Author Archive

A Dear Memory I Never Experienced: That Balloon is a Dead Man!

6-balloon-in-flight-ben-barak

Balloon in Flight/ Dead Man in a Sack

2013, oil on canvas, frame, brass plates, 7″x5″.

(click to enlarge)

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you see balloons in flight, or dead men in sacks? Well with this piece you don’t have to commit to either: designed to hang whichever way you please, with wire to do so at both ends.

In this series I was interested in creating balloon forms – but not the kind you often see taking off from fields, with graphics and advertising.  These are neutral, utilitarian: somber balloons that blend in rather than stand out. They are set in a warehouse environment in which the uniformity of stacked shipping containers make ‘up’ and ‘down’ directions interchangeable.

I was primarily interested in a design aesthetic, and decided to downplay literal elements, such as human figures in favor of texture, pattern and shape. Despite any simplification of form, the viewer is able to identify objects using culturally derived shape- association.  The “Balloon in flight” title plate is particularly important in that it reaffirms the viewers ability to recognize a balloon, even as the other plate undermines this recognition by presenting an unexpected – and even antithetical – alternative. The balloon, an image of freedom and possibility, is trapped in physical and psychological stasis;  a space devoid of direction and reason.  Thus the Balloon in Flight identifier serves a secondary function; as propaganda which seeks to inject a jollity and normality into the scene.  It is my intention that the pieces force the viewer into a kind of vertigo, leaving one not quite sure where they are standing – or what they are seeing: life or death.

 


A Dear Memory I Never Experienced: Sexting with the Queen

She’ll be Queen… Oh Baby She’s my queen

2013, oil on canvas, synthetic hair, ribbon, 5″x7″

(click to enlarge)

 

 

In this portrait miniature, Princess Elizabeth is dressed in her WWII era British army uniform. The small oil painting is displayed in a vintage, hinged metal frame to evoke an intimate keepsake, and a lock of hair testifies to its authenticity.

I want the viewer to imagine an exchange of hand painted sexts, with a Canadian war artist acting as an intermediary between Elizabeth and her suitor. I find it interesting to consider that the person receiving the ‘sext’ would essentially be interacting with the artist, and the artist is the one who is really having an emotional interaction with the Queen. Before photography, Aristocracy would often send hand painted portraits to their marriage prospects, and I find it amusing – and not so far fetched – to contemplate the possibility of this kind of ‘sexy’ interaction.

I want the viewer to stumble upon the piece in a Canadian home, and seeing it – unabashedly sitting on a table – wonder at the hidden events that had originated this artifact; wonder at the strange fetish that had produced such a forgery.

But really, this piece is an exploration of Canadian identity, and our individual relationships with the British Monarchy: A very distant, one-sided kind of intimacy.


A Dear Memory I Never Experienced: Oddities for the 21st Century

What differentiates memories of our own experiences from those that we have only observed? Does technology nullify these distinctions through collective sharing?

We observe other peoples experiences in intimate detail every day. I am interested in the manner in which these details are stored in our own memory, and particularly, in the potential to mis-remember them as ones own experience.

Pieces in this series represent fragmented memories. As memories, their individual narratives appear fraudulent, yet in their intimate size and careful framing, they present themselves as authentic; sentimental heirlooms and keepsakes. In this way they historicize themselves: dressed up as “ artifacts” they convey a legitimacy which supports their presented reality. Innocuously displayed around a home, these pieces will surprise the viewer, unexpectedly forcing them to engage as voyeur, accomplice, and even perpetrator, within an alien memory.

Midnight Drive (In My Trunk)

2013, oil on canvas, frame, 5″x7″

(click to enlarge)