Helen Cho

Helen Cho studied at Ontario College of Art and has exhibited at Gallery BODA and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea, at YYZ, Toronto, at VTO Gallery, London and at Galerie Wieland, Berlin. Her performance work has been presented in Switzerland and Korea, and her film work has been presented at the International Women’s University in Hanover.


  • Placebo

    June 12–July 16, 2004

    Placebo features two artists who use everyday objects and substances to investigate consumption and states of embodiment.

    Colleen Wolstenholme’s work uses images of pills and corporate logos found on the internet as sources for projects in sculpture, photography, painting and embroidery. Psychotropic and analgesic medications are charged with a range of social, sexual and cultural content, and Wolstenholme has wed these associations to a range of cultural practices. The history of handicraft informs her labour-intensive petit point reproductions of pharmaceutical logos. Colour photographs and inkjet prints manipulate the branding of pills and other consumed substances, such as cigarettes and alcohol, into patterns suggested by their shapes and clinical effects. From floral motifs to patterns that are reminiscent of molecular structures and constellations, Wolstenholme’s wry work draws upon the distance between the uniform, brightly coloured, text-embossed aesthetic of these goods and remedies, and their function, effect or social significance.

    Helen Cho uses the sensual presence of soap and sugar in installations that reflect the permeable and transitional nature of these substances. Luxurious and exuding an overbearing scent, these concentrated and heavily processed materials are manipulated and placed in ephemeral arrangements in relation to the architecture of the gallery. The usual intimacy between soap and body is undercut through paring and grating, and through embedding remnants of everyday life, such as beads and pins. These fossils, when placed in piles of glittering refined sugar, become part of an idealized landscape. Too Sweet! Go Away! evokes the slippery interiors and exteriors of the body and the equally blurred division between the two. Both subtle and extreme, this installation draws upon our familiarity with substances we consume daily, and transforms them, intensifying a sense of absorption, from without and within, of material culture.


  • Placebo

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    Title: Placebo
    Category: Exhibition Catalogue
    Artist: Helen Cho, Colleen Wolstenholme
    Writers: Lorna Brown, Holly Ward
    Editor: Artspeak
    Design: Robin Michell
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Year published: 2004
    Pages: 15pp
    Cover: Paper fold out velcro
    Binding: Single Bolt
    Process: Offset
    Features: 8 colour images
    Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 1.5
    Weight: 61 g
    ISBN: 0-921394-49-7
    Price: $4 CDN

    Placebo is published on the occasion of a two-person exhibition featuring Helen Cho and Colleen Wolstenholme, which took place at Artspeak between June 12 and July 16, 2004.

    A placebo, whether a sugar pill used in clinical trials or an effect of belief upon our perceived experience, stands in for something else in a way similar to the function of representation. In their work, Cho and Wolstenholme draw upon the strategy of substitution to extract the full evocatory potential of materials and images.

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