a shape to your shadow

The meticulous acquisition of objects, the recasting of belongings across time and localities, and the premeditated display of artifacts are all common museum practices—they also comprise some of the impulses guiding Celia Perrin Sidarous’ work. Both entities orchestrate the production of exhibitions, and reference complex histories through mise en scène. Idiosyncratically, each employ strategies to confront the ways in which objects may be interpreted by viewers; but while the museum methodically prescribes viewing conditions, the artist intentionally confounds them, yet solicitously offers clues.

Drawing from these affinities and an array of other associations, Montreal-based Perrin Sidarous was invited to create a site-specific installation at Campbell House Museum—a rare remaining example of Georgian architecture in Toronto, built in 1822 using classical Greek and Roman style, symmetry, and proportion. Originally located on a plot of land nearby, Campbell House was moved to its current site to prevent the building’s impending destruction. Positioned within a contemporary environment, this historic house acts as a stage for the artistic practice of Perrin Sidarous, likewise transiently relocated.

Notions around shifts and change reverberate throughout the exhibition a shape to your shadow, as the artist’s spatial interventions unfold in a series of constellations across the museum. In these new and recent works, many of which are informed by visits to archaeological sites in Greece, Perrin Sidarous conceives sculptural compositions within a scene, elegantly formed to reflect the effects of light on their surfaces. Narratively suggestive yet deliberately enigmatic, her still life assemblages—comprised of vessels, shells, sea fan corals (Alcyonacea) and various floral, vegetal, and mineral forms—are carefully arranged in her studio, exclusively for the camera’s gaze. Within the setting of a historic house museum, the resulting pictorial representations offer many layers of meaning that remain open to interpretation.

The positioning of disparate yet familiar elements throughout the house creates a simultaneous presence and absence. In the hallway cabinet and period rooms on the main floor, Perrin Sidarous has removed or rearranged historical objects and furniture to create space for establishing new relationships between the vernacular items and her contemporary art pieces. Occupying the customary locations of antique prints and portraits on the walls, her images reflect an ongoing interest in the physical presence of inanimate objects and their metamorphosis through photography. In the blue room, upstairs—the one space in the museum used for rotating exhibitions—casts of the artist’s arms, reminiscent of a fragmented classical statue, physically mark her presence in the space. While singular works are freestanding in sculptural frames, the 19th-century mantelpiece supports multiple, overlaid images. The ceramic objects displayed in the photographs evoke minimalist compositions and modernist abstractions, and the marble elements depicted are sumptuously ageless. Undulating across time and place, two and three dimensions, hard and soft materials, colour and black-and-white, Perrin Sidarous’ works summon a multitude of internal and cultural histories.

Organized by CONTACT in partnership with Campbell House Museum