Support Project Space
December 22 – January 19th, 2019
By Adi Berardini
If you’re a Capricorn, chances are we’re compatible—both Earth signs, something about our qualities match up well. As a Virgo, I am analytical, practical, and dare I say, I have an unruly habit of worrying about everything and working non-stop. Perhaps we get along well based on our shared anxieties.
Sorry, I’m busy is an exhibition of Capricorn artists that looks at the relationship between artistic connections and work ethic. Curated by Tegan Moore and Liza Eurich, they shared the challenge of curating a show so seemingly random since the main commonality is based on the time of year the artists were born. However, the string that ties the work together is the shared qualities that Capricorns are said to possess—ambition, practicality, wisdom and pessimism, to name a few. There are also a few recurring themes such as the use of fruit as a subject matter, humour, memory and the imagery of a page turning. The exhibition seems paired down since it consists of smaller works, but its strength lies within the context of the work and how it demonstrates the artists’ personalities as distinctly Capricorn.
Pessimism and Humour
The collage work Flip Off (2018) by Maryse Larivière is comprised of two main elements—a middle finger and a lovebird against a millennial pink background. It could be interpreted that the work is giving the middle finger to London, Ontario. Just walking to this exhibition, I was surrounded by decrepit buildings and salt-stained winter roads. Flipping the bird to London is totally understandable. Further on, haphazardly placed at the top of the stairwell, Water for America (2018) by Anna Madelska consists of a white fur patch and a crumpled poster. Madelska references the distribution of wheat-pasted posters used for political propaganda or advertising. This piece is quite cheeky as well since the cliffscape poster appears to look like two legs spreading—the placement seems to allude to looking up a skirt. She is also flipping off someone in a metaphorical way.
The sculptural work KFC by Kotama Bouabane displays this sense of Capricorn humour—the sculpture reads as a pile of materials stacked on the tile floor. The neon reflection on the black and white materials evokes a piece of technology with its streamlined rectangles; I immediately read it as an Ipad. However, at a second glance (and perhaps by reading the name KFC), one can infer that there’s a plaster cast piece of deep-fried chicken sitting on top. What appears to be a lime green painted piece of wood is, in fact, a stack of napkins.
Need for Control
A quality distinct to Capricorns, so I am told, is a need for control in long-term relationships. In the inkjet print from the series Polvos, Susanna Browne uses the imagery of a chameleon on a horseshoe from a label on a Mexican love potion that gives you the power to control your man. Sounds pretty useful in all honesty. I propose that another Capricorn quality is resourcefulness.
Control also seems conveyed by the second work by Kotama Bouabane, with Stereo Quality Photo Finishers. 1989. Hong Kong (2018), the print of a fruit still-life pinned to the wall with a jet-black chopstick. At the bottom, the illusion of the flipped page reads “Kodak.” I read this piece as re-establishing representation when it comes to the typically euro-centric painting trope of a fruit bowl. This particular fruit bowl image originated from a book produced in Hong Kong. Reflecting on the means of production, Bouabane is interested in the production of the paper used for printing. He explained that he visited different paper manufacturers in Japan and Germany: the Japanese factory being more traditional, whereas the German factory driven by man-made machinery. The idea of copying and circulating imagery and the importance of cultural context as it relates to reproduction is explored.
The Capricorn is said to be the wise sign of the zodiac. This wisdom is demonstrated through the sound work by Niloufar Salimi, how she remembers it (2018). Both poetic and wise, this haunting work transformed the space. In the audio Salimi explains an early memory described to her of a grandmother singing to calm a two-month-old baby’s crying. On the small shuffle iPod, a voice singing a lullaby in Farsi is heard travelling through the listener’s eardrums. The lack of accuracy and subjectiveness of memory is addressed since later on, the story that was explained to her was denied by the same person. The painting hung on the door by Kim Neudorf also addresses the theme of memory—the neutral, earth-tone colours bleed together alluding to a figure. The sensibility that it’s painted in seems like a foggy memory itself, like trying to recognize someone from a dream without being able to pinpoint them.
Additionally, the piece by Shane Krepakevich seems to look towards a higher power for wisdom— the print The Book of Sand, p. 19, 022 (2018) addresses space and philosophy, the name referencing a short story by Jorge Luis Borges about the protagonist getting lost in a seemingly infinite “Holy Writ” book and attempting to escape impending infinity. The work parallels the similarities between light, space and the beating of the blood in one’s arteries. Whether or not you believe in astrology, it’s nice to think of constellations like threads binding us together by our shared qualities.
The loneliness factor (2016), a film by Aryen Hoekstra, also draws a parallel to space and the extra-terrestrial. The black galaxy background is like an ink void spilling endlessly, the planets are blips of light shining through. Suddenly, a metal oscillating calendar appears in the corner resembling a spinning globe. The hypnotizing video reflects on post-war space exploration that attempts to search for the unknown, trying to determine if there’s potential for more life out there. Analyzing the positioning of the globe in correlation to the rest of the galaxy, it projects what life could be like in the future when there are only remnants of humankind. Even on a planet of over seven billion, we’re still surrounded by the vastness of it all.
Parallel to the video in the basement, Loadout (2018) by Jonathan Onyschuk has a curious texture and materiality. The work consists of a table formed of thin aluminium that appears to be made of painted crumpled paper. Formed from WW1 barbed-wire and named after a shooter game, it references a similar post-war theme to Hoekstra’s film. Placed on the table, two melted silicone spines lie inside a styrofoam pit. It seems to allude to the collective trauma of war and violence embedded in identity, although the reception of this piece showed that its meaning got a bit muddled. Sometimes you have to embrace the unknown.
The Capricorn is known for being meticulous, which is portrayed in the work Maquette for Unrealized Monument by Trevor Mahovsky. The work is a maquette for a brushed-bronze apple with a detail-oriented rendering of a bee resting on top. The sculpture has an environmental undertone, creating elevated importance towards bees as pollinators. Whenever I see a bee, I associate how their hard work as pollinators is diminished; their population dwindling. Like the bee, the Capricorn is also hard-working. The attention to detail in the bee at this minuscule scale displays their meticulous effort—always down to the last detail.
I believe in horoscopes since, at least for me so far, they have yet to be proven wrong. Sure, maybe I just see the truth in what I want to believe, or they are obscurely written, or maybe I refuse to live in a universe that is completely random. A dice game will demonstrate that there is some predictability behind probability. After all, there must be similarities between us somehow. It’s poetic and comforting to think that we’re more alike than different based on a common factor. The beauty of Sorry, I’m Busy is uniting through art to celebrate Capricorns and their distinct qualities. This is wonderful because if they are anything like their fellow Earth sign, the Virgo, they’ll forget to celebrate their accomplishments, too busy looking towards their next goal.