Sutures art exhibition at Visual Arts Clarington signifies healing and new life


Published July 18, 2022 at 10:40 am

After more than two years of suffering as we watched our loved ones succumb to a deadly virus; after two years of witnessing our nation divided as we squabble over the best way to rebound from the pandemic and bring some form of normalcy to our lives, perhaps it’s an art exhibit that can best sum up the process of recovery; of healing and of new life.

In the exhibition Sutures, Eve Tagny and Emii Alrai have stitched together duelling notions of a wound across explosive times and physical space. After injury, a suture weaves broken pieces back into a whole. Its bands pull together, forcing two lacerations to meet as the body recovers from incision. Though rough and imperfect, these markings imply a severing that at once imprint signifiers of new life and healing.

Curated by Matthew Kyba and Megan Kammerer, the exhibit runs from July 3 to September 4 at the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington.

Tagny (Montréal) and Alrai (Leeds, UK) also represent the gallery’s inaugural international residency and site-specific duo installation taking place this Summer 2022.

Tagny and Alrai came together after months of digital collaboration – drawing inspiration from a recent virtual project that investigated how non-Western cultures represent trauma through landscape and artifacts – before deciding to “harmonize their interests” in the gallery’s physical space.

Eve Tagny, Gestures for a Mnemonic Garden, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montréal, 2020

The artists arrived in Clarington late last month for a one-month residency, with plans to visit garden sites, research local history, explore regional iconography, and examine how monuments propagate territorial statehood and settlement in Durham. With free studio access, the pair will experiment in ceramic hand building, film making, and video projection to create multidisciplinary installations that blur the line between each individual practice.

As China Miéville wrote, “Scars are memory. Like sutures. They stitch the past to me.” After injury, a suture makes you whole. Its scar, though rough or imperfect, is a transformative process as it signifies a healing, not unlike Alrai and Tagny’s production as the artists negotiate themes of reflection, healing, and physical reconnection.

Emii Alrai, The Courtship of Giants, Eastside Projects, Birmingham, 2022

Informed by inherited nostalgia, geographical identity, and post-colonial museum practices of collecting/displaying objects, Alrai weaves together historical narratives by forging artifacts and visualizing residues of cultural collision. Her work contains elements which are broken or unfinished and hover between the formal polish of an imperial museum, archaeological dig, or the residue of a performance. Alrai questions the value and origin of artifacts, while navigating diasporic experiences.

Tagny focuses on how communities at the margins commit to living, rather than merely surviving through a lens-based installation practice. She centers garden spaces to mend traumatic disruptions in accordance with nature. She investigates these man-made sanctuaries that simultaneously encompass all stages of the living—from luscious growth to decay—to engage in processes of renewal, reconnection, and transformation.

Eve Tagny is a Tiohtià:ke/Montreal-based artist. Her practice considers gardens and disrupted landscapes as mutable sites of personal and collective memory — inscribed in dynamics of power, colonial histories, and their legacies. Weaving lens-based mediums, installation, text and performance, she explores spiritual and embodied expressions of grief and resiliency, in correlation with nature’s rhythms, cycles, and materiality.

Emii Alrai’s practice is informed by inherited nostalgia, geographical identity and post-colonial museum practices of collecting and displaying objects. Focusing on ancient mythologies alongside oral histories, Alrai weaves together narratives by forging artefacts and visualising residues of cultural collision. Often working at large scale, she creates sculptural installations that recall musicological displays and dioramas, natural landscapes and processes of decay and ruin that question the verity of the historical record.

Installation view of Emii Alrai, The Courtship of Giants, Eastside Projects, Birmingham, 2022. Photo Credit: Stuart Whipps.

Image: Installation detail of Eve Tagny, Gestures for a Mnemonic Garden, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montréal, 2020. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Artist.

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