the works. Touching Keast’s graphic papier-mâché paintings Windless Chime and A Measurement of No Distance let me imagine myself in the artist’s position, creating, handling, and moving the materials. Meanwhile, Philomène’s digital slideshow of static images, Puberty, doesn’t allow for a tactile connection, but the intimate and energetic stills pull the viewer into their everyday life, one made up of contemplation, recognition, and becoming, enveloped by queer community and intimacy.
Creation and mark-making are emphasized in the textile works by Habrich and monoceros. In Habrich’s dazzling piece Mother’s Tears, needle and thread trace familial history and pain as glimpses of text peek through layers of translucent fabric and sit, fragmented, on silk. Similarly, monoceros’ quilt Pain Map uses the act of embroidery to stitch pieces of a body onto fabric and ask what it is that makes us feel. Is it simply vital organs and nerve endings? Or, as they explore in an accompanying poem, is it the ache created by “waves of trauma,” coldness and love? In their series of tapestries Ancestors and accompanying poem, monoceros uses weaving and words to show gratitude to their “art ancestors,” recognizing artmaking as a gift and privilege to explore such aches of being.
Cenerini’s Modèle imprimable de poupée articulée en papier employs mark-making in a less immediately tactile way: she is taken apart, her nude body on display as a large digital print, with paper dolls and the postcards they are made of displayed beside it. Taking apart is used here as a strategy to foster an understanding of a body outside of one’s own: the paper dolls encourage visitors to cut up a postcard and pierce the pieces back together to build a movable paper doll body.
Turner’s installation takes up the back wall of the gallery, with her wheelchair, table, and a book of poetry by Diane Drieger set in front of Turner’s etchings and screenshots from social media. The artist’s performance Take a Moment to Sit in My Chair invites visitors to share physical, mental, and emotional space with her: while she is present, visitors may sit in a wheelchair across from her, holding a silent conversation. When she is absent, visitors are still encouraged to sit in her chair. I felt comfortable and introspective while sitting in Turner’s chair, thinking about her prints depicting a wheelchair as a throne and the social media posts on the wall engaging in discussions of ableism.
Through headphones, monoceros’ soft voice invites us to touch their artwork, reminding us to “please be gentle.” Their tenderness reminds us to be gentle with the artworks not as objects but as embodiments of all six artists. The powerful works in Yearning for Comfort, Not Cure ask visitors not simply to view at an emotional distance, but to come in close and understand their relation to each artist.
Mariana Muñoz Gomez is an emerging artist, writer, and curator. She is a settler of colour based in Winnipeg on Treaty 1 territory. She is a founding member of Calling Card, Carnation Zine, and Sappho Zine Collective; a curator at window; a co-organizer and collaborator with Citing, Collecting, Curating, a research cluster through the University of Manitoba, with funding from the University of Manitoba Institute for the Humanities; and is part of the Mujer Artista Collective. She also co-chairs the Manitoba Artist-Run Centre Coalition. She is currently a graduate student in the MA in Cultural Studies program at the University of Winnipeg.