The human body in all of its iterations is performative. Grounded by materiality, our bodies are caught forever in a flux of becoming, responsive to the innumerable possibilities of being immutably different and other.
Bringing together a broad spectrum of artists and collaborations from Canada, the exhibition draws out and delineates the rich scope of aesthetic, critical, and philosophical positions underscoring the politics of the performative body. Recognising the implicit struggles against colonialism, patriarchy, and capitalism waged on and within the body, the exhibition actively asserts the necessity of claiming ownership of the body throughout its performative and discursive iterations.
Indicating and referencing the multitude of cultures, psychologies, identities, and genders at stake in the artists’ works, the exhibtion addresses the dynamics of power and its resistant double, the unrestrained agency of becoming. Underscored by this ambtion Ambiguous Becoming offers a portrayal of bodies in the moment of their resistance to the twin horrors of objectification and unfettered consumption.
In their collaborative video work Triangle Trade (2017), Jérôme Havre, Cauleen Smith, and Camille Turnerengage with what blackness means in a colonial context composed of the displacement and deterritorialization haunting the aftereffects of the slave trade. Following a cross-borders conversation, each artist created an avatar puppet and a distinct world to represent themselves. Activated by the artists, the avatars in their movement move through their respective surroundings are simultaneously isolated and connected.
Artist duo Chloë Lum and Yannick Desranleau presents the two-channel video installation What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest? (2018), accompanied by the live performance Becoming Unreal(2018). What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest? shows on two adjacent screens a singer and a choir, between them is woven a narrative of chronic illness expressed through a multifold relationship with objects. In these videos, questions of agency and liveness constantly switch between beings and things. Examining the active role of objects, the workconsiders the restrictive and supportive capacities of bodies—both human and non-human ones. Performed by a soprano at the exhibition preview, Becoming Unreal offers a duet between a performing body and the objects that carry its gestures and weight.
In their video series Narrative Reflections on Looking (2016–17), Victoria Sin addresses issues of identification with images, especially in relation to the construction of gender and cultural identity through language, and highlights the dynamics of power that reside in the act of looking. From a non-binary position and through drag aesthetics, Sin performs femininity as a fluid concept that is not essential to womanhood and not natural to any particular body.