This March 15 marked the exhibition opening of Toronto-based Abbas Akhavan’s work Beacon at the Darling Foundry. There was also an open studio opportunity for the public to see work in progress by international artists in residence.
We were first struck by the enormity of the open space that Akhavan’s work was in. Over time, though, a great deal of this space was filled by a slowly inflating (and then deflating) hot air balloon.
In the video, you will also see a very short glimpse of the second main element in “Beacon”. This is a lion-like form, made out of mortar. The form was made in reference to an Iranian sculpture, the “Stone Lion” of Hamedan. Even if the viewer did not understand this, it made the impression of replicating a relic (even though it was, obviously, crafted for the exhibition.)
The balloon felt like respiration. It noted the expanse of the available room. It was quite striking, and everyone kept a respectful distance from it.
Overall the work gave an impression of temporality, air, place, erosion, and impermanence.
In the working studio area of the Darling Foundry we had the fortune to meet, chat with, and see the work of Dineo Bopape. She is in the midst of a six month international residency hosted by the Darling Foundry and the Canada Council for the Arts. She is from South Africa. Her work is video-based, and also includes installation, sculpture, and painting.
Bopape’s video work (what I spent the most time with, outside of almost drooling on some of her painted sketches of patterns using mostly orange paint) uses pattern, narrative, and a keen and sometimes quirky sort of observation. The piece about green grass and blue sky was both simple and mesmerizing, and reminded me of the one time I fainted. Everything was crisp, simplified, out of breath, and hyper-real. The patterns in the overlapping grasses were overwhelming.
Other of her works used theatrical elements such as dance, storytelling, and singing. Forms of life and the natural word made their appearances, too… ducks, humans, patterns of sparkly water, and what looked like tulips.
When her work delves into the use of natural patterns, objects, and animals it still seems to reference the human body. It is the human take on these other things that comes across in the video. The feeling that I had of fainting, as well as the empathy within her other videos, that is maturity and sureness being expressed. I am excited to see what Bopape will present upon her finishing the residency in June.
We will announce her exhibition in our newsletter, so there is no time like the present to sign up.
Akhavan’s Beacon runs until May 27. The Darling Foundry is located at 745 Ottawa, in that funky neighourhood between the Old Port and Griffintown.
Natasha Henderson, Montreal