236 Pender St East,
07 Mar–06 Jul 2024
07 March, 2024
T. +1 604.683.7395
25 April–23 May 1998
Curated by: Reid Shier
Fiona Bowie, Deliverance, exhibition at Or Gallery, 1998.
Deliverance might be perceived as a state of grace, a transitional space of liberation. In this installation, deliverance is a wry commentary on its own elusive nature, on the threat of its social underbelly and of its twilight nature. It is also an in-between moment in space, replete with images of a neighbourhood where the street where you live is not so much an invitation to romance as a murmur of its residents collective ennui.
Walking into the darkened room, you perceive an object which is vaguely reminiscent of some type of 19th medical or scientific device for examining viscera and the like. It is a projector, a circular apparatus, replete with motor, lens, filmstrips, colour transparency working to suggest an experimental film projector from another era. It casts its suburban deliverance onto the surrounding walls with a tidy languor.
These images are of a particularly monotonous neighbourhood , a spanking new development promising the epitome of cul-de-sac living.
step on a crack
break your mother’s back
A woman rubs her hand back and forth through her hair, a gesture of impatience, of weariness, of luxury even, the luxuriousness of ennui. A man types at his computer, echoing the woman’s gesture with his own caress of futility and stupor. These are not moments of rest, nor necessarily of anticipation, although they do anticipate, however the truth of mood rests in the sense of a solitary wait amidst the social conformity of architectural space.
Other images float by – leaves, bits of debris, and rats. These are the less pristine elements of suburbia – its dirty bits which mock (with helpful hints from Heloise in the kitchen) the rigid sameness of the two-car garages.
The contrast between the arthroscopic nature of the projector and the dreamy, blurry images it projects manifests as an unsettling sensation of this landscape, undermining the respectability and normalcy of its driveways, eaves, roofing systems, its pastel brand-newness. This cul-de-sac is truly the end of the road.
The space depicted here is unrelenting in its blandness, its bleakness, its pathos. There is the huge green electrical box, complacently installed on a front lawn, providing the necessary circuity for domestic harmony amongst its residents. It is there, but in its modern shell, it disappears into the environment, purring efficiently, never revealing its operating system. In contrast, the home-made projector is a one-off object, raw and unique, conjuring up the eccentric’s Rube Goldberg invention. However, what it offers is delivered with eloquence and grace, proposing both a question about filmic sensibility as well as one of its own making. Its construction belies the economic order of its projected scenario.
Relief from the despair is found in the quirky elements of the piece. Its mechanisms are not seamlessly hidden, the choppy syncopation of the motor acts as a bored backdrop to the actors, who are whimsically out of scale with the arch-uniformity of the houses. Even the dark brooding sky is almost tongue-in-cheek, like the transparency from which it originates.
Will I be handsome
Will I be rich
I tell them tenderly
Que sera sera