October 27 – November 6, 2022
Workman Arts Offsite Gallery, Rendezvous With Madness Festival
By Aysia Tse
kind renderings is the group exhibition for Workman Arts’ 2022 Rendezvous With Madness Festival with the theme being “More Than Rebellion.” Working towards generational change, better informed public discourse, and supporting representation surrounding mental health and addiction, Rendezvous With Madness Festival organizes screenings, exhibitions, workshops, panel talks, performances, and more.
kind renderings, located at the Workman Arts Offsite Gallery in Artscape Youngplace, considers kindness as an act of choice. Six artists share the space, creating work stemming from their own lived experiences with mental health and well-being. Processes of self-reflection, vulnerability, struggle, and healing are all present throughout each work in the exhibition. Together, they form a collection of work that addresses challenging experiences through diverse approaches and explore a range of emotional tones.
First entering the gallery space, Twinkle Banerjee’s installation The things we carry with us (2011) covers the wall with newsprints from floor to ceiling. Crumpled, burnt articles are scattered over blue patterned fabric, and two images are mounted on the wall; a photogram of hair mixed of the artist’s and her mother’s, and a collage made with cyanotype from a film negative of her grandmother. In an essay about the work, Banerjee speaks about the pain that comes from generational trauma and reflects on her interpersonal relationship with her grandmother. She opens up about the resentment that comes with family dysfunction and inherited trauma rooted in displacement arising from political policy. The partition of India caused her grandmother to be one of the millions who were displaced as children. Collaging multiple copies of the newsprints with alarming headlines that include reports of murder and arson, injuries and killing, and other acts of violence give more context to her grandmother’s lived experience and familial history.
Across from Banerjee’s installation is Chains & Crowns (2022) by Stéphane Alexis. A large black, white, and purple photo banner with 16 hairstyles arranged in a grid covers the opposing wall. In the accompanying statement, each hairstyle is numbered 1-16 with a description of the hairstyle, including the common name, historical background, social, and cultural significance. The Hi-Top, Senegalese Twist, Cornrows, Bantu Knots, Ghana Braids are some of the hairstyles featured. For Alexis, this socio-political project reflects on his interpersonal relationship with hair and self, speaking about familial influences and the community and family histories that grounds his work. In his artist talk, Alexis spoke about how history grounds us in who we are and contributes to a communal sense of understanding. In this photography project, he wanted to reflect on the hardships of Black history but also highlight a sense of resilience and boldness.
Moving further into the space, an animation project by Jenny Chen titled Multitude of Fish – Ascension Tales (2022) is projected on a wall behind the gallery desk. Reflecting on energetic bodies and exploring spirituality, Chen uses fish as symbols and their journey to the heavens as a reflection of their own wellness journey and process of healing. In the adjacent room, artist Boozie’s work brings more personality to the space with Losing It, a series of framed digital illustrations. Portraits inspired by a continuing time in her life of confronting and documenting her inner self-talk, Boozie uses images of hamster wheels to illustrate the feeling of never-ending cyclical thoughts. In this series created as an outlet or coping strategy, she personifies these demons and draws them wearing white underwear – an image that she hopes brings some humour and silliness to disarm their constant presence.
Wen Tong’s painting series Cinnamon (2022) shows a shift in her perspective during the COVID-19 lockdown. Painted in a magical realist style, Tong depicts everyday imagery and speaks about finding magical moments in the mundane through painting a “poetic truth.” Opposite these bright, colourful, and painterly pieces, Jessica Field’s work My left-hand is talking and my right-had is nurturing at first glance, looks like charcoal drawings with handwritten text. As a new media artist, Field’s practice involves physical computing, coding, and fabricating “artificial agents.” The drawings on display are produced by an artificial intelligence computer she has worked on for over 10 years. As she feeds her art into the AI, it produces more work that is reflective of her drawings, writing, and experiences with her process of healing. Field’s work considers the reclamation of medical terms and the “treatment of injuries that feel unreconcilable.” Accompanying the drawings is a video of Field reading her poems in a walk-through of her book that documents a collection of drawings and poems. A print copy of the book is also on display for visitors to explore on their own. Looking forward, Field wonders if over time, as she heals, the AI drawings will slowly reflect her recovery and evolve with her.
The artists and their work consider the complexity of the human condition that involves trauma, healing, familial, political, and historical factors. They also explore intra and interpersonal relationships that affect our health and well-being in positive and negative ways. The title kind renderings support the space as a tender one – one where artists can make work about challenging topics, share them in a safe space, and approach these conversations together with the care and kindness they deserve.