Fiona Freemark Sunset Watch
In this exhibition of works by Toronto-based artist Fiona Freemark, motifs of sunsets, poppies, chain-link fence, and shadows on pavement repeat throughout, products of the artist’s daily walks around her Scarborough neighbourhood. Through analogue interventions—cutting into and weaving together her original photographs—Freemark translates both the aesthetics of the city and the sensations of interacting with the world in equally mundane and profound ways.
Freemark’s practice is a study in oppositions, a push-pull between the desire for permanence via documentation and the constantly shifting and ephemeral quality of life. Using printmaking and techniques such as paper-cutting and weaving, the artist pushes the photograph into the realm of sculpture. The works resist easy classification, challenging the viewer’s perception of photography while drawing attention to the often-overlooked everyday details of a residential neighbourhood, inviting viewers to look both at and into the photographs.
Through the processes of cutting and weaving, Freemark makes homage to photographic techniques and effects that mimic the mechanisms of seeing—namely, the double exposure in analogue photography and the pixelation of digital photography. The layered nature of the photographs becomes a visual representation of the speed of looking at images in the contemporary world (in other words, “seeing double”). For example, in Fall Shoreline (2022), the wind moves a fern, its twin leaf a “shadow” created by the negative space of a cut-out. In May Tulips (2022), the viewer encounters a flower bed seen through a cut-out, inverse chain-link fence, the overall effect slightly disjointed, as is the hand-crafted artwork itself. The alarming speed of a sunset is captured in Clouds/May No. 1 (2022): weaving together two images shot at different moments, the scene appears simultaneously light and dark, emulating the qualities of a digital/pixelated image or its glitches—an apt metaphor for the physical manipulations employed within the work.
The dichotomy of light and shadow, and in turn, negative and positive space, are constantly at play in Freemark’s works. The paper itself becomes a conduit for shadows, mirroring the content of the photographs and emphasizing their physicality. “The medium is the message,” Marshall McLuhan’s famous phrase, feels pertinent to Sunset Watch. In her photographs, Freemark translates the tactile movement of walking through a neighbourhood, creating an archive of a place, of a season, of nature. Buildings long demolished, the scent of a flower mixed with rain, a quickly shifting shadow—Freemark turns her camera lens, and then her craft knife, to these subtle moments, to chronicle life as it’s lived.
Essay by Tatum Dooley
Curated by Dianna Witte
Presented by Dianna Witte Gallery. Supported by the Ontario Arts Council
Fiona Freemark is a photo-based artist living and working in Scarborough, Ontario. Freemark graduated with a BA Honours in Studio Art from McMaster University in 2012, and work has been included in the Snap! Live Auction and Art with Heart for Casey House. In 2018 she was selected to participate in the Doris McCarthy Artist-in-Residence program at Fool’s Paradise, supported by the Ontario Heritage Trust. She received an Exhibition Assistance grant from the Ontario Arts Council in 2021. Her work is held in the RBC Collection and the corporate collection of Timbercreek.