Deirdre Logue and Allyson Mitchell have created their own universe within the walls of the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre.
The Toronto-based artists run Toronto’s Feminist Art Gallery (FAG) in the backyard of their home. Their current exhibition I’m Not Myself At All, curated by Sarah E.K. Smith, opened on May 2 and runs until August 9.
The artists have put on a larger than life display about femininity, sexuality and identity complete with over-sized objects such as books, a pink highlighter, yarn and dolls. The collection aims to demonstrate the existence of the queer community within our ordinary universe.
“I interpret the exhibition as Logue and Mitchell exploring and pursuing these exhausting but vitally important radical ideals as they occur in everyday life,” said Sunny Kerr, the exhibition coordinator, via email.
Logue and Mitchell use a variety of mixed mediums to create their idealized queer world, including drawings, video, large dolls, crochet, needlepoint and paper mache. These materials and techniques have historically been feminized, said Kerr. The artists’ use of them is an act of reclaiming.
“Mitchell and Logue bring contemporary aesthetic and political concerns forward precisely by looking at and taking up past radical practices,” Kerr said.
For example, the artists use crocheting and needlepoint — artistic techniques typically associated with women — to promote the deconstruction of gender norms.
The first section of the exhibition features two walls covered from the ceiling to the floor with pencil-drawings. The drawings depict books with various titles regarding feminism, queerness, gender identity and lesbian literature.
According to Kerr, the piece, titled Recommended Reading, suggests that people must be educated on topics of radical feminism. Otherwise, he said, the artists’ ideal universe will never become reality. The book titles suggest there’s already a place for queerness within our world, he added.
There’s a video loop displayed on a wall in the same room. The video displays images and sounds of everyday domestic routines, including women washing dishes and making beds. The images depict ways their idealized queer world fits in naturally amongst the ordinary world and routines we live in, Kerr said.
Meanwhile, abstract images interrupt the clips of everyday life. Every couple minutes, miniaturized versions of the artists crawl on carpets and into over-sized underwear. Those images, Kerr says, depict the difficulty of achieving the queer world the artists envision.
The feelings of smallness continues throughout the exhibition. Over-sized versions of dolls, books, yarn and a pink highlighter surround viewers to remind them of the difficulty of integrating a queer world into the existing world.
“[The play with scale] implies that they’ve been miniaturized. That speaks to the enormity of this task of getting at this queer future from such a smallness,” said Kerr.
The exhibition runs until August 9.
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