Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jennifer Stillwell: Time and place

It was interesting to hear what an artist from Winnipeg had to say about the "Winter Capital of Canada" aka "Slurpee capital of Canada". She talked about the sound of snowplows doing their job out in the sub-40 degree temps in the middle of the night (which I had totally forgotten about . . . the low rumble of the tractor blade on frozen concrete, and revving of diesel engine).
I found Stillwell's work to be a bit on the adhoc side . . . but that's because her inspiration comes from the vernacular: stuff that's all around us ie. slurpee cups, tofu, peg board. It was interesting to see that approach when compared to the cerebral/conceptual method that most of the artist's we've had come talk to us have described.
I liked the fact that everyday objects were used. It creates a direct link to time (a ready-made object, specifically manufactured object, is directly linked to the time in which it was made) and also to place. You wouldn't find slurpee cups in India for example.
Stillwell also makes reference to the landscape (place) but picking out the different characteristics of rock in the various locales that she has made installations.
Repetition plays a big part in Stillwell's work. A kind of banal repetitiveness is needed to make her installations (peeling off graphics from slurpee cups, sifting gravel in strawberry baskets etc) which also makes reference to time.
I think it is hard to extract the notion of time when it comes to an artwork. Kind of like the idea that space and time are inextricably linked, an artwork (certainly a sculpture) exists in space and therefore assumes a temporal aspect. It makes me think of Matthew Ritchie and his work based on the concept of cosmic time: the totality of time as opposed to time as segmented, measured fractions. (I also enjoy how he bridges the gap between drawing, painting, and sculpture).
Self-Portrait in 2064, Matthew Ritchie, 2001

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