by Jane Sojin Kim
On the fringe of January, the Concourse Gallery at Emily Carr University was transformed into a dreamscape. In the exhibition Stratified Spaces, people’s stories were poetically narrated through photographs and installations. Images of the interior and exterior of houses provoked memories of home, while other installations lured me into a completely new and untouched—even surreal—realm.
A gigantic white balloon floated above a cliff-like installation, immediately rendering an image of the sun, yet also suggesting the danger of a sudden explosion. This ironically contradicted the sun’s infinite vitality as it rose along the horizon and established a new fictional dawn. An installation piece that lay beneath the cliff was a ceramic pot where a long pliable wooden panel was planted; it gently bent over as fabric drooped loosely at its end. Its delicate silhouette resembled a withered flower, yet it contained a kind of energy, as if it were an evening primrose whose bloom only flowered after the sunset. The piece’s vital relation to the sun-like balloon gave a poeticism to the space.
While abstracted fantasy loomed large on one side of the exhibition, on the opposite wall were photographs of tranquil scenery and images of everyday dwellings illuminated by vibrant, rich colours. The frames of the photographs acted as windows that viewers could peek through. While the space within the frame was curiously absent of figures, each image offered inexplicable warmth and a longing for human presence.
Composed of poetic photographs and conceptual installations, the exhibition successfully joined its two halves: a place of memory and nostalgia on the one side, and offering new experiences on the other. The mix of the two allowed viewers to wrestle with the space between the real and the imaginary. Imbued with mystery, abstraction and melancholy, Stratified Spaces was a temporary utopia that undoubtedly left a strong impression on those it touched.
Stratified Spaces took place from January 28th to February 5th and included work from artists: Tobin Gibson, Emily Neufeld, Lexie Owen, Heidi Kerr, Sarah Davidson, Miriam Kleingeltink, Olivia Lowe, Soledad Munoz, Stefan Sollenius, Brigitte Lochhead.