Taking in an exhibition over soup sandwiches and ceramics



The latest exhibition at Illingworth Kerr Gallery In the making is an exploration of the intersection between technology and craft though my interaction with the show was decidedly and perhaps perfectly analog.


Sitting at a dinner table laid out with ceramic work by Alberta College of Art and Design alumni (plus a current student) ACAD grad Robin Lambert instructs me to choose between various sets consisting of two bowls and a plate. I opt for the work of Cathy Terepocki not only because I like the work but because I know her (if you go to the Calgary folk fest she’s the vendor in the custom Airstream trailer) and Lambert begins to lay out our meal.


The point of Lambert’s portion of the exhibition is fairly straightforward: to have lunch with people in the gallery. It’s part of his larger practice incorporating personal interaction as art — or if we’re being artsy about it relational aesthetics. He has thrown dinner parties created radio shows directed at one particular person and on several occasions has recruited two people to go out into a city and see if they can find each other.


As a participant in his lunchtime performance the feeling is one of comfort — good conversation sandwich soup — and unease. It’s odd sitting chatting and eating in an open gallery. During our meal only a few people walk in. Some ignore us some look on curious. There is no wall and they’re free to join the conversation but none do.


It’s also a great vantage point to take in the breadth of the exhibition curated by ACAD’s Diana Sherlock.


Immediately off to the side of our table is the video and textile work of Wednesday Lupypciw. Always eccentric Lupypciw’s work is wonderfully schizophrenic when viewed in snippets as my attention is drawn to the screen and then back to the conversation with Lambert.


“Yes I was born here.” Is she wearing a tinfoil outfit?


“The soup is great did you make it?” Hey where did that large man come from?


Peering out over the expanse of the gallery you take in Codex 1 and 2 by MacKenzie Kelly-Frère: two tables that appear to be topped with impossibly solid thin cloth. In reality a thin glass rectangle supports each.


Further down is Jolie Bird’s “Extended Long Play” which features a chair record player records and headphones meticulously wrapped in gold thread. The record player is contained in a matt grey box while the records are arranged in a matt grey stand bringing the warmth of the gold to the fore. It’s inviting and artificial all at once.


Lambert and I continue to get to know each other savouring the carrot and ginger soup with ham and cheese sandwiches. At one point the gallery assistant comes by to capture the moment on a camera set up off to the side of the table.


Peering down the gallery there are two enormous paper works that dominate the space Hyang Cho’ss “Trial II” and Dean Drever’s “Pass the Hat.” Cho’s piece is an enormous sheaf of paper partially unrolled from its starting point high up on the wall and inscribed with the text of The Trial by Franz Kafka. Drever’s intimidating work consists of 10666 sheets of paper stacked one on the other to form a totem. Both are studies in contrast between complexity and simplicity.


The other standout in the exhibition is Brendan McGillicuddy’s “Overtone.” It’s an intricate wooden sculpture featuring layers of intersecting pieces that create a hypnotic depth sitting like an incomplete and overly sophisticated architectural model.


Towards the end of the gallery space the blending of technology and craft reaches its apex with small detailed artifacts created using 3D printing technology. The intricate steampunk-like objects sitting detached and on display tempt the viewer to pick them up and examine their functions.


Taking in this well-thought-out exhibition over simple food eaten from handmade dishes was a unique experience and it’s a shame that more people couldn’t discover it from that point of view. The experience fit within the exhibition’s larger context of intimacy and scale of craft and technology of the personal and the detached. That and Lambert makes a pretty good soup.