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a soft landing | Toronto

Catch this exquisitely slow collection for Images Festival

July 9, Gallery TPW


a soft landing

Watching Eve Tagny's video triptych at the entrance of Gallery TPW, it takes a minute to decide where the eyes will rest to catch the three wide screens in their totality. This is before you realize it's infinitely variable, and that kind of passive rest is impossible. From June 29 to August 6, Curator Jaclyn Quaresma presents Tagny, and four other "so-called Canadian artists," for a soft landing as part of the 35th Images Festival, hosted by Gallery TPW in partnership with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. In keeping with the festival's ‘Slow Edition’ this year, Quaresma has assembled works that explore a reparative and reckoning kind of slowness.

a soft landing

When I check the durations for English Rose, Body Landscapes, and Labouring bodies (eulogy for the soil), I can see that their separate durations, 15:19, 17:15, and 26:30 minutes respectively means the same constellations of moments will never recur. Three wide screens, spaced a body's width apart in the little half-hallway in front of the gallery's counter, require a decision on which video gets your full attention while the other two play at a canted peripheral.

a soft landing

Each video approaches an angle on the production of roses: as a material result of physical, often exploited, industrialized labour; as a mannered emblem of the pastoral ideal; and as a subject for artistic works. The first two share a quartet of dancers: Labouring bodies has them performing pantomime motions of horticultural workers; Body Landscapes depicts scenes of placid frolic as they make mannered statuary poses and contemplate the smelling of flowers. English Rose features Tagny working alone, preparing for a portrait in her studio by cycling through still lifes, balancing her body over every object of the composition, as if to weigh it. It makes sense that I can't take every video at once; it depicts a system contingent on alienation.

a soft landing

Quaresma gathers a consistently robust conception of slowness throughout the show. Slowness is sold nowadays as the alternative to work, which at the same time makes work possible, like a temporal calorie. Erika DeFreitas' The responsibility of the response (in conversation with Agnes Martin), is 31 squares, a month of pen drawings in the style of Martin, Saskatchewan's abstract expressionist. Each square has immaculate corners, but the horizontal lines contort in the strain of making them. You get used to a rhythm of lines, and then it changes, widening or tightening, turning more in a corner to catch your eye. It creates a lovely conversation with Alyssa Alikpala's In between; another grid piece pasting foraged local grasses into the corner of the wall.

Throughout TPW, you can hear Rihab Essayh's (الشوق لجوقة العصافير عند الغسق) Longing for a choir of sparrows at dusk and Alize Zorlutuna, Practice Softening. Essayh's bird songs complement the beautifully hand-dyed tent we're invited to sit in. Through its canopy, the high ceilings are stained. Similarly spiritual, Zorlutuna's projection high overhead archives ephemeral moments in nature in her phone's narrow aperture. Like a stained-glass window, gazing up takes you from your body, turning its rhythm to the wider world.

a soft landing runs till August 6th at Gallery TPW.

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