The Sixty Fourth Parallel
Five Girlfriends Fill The VAV With Souvenirs
How do you remember summer? How do you access memories that are vivid yet distant in your mind? How do you position yourself in the present moment, with so many moments behind you?
These are some questions that five girlfriends have been asking themselves. Their answers will be presented as handmade, visual souvenirs in the VAV gallery this week.
The vernissage, called Sixty Fourth Parallel, is named after their experiences up North. Four of the artists—Amy Ball, Katerina Lagasse, Anna Edell and Brianna Oversby—spent the summer in a cabin nestled next to the Klondike River just outside of Dawson City in the Yukon, while Stephanie Bokenfohr spent a month in Iceland to reconnect with her ancestral roots.
The exhibition is a multimedia show that will lead the viewer through questions of space, identity, movement, history, language, meaning and friendship.
Bokenfohr’s installation includes a sculpture of authentic Icelandic rock, basalt and crystal, suspended in a solar system. She hopes that people feel free to interact with the piece.
Bokenfohr has also constructed a glass pyramid covered in pressed flowers she collected.
“I wanted to preserve them,” she said, storing the blossoms in her journal and bringing them home to make something that is all about elements and the clash of materials.
For Bokenfohr, the materials are central to her message.
“You have to consider the combination of the materials I’m using more so than the concept,” said Bokenfohr.
When asked about the similarity between her and other artists, she explained that both Iceland and Dawson City are associated with isolation.
“But I don’t like the word isolation,” she said. “I prefer the word solitude. Solitude is what they both offer.”
Edell sees structural similarities in all the art, while Lagasse believes that “all the pieces are vessels for memories.
“Wherever you go when you move into different spaces, you try and remember the space and recreate a structure that encapsulates it. I think everyone [here] has done that in their own way,” Lagasse said.
“The experience [of being up North] and the memory of being there—that’s what the show is,” added Edell.
All of the work was created in Montreal on their return home. Oversby’s piece is a bit unique in that her sculpture is a mini-model of an actual tree fort she built in the shape of a boat.
“You only have access to memories and you have to try and make it tangible here,” said Lagasse, who, for one of her pieces, has constructed a swing for the viewer to sit on while they watch footage she shot on three different cameras.
“The footage enables me to remember the space in a different way than how I originally experienced it,” said Lagasse.
As for Ball, her drawings were inspired by a trip to the archives in Dawson City.
“I started thinking about all the people [who] came up from the gold rush. It’s a crazy adventure. That kind of adventure doesn’t exist anymore,” she said.
“The history of all these explorers, because it was on such a large scale, has almost been forgotten. Individually, these people are unknown,” she said. “You don’t have to know individual histories because everyone’s was the same.”
As for these girls, their summer histories have been sensitively captured in Sixty Fourth Parallel. These histories will be offered to the spectactor as a sort of time capsule of shared and individual memories.
Sixty Fourth Parallel’s vernissage is happening Tuesday, Sept. 21 from 7-9 p.m. The exhibition will remain in the VAV Gallery (1395 René Lévesque Blvd. W.) until Sept. 24. The gallery is open Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 06, published September 21, 2010.