Klein


July 14 - August 25, 2018

Meryl McMaster
Ancestral / Second-Self.

Opening Saturday July 14th from 3pm to 6pm
The artist will be present.

963 rue Rachel Est
Montréal QC H2J 2J4

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ABOUT THE SHOW  /  WORKS PRESENTED  /  LINKS  / 





ABOUT THE SHOW



Ancestral

Ancestral began as an experiment, turning the camera upon myself and my father as a way of examining an aspect of my own Indigenous heritage. I collected a variety of historical photographic portraits and paintings from the late 19th century of various Indigenous men and women. These portraits were photographs taken by American photographers Edward S. Curtis and Will Soule and works of the painter George Catlin. These three men had an objective with their work - to document as much of Native American traditional life as possible from across America, believing that Native people were disappearing and that their way of life must be collected at once or the opportunity would be lost. They directed their subjects and manipulated images to show a lifestyle and culture of the past. Their ideas and misrepresentations were spread throughout the general public, leaving people to assume that Indigenous people were disappearing and that these images were all that remained. In fact, my ancestors were still very much alive, just not in the way that they were depicted in these images.

We have grown used to how popular culture represents or misrepresents people, especially in movies, often through questionable stereotypes. These misrepresentations are a subtle kind of bodily or corporeal containment. This led me to question how we arrived at this point of representing people in this manner and how we might release the subjects from these representations.

I scanned the images and then used a digital projector to shine the portraits on to the bodies of myself and my father. I painted both of our faces and torsos with white paint, like a screen, allowing the projections to appear more clearly on our bodies. This process of playing with light and projection on the body creates a surreal and ghost like quality to the images, with aspects of the past and present subject visible.

In appropriating these images, I want to move them away from the stereotypes of romanticizing and classification. Historically, photography was used to capture otherness– to freeze cultures and people only to be gazed at. I want to reclaim my ancestors’ identity from these stereotypes and blur the ideas associated with the indigenous body in the western photographic tradition. I also feel that by extracting my ancestors from the historical images, time collapses and they step through me into the present.

-MM

Second-Self

My interest in the complexities of identity led me to work on a project exploring the identities of others. Second-Self. reconsiders portraiture by incorporating drawing and sculpture to evoke a world not normally seen by the naked eye. The thematic ideas of identity and masking led me to the concept of 'persona'. We invent personas – or social masks – through clothing, hairstyles and posture, for example, and they have come to define the individual for the public while concealing the real person.

I began to explore the use of social masks by asking friends not technically trained in drawing to create blind-contour portraits of themselves. I felt this process started to portray that true self, as their facial features are reconfigured in strange ways that are telling of the subjects' self-concept or betray the distortions of self-perception. Using wire, I created sculptures that were exact representations of these drawings. Next, I suspended the sculptures in front of my subjects' faces.

The sculptures became masks – or personas – that subtly concealed and changed the subjects' perceived identities. I also painted their faces white to represent this protective social mask or persona we wear, either real or metaphorical. The sculptures are humorous and unsettling, with their gaze and white face paint it presents them in a way that is abnormal and that can appear confrontational and challenging while at the same time lighthearted and playful.

Throughout this process, I felt as though I was drawing from the formal tradition of portraiture, especially as I was working with a familiar yet political part of the body – the head. The head is the embodiment of our self-perception and of how we desire to be perceived by others. It is a part that is often misunderstood, misinterpreted and misrepresented.

Through experimentation with strange and artificial representations of the body, Second-Self. helped me to develop a stronger understanding of identity while providing an opportunity to comment on the challenges of accurately representing identity through portraiture.

-MM

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Meryl McMaster is a Canadian artist based in the city of Ottawa. Her work is predominantly photography based, incorporating the production of props, sculptural garments and performance forming a synergy that transports the viewer out of the ordinary and into a space of contemplation and introspection.

McMaster is the recipient of the Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award, the REVEAL Indigenous Art Award, Charles Pachter Prize for Emerging Artists, the Canon Canada Prize, the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, the OCAD U Medal and was long listed for the 2016 Sobey Art Award.

Her work has been acquired by various public collections within Canada and the United States, including the Canadian Museum of History, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Eiteljorg Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Her work has been included in exhibitions throughout Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, the Eiteljorg Museum, the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Mendel Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Her solo touring exhibition Confluence is currently at The Rooms in St-John’s, Newfoundland. Her work will be featured later this year at Art Toronto in a solo project booth co-organized by Stephen Bulger Gallery and Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain.


WORKS


Ancestral

McMaster   McMaster   McMaster
Ancestral 2
digital chromogenic print
101,6 x 76,2 cm (40" x 30")
2010
1/5
  Ancestral 5
digital chromogenic print
101,6 x 76,2 cm (40" x 30")
2010
1/5
  Ancestral 6
digital chromogenic print
101,6 x 76,2 cm (40" x 30")
2010
1/5


McMaster   McMaster   McMaster
Ancestral 9
digital chromogenic print
101,6 x 76,2 cm (40" x 30")
2010
1/5
  Cougar
digital chromogenic print
101,6 x 76,2 cm (40" x 30")
2010
1/5
  Eagle
digital chromogenic print
101,6 x 76,2 cm (40" x 30")
2010
1/5


Second-Self

McMaster   McMaster   McMaster
Caitlin
digital chromogenic print
91 x 91 cm (36" x 36")
2010
2/5
  Elise
digital chromogenic print
91 x 91 cm (36" x 36")
2010
1/5
  Jin
digital chromogenic print
91 x 91 cm (36" x 36")
2010
1/5


McMaster    
Meryl I
digital chromogenic print
91 x 91 cm (36" x 36")
2010
2/5
 
   





LINKS

- Meryl McMaster's artist website
- Click here to download the Meryl McMaster's recent C.V.
- Robert Enright. "Picturing the Red Line: Interview with Meryl McMaster", Border Crossings, Issue 146, June 2018

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