Four Pillars, L'INCONNUE — Montreal
"All human life is born of woman," wrote Adrienne Rich in her radical book Of Woman Born, first published in 1976. Enjoying the possibilities of unlikely spaces, L'INCONNUE is reborn with Four Pillars this spring. The exhibition, thematically organized around transformation, combines installation, sculpture, drawing and weaving into a symbolically dense presentation by Hanna Hur, Laurie Kang, Maia Ruth Lee and Zadie Xa.
What looks like a single composite sculpture in the middle of the space is in fact two separate works that function as the matrix of the show. Like a knot, Hur's copper arachnid sculpture weaves through Kang's netted wall and invokes woven webs, spells and narratives of metamorphosis. Xa's flattened fabric works, assemblages of symbols both from the artist's personal history and Korean mythology, originated with an inquiry into personal identity and culminated into a reflection on Korean shamanism. Robe-like, they share a ceremonious quality with the works that recall the objects in a shrine: Kang's cluster of lotus roots from which incense burns, and Lee's Of Women Born and Mother's Knot, iron sculptures in which bowls of rice from a Nepalese tradition can be read as an offering of abundance and fertility. In effect, each of these works asks the deeply personal, yet ultimately binding question: from where do we come?
Through the symbols conveyed and the materials used, the artists respond to mythologies of creation, reminding us of Rich's statement that all human life is born of woman. The show proves that sometimes, the most surprising and generative element is chance, not rational calculation. Twin sisters, Kang and Hur had not seen the other's work – in this instance, Hur's Nervy, 2017 and Kang's Skin on Skin, 2016, which hang side by side in the gallery – when it was revealed, upon installation, that the works matched in scale, palette and sentiment. "It felt as if they were made with each other in mind all along," says Hur. If kismet can be an organizing principle for curating, as gallerist Leila Greiche seems to suggest, then we had better anticipate a whole new realm of visual possibilities – one of the ties that bind.
Where mythology, both personal and cultural, has traditionally been the device through which people have answered the question of origins, several works in particular address the material handling of nature. Kang's compact packets of rope-bound tarp, her Baggage Bondage prototypes, play on the expression used to denote psychological baggage: the heft of our traditions, yes, but also the material commodities that we carry that shape or restrict us. The debris netting that constitutes her In Form and Ruin is also used in construction sites: places of creation, albeit on a massive industrial scale. Lee used welded scrap pieces of metal for her sculptures, scavenged from industrial zones, that, though reworked, nonetheless seem at odds with the altar-like nature of her floor pieces. As though alerting the viewer, the artists in Four Pillars prove that the question of origins is also anthropocenic.
Four Pillars runs through April 30, 2018. L'INCONNUE is a gallery presenting an international roster of emerging artists.
L'INCONNUE – 233 Boulevard Crémazie O., H2N 1L7 Montreal – linconnue.biz
Head Image Laurie Kang, Root, exhibited in Four Pillars, 2018 © Sandra La Rochelle.
Courtesy of L'INCONNUE.