Group Exhibition What is Left

Paul Petro Contemporary Art ⁠ accessible_forward
980 Queen St W
May 13–Jun 11
  • Stephen Andrews
  • Sophie Calle
  • Wendy Coburn
  • Marlene Creates
  • Jeanne Randolph
  • Mélanie Rocan
  • Natalie Wood
    Wendy Coburn, Jeans, [undated]. Courtesy of the artist and Paul Petro Contemporary Art

This group exhibition explores the intersection of memory and loss in the aftermath of change, inspired in part by the exhibition Fable For Tomorrow at Onsite Gallery, a survey of works by the late Toronto-based artist, activist, and educator Wendy Coburn (1963–2015).

Coburn’s photographs and sculpture, which embrace the changing nature of relationships, are made all the more poignant with her passing. Building upon themes in Coburn’s work, this exhibition explores the presence of absence and the intertwining of memory and felt experience. It features photographs by Stephen Andrews; works from Sophie Calle’s photographic series The Graves; seminal images from the series Sleeping Places by Marlene Creates; sculpture by FASTWÜRMS; images from Jeanne Randolph’s series Parking Lot Pandemic—an ode to Winnipeg depicting photographs of empty parking lots during a COVID lockdown; paintings by Mélanie Rocan; and photo-constructions by Natalie Wood, which echo the Middle Passage and the intercontinental voyages of enslaved Africans. 

The title of the exhibition, What is Left, lifts the veil on what remains when life recedes, dreams fail, and pandemics strike. And, much like on a beach newly exposed during low tide, marvels can be revealed and regeneration become possible.

Presented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art

Stephen Andrews was born in 1956 in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. His work deals with memory, identity, technology, and their representations in various media including photography, drawing, animation, painting, and ceramics. Over the last twenty five years he has exhibited his work across Canada, the US, Brazil, Scotland, France, Italy, and Japan, including POV, a fifteen-year survey at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2015). He is represented in collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, and the Schwartz Collection, Harvard, among many others. Andrews is a recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2019).

Sophie Calle (b. 9 October 1953) is a French writer, photographer, installation artist, and conceptual artist. Calle’s work is distinguished by its use of arbitrary sets of constraints, and evokes the French literary movement of the 1960s known as Oulipo. Her work frequently depicts human vulnerability, and examines identity and intimacy. She is recognized for her detective-like ability to follow strangers and investigate their private lives. In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for her publication My All (Actes Sud, 2016). In 2019 she was the recipient of the Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship.

Wendy Coburn (1964–2015) was a Toronto-based artist and art educator whose studio practice included photography, sculpture, installation and video. Her multi-disciplinary work engages concerns such as human relations to land and ecologies, power relations and the construction of differences, popular culture, mental health, gender, whiteness, nationhood, and the role of images in mediating cultural difference. Her work has been exhibited and screened in galleries and festivals internationally. At OCAD University, Coburn developed the groundbreaking course “Making Gender: LBGTQ Studio” which seeks to foster greater awareness and understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer cultures and subcultures.

Marlene Creates lives and works in Portugal Cove, Newfoundland & Labrador. For almost 40 years her work has been an exploration of the relationship between human experience and the land, and the impact they have on each other. Since 2002 her principal artistic venture has been to closely observe and work with the 6 acres of boreal forest where she lives. Since the mid-1970s, her work has been presented in over 350 solo and Group exhibitions and screenings across Canada (including several nationally touring solo exhibitions) and in Austria, China, Denmark, England, France, India, Ireland, Korea, Scotland, and USA. She was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2001.

FASTWÜRMS (formed 1979) is the cultural project, trademark, and joint authorship of Kim Kozzi and Dai Skuse. FASTWÜRMS artwork is characterized by a poly-disciplinary DIY sensibility, Queer and Witch positivity identity politics, and a keen allegiance towards feminist, working class, and artist collaborations. Guided by the ethos of ecology and the praxis of Witchcraft, FASTWÜRMS has extensive experience making public art, installation art, social making and performance art, landscape and earth art, vernacular and artist architecture, ceramics, ecology, geology, and enminded living systems.

Jeanne Randolph is one of Canada’s foremost cultural theorists. She is the author of the influential book Psychoanalysis & Synchronized Swimming (1991) as well as Symbolization and Its Discontents (1997), Why Stoics Box (2003), Ethics of Luxury (2007), Shopping Cart Pantheism (2015) and My Claustrophobic Happiness (2020). Dr. Randolph is also known for her curation and as an engaging lecturer, performance artist, and musician. In universities and galleries across Canada, England, Australia, and Spain, she has spoken on topics ranging from the aesthetics of Barbie to the philosophy of Wittgenstein.

Mélanie Rocan (b. 1980, La Broquerie, MB) is a Franco-Manitoban artist. She has a BFA from the University of Manitoba (2003) and an MFA from the University of Concordia in Montreal (2008). Rocan is a three-time semi-finalist in the RBC Painting Competition. In 2012–13 her work was the subject of a survey exhibition, Souvenir involuntaire, organized by the Doris McCarthy Gallery, which then toured to the Kenderdine Art Gallery (Saskatoon, SK) and Plug-In ICA (Winnipeg, MB). Rocan is the recipient of awards and grants from the Canada Council, Manitoba and Winnipeg Arts Council. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions and collections across Canada.

Natalie Wood, born and raised in Trinidad, arrived in Toronto in 1984 to study psychology, sociology, and women’s studies at the University of Toronto before undertaking studio training at the Ontario College of Art. Wood completed an MA in Art Education at OISE, University of Toronto, in 2000. Wood’s work cohabits the areas of popular culture, education, and historical research, spanning the visual and media arts, in a practice including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, video and performance, and extending into Wood’s work as a curator, educator, and community-based queer activist. Wood is currently a tenured Professor in the Social Service Work Program at George Brown College.