May 11-June 19, 2018
With work by: Shannon Garden-Smith, Jenine Marsh, Tania Willard, and Fan Wu
Curated by Daniella Sanader
Open Studio, Toronto,
A Featured Exhibition in the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.
Accompanied by an essay by Daniella Sanader. Download the text here.
Photos: Colin Miner
Emphasizing practices that press, graze, and caress, The Shape of the Middle explores forms of touch that are essential to both printmaking and photography. The exhibition takes its inspiration from Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843) by Anna Atkins, the groundbreaking botanist and first person to publish a book illustrated with photographs. Studying their myriad shapes, Atkins contact-printed dried seaweed directly on cyanotype paper, producing images that both register empirical form while generating something intimate and ghostly in turn.
The artists in The Shape of the Middle employ techniques that resonate alongside Atkins’ cyanotype work. Through her collaborative BUSH Gallery project, Tania Willard’s Sovereign Sunshine series situates photogram printing within Indigenous frameworks: her unfixed images act as deeply-rooted records of gathering on land. Jenine Marsh’s intricate relief sculpture features clay pressings of flowers entwined across the gallery floor; the malleable middle-space between object and surface becoming an amorphous second skin. Shannon Garden-Smith’s work also pushes at the limits of what a print (or a photograph) can mean: swaths of a polyester blanket reveal delicate patterns, mark-making through touch that faces the danger of being wiped away completely. The exhibition will also feature a newly-commissioned text work by poet Fan Wu, exploring the strange sensualities that can emerge when an object grazes a surface.