Sterling enjoyed her first press conference this week. Missing the remarks, I’d venture to say that her personal highlight of the Contact Media Preview was playing tag with MOCCA head of operations Brett Despotovich. She was also particularly entranced by Tundrunning, a looping video by Canadian artist Dominique Rey, which features the artist running through the snow and falling, clad in an absurd fluorescent green costume typical of those created for the series.
The figures in the works are all covered in layers of stuffed nylon stockings, sometimes hanging testicularly with filled water balloons or mounds of plush white cellulite. Similar in some ways to Cindy Sherman’s explorations of feminine persona, all of the photos document Rey in various uninhibited attempts to uncover “the other within.” In a short conversation, Rey described how analysis of her previous works unearthed a preoccupation with women on the outskirts of society. Rey has photographed the entire virgin/whore gamut- pretty literally- from documenting a disappearing order of nuns to living with exotic dancers.
Through the pieces on show this May at MOCCA, Rey embarked on the “futile” attempt to uncover the other within herself. Armed with a tickle-trunk of props, the artist travels to remote locations- mostly in her native Manitoba- and frees herself in bizarre posture play.
I was also lucky enough to have a chat with the gentle and engaging young Meryl McMaster. (You can also see some of her work on permanent display in Liberty Village in the foyer of the Mildred’s Temple Kitchen/Goodlife Fitness building) Her photos also feature herself in a variety of identities. The works were inspired by the “solo” portions of two Outward Bound trips she took in her mid-teens. During these adventures, participants are given the knowledge and tools to survive by themselves for three days in the wilderness. Half First-Nations herself, McMaster easily drew the connections between these sometimes boring, sometimes terrifying and ultimately expansive moments to the vision quests routinely embarked upon by native youth.
Each of the works in her series are inspired by a diverse interplay of a remembering of personal emotions and the attempt to delve into her cultural history. In Wind Play, McMaster conjures the excited youthful expansiveness of her Outward Bound vision quest into an enchanted personification of a playful beast that easily evokes sasquatches’ own first ecstasy trip. The artist created the costume by sewing together 5000 long balloons (the kind used for making balloon animals).
Contact officially kicks off tonight with an opening party at MOCCA. Tomorrow, join Material Self photographers Namsa Leuba, Dominique Rey and David Favrod for a talk at the gallery at 11:30am. Also, come to the gallery for a tour by curators Bonnie Rubenstein and David Liss on Wednesday, May 14 at 6pm.
Header Image: Dominique Rey, After the Shower, 2011