The Mouth Holds The Tongue, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto
A collaborative project by Laurie Kang, Nadia Belerique, and Lili Huston-Herterich
Curated by Julia Paoli
June 20 - September 7, 2015
Nadia Belerique, Lili Huston-Herterich and Laurie Kang employ distinct approaches to the investigation of the intrinsic playfulness and performativity of objects and photographs in their individual artistic practices. Invited to work collectively for The Power Plant, the artists’ first group project appears within the frame of a wider examination of contemporary collaboration.
Taking this invitation as its starting point, The Mouth Holds the Tongue foregrounds the pleasures inherent in representing and experiencing time and space. It points towards collaborative methodologies by privileging temporal fissures and offering temporality as a visceral means of organizing individuals non-hierarchically. The forms of collaboration implicit in this project are not found simply within the artists’ collectivity but implicate the curator, the institution, the viewer and the space of the gallery itself.
Aimed at redistributing institutional forms of power, the artists’ site-specific architectural structure renders fluid the roles of all those involved in the exhibition as well as those of the artworks and walls that bear them as they begin to meld and fold into one another. Effectively turning the gallery space upside-down, this approach functions to entangle bodies through non-sequential interactions. In so doing, the artists provide opportunities for those navigating their space to connect in varying degrees of reciprocity.
The structure’s reference point comes from architect Aldo Van Eyck’s temporary pavillion built for the 1966 Sonsbeek Exhibition in Arnhem, Netherlands. The pavillion, originally intended to house a series of artworks, sought to achieve Van Eyck’s concept of labyrinthine clarity, an architectural approach aimed at offering a more playful and fluid interaction amongst individual users. Such structures employing this concept embrace the ambiguity of time and space and prompt their users to move freely within them. The artists’ reworking of Van Eyck’s Sonsbeek hinges on a sense of feminist rigour in its redistribution of the architectural elements typically found in the white cube. Having been turned upside-down, the walls of the structure curve and bend spontaneously, hanging above the floor in an effort to propose a more horizontal approach to interaction. More, the artists’ choice of construction materials themselves evoke possibilities for growth and activity to occur.
The exhibition’s title therefore alludes to the artists’ conception of the space itself: a richly active and fertile environment that breeds multiple metaphors and interpretations. By reframing conventional hierarchies through the exhibition’s form and gestural treatments, the artists provoke consideration of both the feasibility and impossibility of the concepts underpinning their project through its concrete manifestation. The space and its users are thus at once the mouth and tongue working together; the structure actively embodying the possibility to redistribute the roles and positions of its inhabitants.