The proscenium arch frames and contains the fictional space of the play – making it seem whole and to some extent, believable. The edges of the frame in cinema serve a similar unifying function. The video Proscenium disrupts and plays with the cinematic frame and continuity. The stage in a dilapidated Vaudeville theatre is shot with two separate cameras that each show exactly half of the proscenium arch and (due to the cone-like field-of-view of each lens) an overlapping portion of the stage area beyond. This overlap creates a space that is fictional: you see four doors, where the actual theatre has only two. The unifying influence of the proscenium makes the image seem whole and believable, but this truthful appearance is repeatedly disrupted by events at or near the seam where the two images meet.Proscenium brings together ideas and strategies that have been of ongoing interest in my work: an investigation of how representations are constructed; the melancholic power of the fragment; the pleasures of illusion; and the persistent desire to believe what we see. Ideas of gender as a duality or binary opposition are toyed with and disrupted, through the play with gender signifiers such as the “phallic” magic wand and sword, and a multiplicity of disguises and costumes. Proscenium is a fiction sutured together from fragments that uses the idea of the seam as a literal motif, placing a rupture in the centre of the image.
Also included in the exhibition are photographs of the two female and two male characters in the video, caught in apparently unguarded “off-stage” moments. All of the characters are portrayed by the same woman, the artist. Up close, they and their costumes exhibit signs of wear and tear not apparent in the video, revealing the seams and flaws in the construction of their onstage personae. Many of the images are mounted in elaborate oval frames that echo the gilded luxury of the proscenium arch in the video.
2015 BAC New Media Exhibition, curated by Monte Clark + Sherri Kajiwara. Byron Aceman’s Residence, Vancouver.
2010 Culture Shock: video interventions at the QET, curated by Stephanie Rebick.
2009 How Soon is Now, Vancouver Art Gallery. Curated by Kathleen Ritter. (catalogue)
2009 Proscenium. Republic Gallery, Vancouver.
How Soon is Now: Contemporary Art from Here. (Exhibition catalogue). Kathleen Ritter, curator. Vancouver Art Gallery, 2009.
CBC News Arts and Entertainment, March 24, 2009. Meet the Vanguard: An exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery celebrates the city’s hottest artists. By Kevin Chong.
The Georgia Straight. December 2, 2009. Carol Sawyer’s Proscenium a ghostly ode to a gilded past. By Robin Laurence.