Tag Archives: installation

Exhibition Spaces and Public Issues
(MANIFEST: Armed, Exhibition)

Original image by Renee Alfonso

Whether they are part of a museum, commercial gallery, or specific to an event, exhibition spaces have started to have an increasingly important role in discussing current issues in the public sphere through thought-provoking yet visually intriguing methods.

More and more exhibitions these days, particularly in the realm of contemporary art, provide an avenue for dialogue, discussion and examination of the very real issues that are present in society today. Most of the time certain issues are overshadowed by other concerns that are given emphasis by the government or activist groups. For some artists, especially those in the realm of contemporary installation art, these topics can be discussed openly and considered carefully with art as a medium and vehicle for active consideration.

Image by Renee Alfonso

The inaugural show of Corcoran Gallery of Art’s new exhibition series entitled MANIFEST seems to take off where conventional political discussion leaves, and continues the discussion where common political discourse has left off. The exhibition series’ description says that it “investigates art, technology, and the role of exhibition spaces.” While this is a broad description, the first exhibit in this new series certainly highlights the intersection of political issues, technology, and art, which creates a unique, resonating voice in the traditional political landscape of the US’s capital.

The exhibition consists of a series of installations of art objects derived from weapons. Each of the three installations is by a different artist or group, and discusses themes surrounding weapons culture in the United States as well as the role technology plays in it.

Arsenal by Sarah Frost. Photograph by Renee Alfonso.

Immediately grabbing your attention from the minute you walk by the entrance is an installation of paper firearms entitled Arsenal by Sarah Frost, which were handmade using instructional videos from YouTube posted by adolescents. Still frames of the videos flank the installation from one side, with paper maquettes of bullets shells on the other.

Original image by Renee Alfonso

Original image by Renee Alfonso

The second installation is by Julian Oliver, called Transparency Grenade. The grenade itself is an allegorical bomb, collecting fragments of data and network traffic and “detonates” it on a digital map, exploding the information from the site and exploring the breadth of connectivity today.

Transparency Grenade by Julian Oliver. Photograph by Renee Alfonso.

Artist group SmithBeatty created the third installation in two parts, which explores constitutional rights, digital fabrication, and the decisions we make when confronted with issues that could quite frankly be a matter of life and death for some.

Installation by artist group SmithBeatty. Photograph by Renee Alfonso.

Aside from the loaded imagery and themes in the exhibition, its impact also came from the fact that there was hardly any color in the objects or space. The starkness of the white walls and the dominantly white objects in the space created a sense of uneasiness that communicated the overall atmosphere and tone of the show.

Even if exhibitions such as Armed are on view for only a short period of time, they have the opportunity to create awareness and to make an impact on the issues that sometimes are difficult to discuss publicly. As the role of art, exhibitions, and creative spaces continues to evolve, they also continue to challenge our perceptions and provide dimensionality – literally and figuratively, to the issues that affect our lives today.


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MADE at home

MADE at Home
Where: Upstairs at MADE, 867 Dundas St W, Toronto
When : January 27-February 12, 2011, 12-6pm daily
Admission: FREE

Lights on the Skyline, designed by Shana Anderson

While many of the exhibitions we visited during the Toronto International Design Festival were in a gallery setting – urging us to think about construction, process and narrative- MADE at Home asks us to consider pieces within the home. This exhibition invites participants to wander through an apartment furnished fully by some top Canadian designers. To be precise you’ll see the designs of 33 individuals forming 26 design studios and collaborations gathered together in a rough-around-the-edges downtown Toronto apartment.

Match box coffee table by Jason Wheeler, SMS sofa with storage by Studio 608, Bev Hisey's "Gemstone" hand-tufted carpet, Yvonne Ip's poofs constructed of felt and manilla rope, and Periphere's Chandelier, handblown glass in the shape of the human heart

The exhibit asks us to examine our relationship with these things. How we acquire them, how we live with them and  how they contribute to our definition of home.

Home is certainly shaped by people and experiences, thoughts and circumstance. And yes these objects – from dishes to furniture- have utility, day-to-day but many also carry sentimental value, defining who we are and where we came from.

Sojourn stool by Melanie Zanker and Angie To, AHDI's console, Tamitik chair by Connie Chisholm Studio, andAngela Iarocci's Sky Condition window blind printed with sky condition data

While we tend to refer to our address as home, when we move it’s these things that move with us, transforming the new space into something personal, familiar, in to our home.

This unique, fun, and slightly voyeuristic exhibit will inspire and make you ponder your own stuff.  And of course the designs on display are drool-worthy themselves, crafted beautifully and with creativity.

Jeremy Hatch's shoe-toss installation, lamps made of porcelain

While you’re there, don’t forget to wander through the store itself, located downstairs.  MADE carries a wonderful range of functional designs by these same Canadian designers.  If you were inspired by what you saw at IDS or Come Up To My Room, this is your source for designs by Brothers Dressler, Rob Southcott, among many many other talents.

Images property of The Design Tree.

Come Up to My Room – The Gladstone Hotel

Come Up To My Room runs to January 30, 2011
Location: The Gladstone Hotel, January 28-30
Hours: Friday 12-8pm, Saturday 12-10pm, Sunday 12-5pm
Admission: $10

The Alcove- Vivien Cheng & Rina Grosman

The Gladstone Hotel is hosting its 8th annual Come Up To My Room show this weekend. Billed as an alternative design event, Come Up To My Room features the work of over 44 artists and designers, who have transformed the 2nd floor of the Gladstone into an interactive exhibition of room installations and public space projects. Curators Deborah Wang and Jeremy Vandermeij, who trust in the intuition of their artists, have a  multi- and inter-disciplinary show to be immensely proud of. This Thursday I got the opportunity to see the exhibition firsthand, and I was blown away by the innovation and amazing design on display. Here’s a sneak peek of what the show has to offer.

Room 206- Jen Prather & Stephanie Mansolph

The attention to detail in the room 206 installation entitled “The Cyborgesses” by Jen Prather & Steph Mansolf is remarkable. Using a combination of vinyl decals, crochet, textiles and intricate drawings the pair create what they call “life sized alternate realities.” That is really what stepping into this installation is all about, losing yourself in another world, another reality that epitomizes a sense of play and indulgence.

Room 212- Rob Southcott

Rob Southcott is an installation artist and designer who explores the relationship between form and function. What appear to be paper airplanes are actually ingenious hooks that can be arranged to suit a variety of needs.  A 3D sculpture of laser-cut plywood appears to be taking over the space, growing in or out of the walls, in an organic fusing of shadow, line and shape.

Room 202- Jana Macalik, John Peterson & Diana Watters

It was interesting to see how some of the artists and designers involved were inspired by the transitory nature of the hotel space and others focused on audience interaction. Room 202, a collaboration between Jana Macalik, John Peterson & Diana Watters, is a room within a room, but beyond that it is a re-creation of a life lived in an atmosphere of temporary habitation. Unsettling but also somehow hopeful thanks to touches of humanity found in unexpected places, like an empty coffee cup or a dog-eared paperback.

Room 211- Amanda McCavour

Using exquisite “thread drawings” Amanda McCavour recreates in Room 211 an apartment she used to live in. Each finely rendered drawing is suspended from a series of fragile looking strings, creating a tentative and delicate tableaux of ordinary objects. The result is a ghostly after-image of a place in time and a study of our relationships to the objects around us.

If you are in Toronto this weekend, and checking out the other design events happening for IDS11 make sure The Gladstone is on your hit list. Admission is $10 dollars and you can purchase tickets online or at the door. The Gladstone is also hosting a retrospective of previous Come Up To My Room installations that is worth a look if you are stopping by.

Not in Toronto, no worries participate from your computer by visiting wish-you-were-here.ca.  Denise Ing and Ken Leung have created a technology-mediated interaction that elevates user engagement and play. So have your fun from where you sit!

All photos the property of The Design Tree 2011.


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There’s Something About Size

It matters.

Well, at least in the case of public art, which is what this post is about.

Colossal works of art can’t help but seize attention, because nothing says “look here!” than sheer humongous-ness. And once captured, our attention is held captive, pinned, as if by a pro-wrestler. They make bold statements that provoke deep primal responses and reflective thought.

Installation with 1600 chairs, by Doris Salcedo in Istanbul

There are 1600 wooden chairs in this installation piece by Doris Salcedo in Istanbul. Image courtesy of dornob.com.

Size makes viewers feel small. We like to think we have the run of the world, and we have the tendency to delude ourselves into a mistaken sense of power and control. The larger-than-us proportions of public art can swallow us up, and serve as a reminder that we are small. And so we are called to awe.

Sculpture by Mariko Mori

Mariko Mori's Wave UFO

Reflective sculpture by Anish Kapoor

"Cloud Gate" by Anish Kapoor. Image from hardballtimes.com

Concept study for a viewing tower for the London Olympics

Anish Kapoor’s "Orbit" viewing tower for the 2012 London Olympic Park (scale composite)

Also, size generally comes with not a small amount of strength, making these huge art pieces all tough and macho. They won’t dissolve in rain or snow. They won’t wither away when you touch them, nor will they blanch at UV radiation or camera flash. Eventually they will fade, disintegrate and be taken down, but that’s okay. They let us go ahead and ooh and aah, and lean on them and touch them. They are that approachable and accessible!

A sculpture and water installation

"Specific Gravity" by Reg Yuson, a sculpture and water feature. Image from http://manila-photos.blogspot.com

Spiky and huge art

Thomas Heatherwick’s ‘B of the Bang’ does inspire awe and a little bit of fear. Those spikes can be lethal! Image from citysquared.co.uk

"King Bladud's Pigs"

Work in progress for “King Bladud's Pigs”, an installation for an art event in 2008 by artist Al Greenhall.

A giant eyeball sculpture

What are you looking at? Tony Tasset’s three-story tall eye ball, dubbed “The Eye”. Image from urbanmilwaukee.com

Ice Hotel – Embrace the Cold

Are you cold? We seem stuck in an unseasonably deep freeze.  And I’m writing from Canada.  Embrace the season, I’m told, and its wonderland potential.

No bigger or better a winter wonderland than an Ice Hotel.  These generally seasonal structures are part art installation, part vacation resort and a sight to behold.

The entrance to the Ice Hotel in Sweden

Grand entrance to Sweden's Ice Hotel. Image via Wexas.com

The first and most famous of these structures is built annually in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden 200km north of the Arctic Circle.  Opening in December and running till spring, visitors are urged to enjoy a mix of cold and warm accommodations and a plethora of wintery activities.  The ICEHOTEL is constructed each year from frozen water from the the Torne River. Artists from all over the world gather to create an exclusive hotel and art exhibition, only to have it melt away under the sun come springtime. By summer each year all that remains are the impressions from visitors. Oh, and happily for me, photographs.

Visit one of the artist designed cold suites, where the temperature hovers between -5 and -8 degrees Celsius (keep in mind this is an advertising point, as the temp is much colder outside).  Sleeping on a special bed of snow and ice, topped with reindeer skins and thermal sleeping bags, these spectacular rooms, of which there are 7, are full of ice sculpture and art, with a designer/artist designated to each room.

A suite at the Ice Hotel

This sensual art suite, entitled Twilight Night, from the 2010 ICEHOTEL was designed by Benny Ekman and Hanna Tonek Bonnett of Sweden. Ekman a painter, sculptor and illustrator has designed 5 suites over the years.  He teamed up with Bonnett, a ceramic artist, to create this ethereal space.  Image courtesy of ICEHOTEL.

An Ice Hotel suite depicting the iconic howling dogs in the Arctic Circle

Jenny Ackemar of Sweden and Salvador López Polo of Mexico teamed up to create “The Magical Life in the Far North”, a suite depicting the iconic howling dogs in the Arctic Circle. Image courtesy of ICEHOTEL.

An Art Deco suite at the Ice Hotel

Dennis Rolland and Andre Landeros Michel, from New York City designed “Gotham on Ice”, inspired by the Art Deco era of their native city.  Image courtesy of ICEHOTEL.

In addition to the spectacular art suites, The ICEHOTEL offers ice and snow rooms, as well as heated accommodations in onsite chalets.  Their range of activities and excursions include dog sledding, skiing, and ice sculpting, and if you’re lucky, you can take in the Nothern Lights.

Breathtaking auroraFrom everything I’ve heard, a night in an ice hotel makes for a magical once in a life night, a surreal experience that will stay with you a lifetime.  They’ll be releasing images of this year’s suites shortly.  Can’t wait!  For booking information, swing on by to ICEHOTEL’s website.