Robyn Laba is a Vancouver based artist. Since receiving her BA in Art History and Studio Art from the University of British Columbia in 1998, she has had solo exhibitions at the Or Gallery, Vancouver and her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery and Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver.
Sharla Sava is a writer and university educator. She has lectured, curated exhibitions, and published a variety of articles about art after modernism, discussing the work of Robert Filliou, Antonia Hirsch, Ray Johnson, N.E. Thing Co., and Jeff Wall, among others. She completed her PhD at SFU in 2006 and is currently Assistant Professor at York University.
Director/Curator of Artspeak 2004–2010.
May 26–June 23, 2007
Robyn Laba’s practice investigates the weight of materiality, labour and information. Often referencing modernist markers and tropes through humourously employed everyday materials, Laba’s past works include large-scale monochromes constructed from woven, deflated balloons and a project that explored the faculties of thinking and judging in the work of political theorist/philosopher Hannah Arendt. Newsworks, her new work for Artspeak, considers the accumulation and almost immediate obsolescence of matter and information via newspapers. Her stacked and swirled column of discoloured and out-of-date newspapers references the cylindrical form and potential violence of a tornado. Like an upended tower of Babel, Newsworks presents newspapers as simultaneously disposable and enduring cultural objects. The newspaper form is threatened with obsolescence by television and the Internet and its information is almost immediately obsolete as it gets replaced the next day. However, its materiality (and perhaps its content) persists; it remains an object in the world and in this case, a building block for a potential Tatlin-esque edifice.
Invoking the authority of the monument through its sheer mass and volume, the reading of Newsworks is complicated by the fleetingness of the material. Newsworks’ swirling stack is unstable in construction, like the paper itself and the questionable facts it provides. Its daunting scale points to the pressure to assimilate volumes of information in order to judge and act in the world. Antithetical to the permanence of the cenotaph or memorial, the newspapers and their form literally turn the monument on its head. Together, the work’s conceptual and physical references, its instability and scale, draw out discussions of sensory knowledge versus mediated knowledge. The use of newspapers references the potential of a so-called democratic medium, its mass production and its popular appeal. Part sculpture/architecture and part collage, Newsworks instigate discussions around information dissemination and manipulation. In the face of knowledge “overload,” Laba’s work examines the desire to synthesize the sheer magnitude of information in the world while recognizing that it is fleeting.
May 26, 2007
Artist talk presented in conjunction with the exhibition, Newsworks.