Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart – Home: Between Worlds

Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart, Centrist I, 2024, archival pigment print & hand applied varnish on dibond mount.

Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart
Home: Between Worlds

May 4 – May 18, 2024
Public opening: Saturday, May 4, 2024, 2-7 pm
Rukaj Gallery, Toronto

Curated by Holly Chang

In her first multi-media exhibition, Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart questions the meaning and perception of authenticity in the crossroads of the natural and digital world. Home: Between Worlds is set on a remote rural homestead where traditions passed down for generations are transformed by the internet, automation, and modern values. Without the use of studio assistants, the artist combines photography with newer digital mediums, photographing intricate sets that mix traditional building techniques with contemporary technologies.

This exhibition explores the approach of self-portraiture as a way to create agency over familial history and narratives around womanhood and identity. It uses a process-based approach to revive and reinterpret her grandmother and great grandmother’s memories and cultural history/artifacts. Home: Between Worlds questions how the renegotiation of history brings new meaning to memories that have been lost and lacked preservation. Sage works to fill in the gaps of these missing voices and narratives through self-portraiture, a medium typically used to create greater agency over the ways we are depicted in imagery.

Images (left to right): Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart, Korovai, 2024, archival pigment print; Girls Room, 2022, archival pigment print.

Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart (b. 1995) began experimenting with photography and self portraiture when she was 22 years old living in Montreal. The decision to focus on self-portraiture arose out of practical necessity. Certain works proved dangerous to attempt and time-intensive, which made it difficult to find someone else to be the model. Sage developed techniques for doing complex photoshoots by herself using a remote. Her photoshoots often entail weeks of trial and error, conducted without a studio. Instead, Sage has mastered the art of synchronizing her work with the weather and time of day, utilizing natural light to illuminate her sets in combination with one or two consumer-grade flashes. Her work draws upon the performance art of Laurie Anderson’s Duets on Ice and Chris Burden’s early work for inspiration.

Sage’s first camera was actually a video camera which produced very small photos. Employing a remote or timer, she captures multiple images in rapid succession. Her body of photography consists of both single-shot images and manipulated images. Drawing on the darkroom techniques of photographers like Hannah Maynard and Ansel Adams, Sage sometimes employs panorama, multiple exposure, combination printing and masking to layer her images, using the series of images taken on set to create the final work. Incorporating a range of techniques and drawing inspiration from notable photographers, Sage’s work is experimental both on set and in the post production phase.

Images (left to right): Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart, Anna’s Hummingbird, 2020, archival pigment print; Mother, 2022, archival pigment print.

Sage’s work makes reference to the contemporary advertising imagery found in bus stations and billboards, drawing inspiration from its vibrant colors and compositions. Her academic background in film and animation fueled a particular fascination with posters for film and TV. Sage’s practice draws upon the work of Cindy Sherman by appropriating contemporary commercial aesthetics and styles, typically created by large teams of professionals working for prominent brands, to focus on fleeting emotions and mundane objects. Her work is inspired by, and is often in dialogue with, other contemporary photographers whose work is shared in online circles.

Contact | Instagram @sageszk

Rukaj Gallery
384 Eglinton Avenue West
Toronto, ON M5N 1A2

Open Mon-Sat
Rukaj Gallery is wheelchair accessible