Toronto artist Suzy Lake has been exploring issues
relating to the body, gender and identity since
the 1970s. Throughout her prolific career working
with video, performance and photography, she has
consistently used herself as a model to transform
into characters, like Miss Chatelaine, a Spice
Girl or Dirk Bogarde, that examine representations
of femininity, desirability and ageing.
In Rhythm of a True Space, a site-specific
installation created for the Art Gallery of
Ontario in collaboration with CONTACT, Lake
revisits a 1997 photographic concept in response
to the museum’s transformation, now in its last
months of construction.
Lake’s “sweeping figures” evoke Cinderella, a
fairytale character whose story has long been
embedded in our collective memory. Absorbed in
their task, these figures transcend mere
servitude. Their larger-than-life scale recalls
the caryatids of ancient architecture, while the
strength of their determined gestures suggests the
preparation of something new. Discontinuous bands
of green wall reverberate between the figures to
create a dynamic rhythm. Not only does the simple
act of sweeping come alive, in this way, it
becomes generic and metaphorical, linking private
public work. Sweeping no longer simply stands in
as a routine
chore; it augurs a new moment.
Rhythm of a True Space transforms the AGO’s
static construction hoarding into a space of
activity and creativity, at once personal and
public, one that heralds momentum and anticipates
the realization of a true space.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Suzy Lake immigrated to
Montreal in 1968 after the Detroit race riots.
There, as a socially and politically active
artist, she became a founding member of Véhicule
Art, a pioneering artist-run gallery. Since 1978,
Lake has been teaching in the Studio Art program
at the University of Guelph. She has exhibited her
work nationally and internationally, most recently
in the landmark exhibition WACK! Art and the
Feminist Revolution at P.S.1 Contemporary Art
Center in New York. She lives and works in
Toronto and is represented by Paul Petro
Contemporary Art, Toronto.
Presented in partnership with the Art Gallery of
Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein & Sophie Hackett