Denise Oleksijczuk is an assistant professor of Art and Culture Studies at the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. Her book on panoramas in Britain in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press. Since 2004, her work has been exhibited at the Or Gallery, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Contemporary Art Gallery, and at Solo Exhibition in Toronto.
June 21–July 26, 2008
Denise Oleksijczuk’s practice often focuses on the thin line between hope and despair. Past projects have included indexical text works including 200 Nouns (2004), a work that offers a litany of nouns to describe the idler that range from derogatory remarks to positive accolades. In The Origin of the World (2005) the artist compiled over 800 words from a variety of sources used to describe women. Humorous and disturbing, serious and laudatory, this work examines social representations of gender. Perennial Love (2005) expands the consideration of the singular noun to include phrases on the subject of love and loss sourced from novels, pop songs and comedy sketches. A crank handle allows the viewer to interact with work and animates the looped scroll, making explicit the artist’s interest in individual agency.
Her most recent project, Role, further investigates individual agency. Moving away from text but offering a continuation of her interest in exploring the limits of human experience, Oleksijczuk engages with the medium and history of film. Based on a reconsideration of Robert Bresson’s 1967 film Mouchette (after Georges Bernanos’ 1937 novella of the same name), Oleksijczuk’s work presents a new end to the story. Casting herself as a grown-up Mouchette, the artist reinterpret’s Bresson’s depiction of a child’s ragged solitude, her Christ-like suffering, and the ultimate control she assumes in her own drowning. In Role, Oleksijczuk reframes Bresson’s infamous suicide scene as a clumsy experiment rather than a transcendent release.
December 2–January 20, 2007
Kyla Mallett’s practice consistently examines the intersection of language and culture. Often bringing together the concerns of teens, feminism, and art history, Mallett borrows from the formal aesthetics of 1960s conceptual art and applies pseudo-sociological methods of sampling and archiving to reveal alternative networks of communication within various social milieus.
Past projects have included a combined photographic and text series that revealed the desires and perceptions of suburban youth; an audio piece that embedded anonymous gossip in the gallery walls; and a video project that documented adult women telling personal stories of bullying.
In keeping with her interest in alternative, often unsanctioned, forms of dialogue, Mallett’s current project for Artspeak moves these considerations into a wider social context. Marginalia is photographic project that centres on the margin notes and graffiti found in a selection of books from the Vancouver Public Library collection. Positioning the library as an alternative archive, the artist worked with the library staff to accumulate “damaged” materials in order to reveal a transgressive system of communication that coexists with the official institutional system of the library. If the library itself is emblematic of a sanctioned literary practice, the marginalia found within the “damaged” books then becomes an unsanctioned literary practice: unruly, anti-institutional, personal, and at times offensive. At once public and private, marginalia is an attempt to make one’s mark, to pass on thoughts and opinions. In representing the marginalia in situ, alongside the official text, Mallett’s work offers a conversation between the official structure and the voices that appear in the cracks, and posits yet another cross-over dialogue between the subjects of the books that range from teen suicide to Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Title: An Art of the Weak: Marginalia, Writers and Readers
Category: Artist Book / Exhibition Catalogue
Artist: Kyla Mallett
Writers: Kyla Mallett, Denise Oleksijczuk, Rachelle Sawatsky
Editor: Melanie O’Brian
Design: Jen Eby
Year published: 2007
Binding: Perfect Bound
Features: 52 b&w images
Dimensions: 19.5 x 13.5 x 1.5 cm
Weight: 226 g
Price: $6 CDN