Amanda Arcuri, Ryan Van Der Hout Fire and Dust

United Contemporary ⁠ accessible_forward
1444 Dupont St, Unit 22

What happens to the artifacts of the civilized world when they no longer serve a purpose? Are they burned to the ground or left to collect dust? The year 2020 was simultaneously a period of great upheaval and of unprecedented stagnation for the billions of people who call earth home. At a time when personal isolation was being championed as a civic duty, outdated monuments to oppression were simultaneously being toppled through a collective uprising. Fire and Dust is a collaborative exhibition of recent works by Toronto-based artists Amanda Arcuri and Ryan Van Der Hout, bringing together each artist’s unique yet complementary interpretation of destruction as a form of creation.

Documented in her surreally vivid photographic works, Arcuri ritualistically burns discarded and expired floral arrangements, using the flame and the act of burning as metaphors for change and upheaval. Van Der Hout’s somber black-and-white photographs depict traditional subjects of natures morte—fruit, books, insects—covered in layers of dust and decay, conveying the accumulation of time and the results of neglect.

Through their allegorical takes on the classical still-life, the artists breathe life and death into seemingly incompatible human experiences. Juxtaposing Van Der Hout’s intensely monochromatic images with Arcuri’s seductively colourful scenes, Fire and Dust generates a dynamic opposition, asking viewers to contemplate the ways in which they experience change and time.

Curated by Burke Paterson

Ryan Van Der Hout

Toronto-based artist Ryan Van Der Hout’s work has been widely featured in publications including The Huffington PostVogue Italia, CBC, and Reader’s Digest. He has exhibited across Canada, the United Kingdom, and New York, and most notably in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Collectors Series; as part of a Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival Featured Exhibition; and in The Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward festival. Van Der Hout has created public art for the Toronto Archives, The TTC, Nuit Blanche, and Pemberton Developments; was awarded the Emerging Artist Award by the Robert McLaughlin Gallery; and has been supported by the Ontario Arts Council. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from Ryerson University.