Studies in Decay; curated by CCST Candidate Jonah Gray

October 29 — December 10, 2011. Opening Friday, October 28, 8PM. Curated by Jonah Gray.

Or Gallery is pleased to present Raymond Boisjoly, Jordy Hamilton, Laura Piasta: Studies in Decay, a group exhibition curated by Jonah Gray.

The dark overtones in both the subject matter and colour palette of the artworks in this exhibition are the effects of a kind of realism that is more concerned with conveying the realities of contemporary experience than with naturalistic depiction. However, the gloomy image of history these works register—one of violence and repetition with few prospects for change—never slips into pessimism. Instead, they draw their force from seeking to split the difference between affirming the possibilities of contemporary experience and calling attention to its frequently disastrous outcomes.

Vancouver-based artist Raymond Boisjoly’s recent series of images, collectively titled The Writing Lesson, uses visual conventions associated with black metal music to create logos for indigenous place names such as Chilliwack, Massett and Nanaimo. Boisjoly lays out these Anglicized words with dripping, thorny embellishments and what he calls a “forced symmetry.” Like the band wordmarks to which they refer, Boisjoly’s decrepit tangles of letters often verge on illegibility. This iteration of Boisjoly’s ongoing project will be the largest yet, printed on a tarp, and taking its shape from the name Spuzzum, an unincorporated settlement north of Hope, BC.

Jordy Hamilton, an Ontario-born Vancouver-based artist, will exhibit a collection of appropriated images, including a pair of videos and a series of 4 × 6 inch photographic prints. These documents record instances of an event held at the artist’s family home in conjunction with an annual barbecue and trap shooting competition. Each year, the assembled picnickers would take aim at a beat up old motorcycle, propped in a field with its motor running, and shoot it until it burst into flames. The photographs are vintage prints that sequentially depict a motorcycle catching fire; the videos are digital transfers from cassette that reveal the degraded image quality of the originals.

Laura Piasta is a Vancouver-born artist currently based in Umeå, Sweden. Her sculpture, Crystallized Jean Jacket, consists of a denim jacket, hardened from having been soaked in saltwater and hung to dry, a process that leaves a delicate crystalline patterning all over the fabric. Pinned to the wall, the jacket’s slumping shape has a pathetic anthropomorphism, but also evokes the conspicuous absence of the body or bodies it might formerly have clothed.

Walter Benjamin held that the world continually tends towards decay. In the spirit of his inquiry into this process, each of these works offers a meditation on decay, while simultaneously seeking to uncover the transformative potential hidden within the patterns of everyday life.

This exhibition was made possible through support from the Killy Foundation and the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies through the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory in collaboration with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at The University of British Columbia.