COOPER COLE is pleased to announce a solo exhibition from gallery artist Georgia Dickie titled Stivverin’.
This exhibition will debut a new body of the artist’s sculptural works and feature an accompanying essay written by Lucas Soi.
Not all banalities are totally dada, but every banality hides a load of dadaistic nonsense.
– Kurt Schwitters
Early incarnations of the Internet relied upon the user’s anonymity when connecting to the virtual public. Cyberspace was an environment where the user could be who they wanted to be, rather than who they actually were. Activity was conducted in stealth, through chat rooms and instant messages. With a simple setting all browser history could be erased, leaving no trail of the sites visited and people talked to. Yet in the 21st century, Web 2.0 relies upon users creating a permanent record of their activity by uploading evidence from their everyday lives in real time. Thanks to user-generated content, social networking sites help compile this information together to identify and define people through their own efforts and actions.
The German critic Boris Groys has observed that “social networks like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Second Life, and Twitter… offer global populations the opportunity to post their photos, videos, and texts in a way that cannot be distinguished from any other conceptualist or post-conceptualist artwork.”1 This “accidental audience,” according to American critic Brad Troemel, has embraced the virtual tools of production and elaborated on this process of pastiche, “without any particular awareness that they are engaging with ‘art’ at all.” 2 In the same way that people gather experience and knowledge during their lifetime, so do objects. In the material world, every object accrues a bounty of information that it holds intrinsically through time. The inherent history contained in the most banal fabricated materials accumulates the longer it is used and valued. The popular saying “if these walls could talk” is a fitting anecdote to define the historical properties of our built environment.
Georgia Dickie is part of a generation of artists who came of age with ready access to the digital resources of the Internet but rebelled against them, embracing the hand-tooled aesthetic of physical materials in a decided effort to reclaim the possibilities of definition through the limitations of the real. Working with an endless array of found objects, Dickie’s sculptural assemblages seek to map a new history through the conflation of their parts, re-examining their inherent properties to identify new orders of knowledge and information. She uses collage and its essence of abstraction as a way to establish anonymity on behalf of the materials by creating new roles for them.
In Stivverin’, Georgia Dickie’s first solo exhibition at Cooper Cole, the resulting three-dimensional collages are displayed together along a 25 ft. long plinth that runs through the middle of the gallery. As a portrait of time, it recalls the recent monumental sculptural collage made by Vancouver-based artist Geoffrey Farmer at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany. Made from thousands of images cut from the pages of Life magazine, which documented fifty years of American history, the scissor-and-glue collage was presented on a 124 ft. table which ran the length of the corridor it was placed in.3 Writing about Farmer’s practice in 2006, former Assistant Curator of the Vancouver Art Gallery Monika Szewczyk wrote how Farmer’s work involved the making of a non-site. “As non-sites, everyday objects are placed out of context and become foils for themselves – they lead double, if not triple, lives.”4 Dickie’s works aligned together on a single platform allow the viewer to reconsider the recognizable material and historical traits apparent in certain elements of her sculptures, but the “fresh physical encounter with the most familiar everyday things has the potential to transport us the furthest afield.”5
This gesture of re-purposing familiar objects was realized with zeal by the German artist Kurt Schwitters, who in the aftermath of World War I wandered the streets of Hannover and salvaged discarded objects and wreckage from devastated areas. According to Schwitters, “only the wrong material used in the wrong way will give the right picture, when you look at it from the right angle.”6 These materials, divorced from their original meaning through the arbitrary destruction of war, were glued and nailed together by Schwitters, creating new forms which, in their re-birth, reveled in their ambiguous anonymity. The artist believed that “the more intensively the work of art destroys rational objective logic, the greater the possibilities of artistic form,” and with their new lease on life these confabulations reflected the distorted beliefs of the time. Through her networking of the material world, Georgia Dickie finds the absurd in the common, and reflects back on our collectively generated history in a way that we, in our media-saturated age, can all relate to.
– Lucas Soi
1. Groys, Boris. “The Weak Universalism.” e-flux Journal 15 (2010).
2. Troemel, Brad. “The Accidental Audience.” The New Inquiry.
3. Heather, Rosemary. “Geoffrey Farmer Discusses His Big Documenta Hit.” Canadian Art.
4. Szewczyk, Monika. “Changes In The Work Of Geoffrey Farmer.” CJ Press: Anthology of Exhibition Essays 2006 | 2007. Vancouver: Catriona Jeffries, 2008.
5. Ibid 22
6. Rothenberg, Jerome and Pierre Joris, Eds. Pppppp. Cambridge: Exact Change, 2002.
For additional information please contact the gallery: