Impel With Puffs Kelly Jazvac and Kelly WoodNew Page
Diaz Contemporary, 21 February to 23 March, 2013
Reviewed by Stephanie Cormier, published in Border Crossings magazine, Summer 2013
The dissemination of information, how we are seduced, the material detritus left behind from such seduction and the infrastructure of life that supports contemporary luxury all come to mind when viewing Impel With Puffs. This exhibition, presented by Diaz Contemporary in Toronto, featured two solo exhibitions that also created a dialogue between the two London-based artists, sculptor Kelly Jazvac and photographer Kelly Wood. The two bodies of work – Jazvacs salvaged vinyl sculpture and wall works, and Wood’s photographs addressing issues of pollution – created a space where ideas concerning the afterlife of human presence were brought to the forefront. Those concerns, specifically ones of environmental waste and media, leave traces, and these traces are then picked up by Wood and Jazvac, becoming the medium with which this work – and this exhibition- was produced.
Kelly Jazvac has been working with salvaged vinyl from advertising for several years - bending, folding and laminating large shards to form her sculptures. However, most of these works are barely sculpture in the traditional idea of a structure existing in three-dimensional space. Laminated together and delivered to us in Fed-Ex form from some otherworldly place or recess of the mind, these compressed planes create a well sealed (albeit slightly tampered) packaging of all that surrounds us. Jazvac brings us our world in a two-dimensional wrap format recreating a new and hollow third dimension. This wrapping slumps into its forms questioning both a failure of sculptural integrity and a prostration of two-dimensional forms – paper, cardboard, vinyl, plastic. The forms that refuse to completely flatten, curl towards us as if to renounce their materials original intended use.
In the two works Battle of Leisure (this one standing fourteen feet high) and An Alcove within a Niche, Jazvac explores some new additions to her work with steel poles and stanchions that hold flat works in space as if they are presentation screens. On the “back-side” of each piece, the “screen” is reflective and is emphasized with a light source – either a single or double lamp component. These new props help to immortalize the presence or origins of her salvaged material. Like resurrecting ghosts, the print format of media and the digital dissemination of contemporary information is referred to here. However, there is a lack in its present form. Where does this information, this media, come from and what are it’s sources; what does it represent? In this presentation, there is a suggestion of mere reflection of tangible reality, the phantasmagoric presentation of lifestyle.
In the work Red Teaming, A rectangle of vinyl depicting a section of grass, has had a large section cut away in the centre – a long strip remains above and another longer strip dangles away at the bottom. On the section of rectangle that remains, the vinyl is slightly folded and a small pleat sewn into it with thread; at the corners where the section has been cut away, the material folds outward revealing an underside depicting something that is bright yellow and plastic. This piece is typical of her work in its suggestion of several planes in a mostly flat work, however the recognizable and organic imagery of grass is unusual in comparison to the mass-produced luxury consumer goods that are often referred to in her work. Here a natural and organic (although groomed) substance becomes fair game in a world of commodities.
This reference to the organic leads to the body of work produced by Kelly Wood. If Jazvac collects the leftovers of public advertising that infiltrate our
environment, Wood collects evidence of infiltration that is harder to track – ephemeral evidence at once beautiful and ominous. In continuing her photo-based work exploring waste politics - the accumulation of waste, environmental issues and pollution, Wood creates a parallel dialogue with Jazvac in questioning both this waste and the ambiguous nature of permanence and solid form.
The photographs on immediate view blur the boundary between nature and human-produced pollution. The puffy smoke against bright blue skies appears no more menacing than billowing clouds – their airy and benign nature beg us to hold our suspension of belief for just a few seconds longer. We are aware that, like clouds, these cottony pillows are ephemeral. The camera capturing this puff of chemicals slows us down and forces us to wonder what indeed this pollution is made of. What happens when it disappears from the eye so quickly; how dangerous is “nothing” – how dangerous is the air and how often do we think of what we cannot see?
In all the unpopulated photographs we see there are sections of blue sky with small references to infrastructure here and there – a top of a smoke stack, power lines, a chem trail, highway lamps. The only substances that suggest movement – and therefore the only ones with any life- are the billows of smoke and clouds. These trails that we send up to the sky, float, dissipate and live with the atmosphere. Wood’s previous projects have included The Continuous Garbage Project, a series in which she documented her weekly garbage. Photographing a black plastic bag full of her waste each week, Wood produced a slowly shrinking animated portrait of her yearly disposal and also put herself up for scrutiny. In this project at Diaz Contemporary Wood turns the scrutiny outward to the public, to the shared space and air that we all breathe. Perhaps we can follow her challenge and by allowing these puffs to remain in our consciousness, we can commit to collectively shrink these ominous clouds in the atmosphere.
Both Jazvac and Wood are contemplating visual seduction, from sourcing glossy advertising material and material products to capturing the ephemeral. Whether seduction is the medium or the message, both artists question the visible and invisible forms that shape our modes of communication, consumption and disposal.