by Shaina Dickson
The New Media Gallery in New Westminister opened its latest exhibition, AMOUR FOU, appropriately on Valentines Day. Ten featuring artists take on the daunting task of exposing what love truly is: raunchy, damaging, but something we always fall back to. From flashy video installations and large-scale projections to kinky neon works, this versatile exhibition gives the viewer a sensory overload; the gallery is overflowing with sound and light, which fill the space with the anxious energy that we often feel throughout our affairs with love. Despite the exhibit inhabiting nine individual pieces, I couldn’t help but perceive them as one large, interconnected piece. The lights and sounds emanating from each work overlap and interact with one another: layering and conversing, never allowing the viewer to isolate their experience with one piece.
Tracey Emin’s buzzing neon work, “When I think About Sex I think about Men, Women, Dogs, Lions, Group Sex, (and I Love You All)”  was one of the first artworks I encountered. This white neon sign, written in Emin’s handwriting, is a catalyst for vulnerability and desire, revealing one’s psychological processes that remain suppressed to the most. Through breaking the ice and screaming the taboo, the gallery becomes a space where anything goes. Over the buzzing of the neon, I followed the audio that prevailed. “I’m Not The Girl Who Misses Much”  by Pipilotti Rist, shows Rist dancing in a frenzy while repeatedly singing ‘I’m not the girl who misses much’, as heard in the Beatles song ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’, . The fluctuating speed of the video and endless repetition of the title phrase transform her words into a meaningless uncanny mantra. This led me into a separated living room setting, complete with couch and disco ball, in which Jillian McDonald’s “Me and Billy Bob” is projected on the wall. McDonald digitally inserts herself into scenes with Billy Bob Thornton in which she becomes the object of his affection, all while his romantic duet Starlight Lounge plays. A sense of voyeurism is installed in the viewer, and perhaps uneasiness due to the obsessive and desperate nature of the video. However, the piece has subtle beauty, creating dialogue around misplaced intimacy and loneliness as a result of our technologically mediated society.
To the French, “Amour Fou” is love in all of its chaotic, self-isolating, maddening glory. This exhibition, attempts to expose love in its entirety−from the romantic to the obsessive, from the gentle to the abusive−all while acknowledging that in pursuit of this ideal love, we often push ourselves farther away.
Amour Fou features works by Tracey Moffatt, Tracey Emin, Pipilotti Rist, Matthias Muller & Christoph Girardet, Nicolas Provost, R.Luke DuBois, Jillian McDonald, Brendan Van Hek, Angela Washko until April 12th.