Kevin Schmidt

9 September–7 Octo­ber 2006

Kevin Schmidt

Kevin Schmidt’s pho­tographs and projected-video instal­la­tions fre­quently amplify the human expe­ri­ence of nature as an encounter that is imbued with cul­tural codes but which at times expands beyond our flu­ency. In his past time-based works such as Long Beach Led Zep (2002), Fog (2004) and Burn­ing Bush (2005), Schmidt cues the viewer towards a par­tic­u­lar trope of land­scape while grad­u­ally cast­ing the scene with an obvi­ously fab­ri­cated approx­i­ma­tion of the sub­lime. His works very often present an occa­sion for indi­vid­ual feel­ing and med­i­ta­tion, and per­haps offer a means to explore the per­cep­tual con­di­tions at play when real­ity trans­forms into some­thing beyond words.

For his first solo exhi­bi­tion at Catri­ona Jef­fries, the artist brought together three pho­tographs and a pro­jec­tion instal­la­tion. The first work in the show, Sad Wolf, con­sists of a large, do-it-yourself LCD pro­jec­tor that the artist built inside a wooden box which adjoins the dark­ened pro­jec­tion room. Inside the space, a looped, six-minute dig­i­tal video por­trays an omega wolf liv­ing on the periph­ery of a cap­tive pack in the Metro Toronto Zoo. Inter­ceded indis­tinctly by the wire grid of the enclo­sure, the footage fol­lows the wolf’s move­ments and at the same time clearly dis­closes the shuf­fling, mov­ing, breath­ing pres­ence of his doc­u­men­tar­ian. In con­trast to the roman­tic sym­bol of the lone wolf which com­monly rep­re­sents soli­tude and rad­i­cal free-spiritedness, the con­di­tion of the omega wolf sig­ni­fies the nadir of pack soci­ety: the under­dog and scape­goat of the pack. While actively dis­clos­ing the medi­a­tion of the artist, Sad Wolf posi­tions the viewer between a col­lec­tively des­ig­nated vic­tim and the larger struc­ture of con­tem­po­rary art.

To pro­duce each of his three pho­tographs, enti­tled Face Lake, John­son Lake, and Lit­tle Blue Lake, Schmidt hiked into the for­est on sev­eral occa­sions. For each work, he located a prospec­tive view inter­posed by a lone tree, which then became marked as a remote look­out post on the land­scape through its trans­for­ma­tion into a trompe-l’oeil pic­to­r­ial prop. A plaster-like sub­stance was applied to the bark of the tree to pro­duce a smooth sur­face onto which was painted an image of the scene behind. This dual frame of rep­re­sen­ta­tion both enacts and doc­u­ments the dis­tance between artist’s stand­point and the dou­bled view of the land­scape that meets the viewer in the gallery.

CJ Press essay: Musi­cal chairs in the realms of the real by Jessie Caryl

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion or press enquires please con­tact Catri­ona Jef­fries or Anne Low at +1 604 736 1554.