Founded in 2015 by artist and writer Christine Redfern, ELLEPHANT represents only Canadian, Quebec & Aboriginal artists with established careers in contemporary art.
ELLEPHANT has a preference for work that incorporates new media, is socially aware, and involves a strong performative angle. ELLEPHANT’s booth #A43 showcases work by eight Quebec-based artists, who push these three fundamental areas of artistic exploration to sublime, captivating and at times, humorous heights.
- For the first time, visitors to Art Toronto will be able to view SKAWENNATI’s machinimagraphs. Skawennati coined the term machinimagraph for her hi-resolution inkjet prints captured during the making of her renowned machinimas: TimeTraveller™ (2008-2013) and the just completed She Falls for Ages (2016). Her new print Becoming Sky Woman from She Falls for Ages will be presented at Art Toronto, alongside iconic images from TimeTraveller™.
Skawennati’s first machinima project TimeTraveller™ (http://www.timetravellertm.com/), is a science-fiction story of a Mohawk man who lives in the year 2121. He uses the technology of his time to visit important historical events. One of the aims of this project is to bring to life an unbroken time line of Aboriginal history that begins before European contact and ends far in the future, while depicting Aboriginal people as thinking, feeling, reasoning people the whole time. She Fell For Ages lengthens the time line, going all the way back to ‘the beginning’.
She Falls For Ages is a science-fiction retelling of the Iroquois creation story. The story starts in Sky World, a place in the heavens or perhaps another planet, where an amazing tree grows that produces many kinds of fruit. The people of Sky World love this tree, and daily enjoy its varied treats. There was just one rule: don’t touch the roots. One day, a pregnant woman tried to take some of the roots and, in so doing, created a hole through which she fell to Earth, thus beginning the human race.
Widely presented across North America in major exhibitions such as “Now? Now!” at the Biennale of the Americas; and “Looking Forward (L’Avenir)” at the Montreal Biennale. Skawennati’s work is in public and private collections, incl. Global Affairs Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Eiteljorg Museum, USA and Dr. Sara Diamond’s Collection. (VIP Tour Art Toronto 2016)
- karen elaine spencer’s performances have names like expect nothing, loiterin’, ramblin’ man, metro rider, sittin’ and dream listener. While physically occupying places and observing her surroundings, spencer considers the social, economic and political undercurrents of our culture. While doing her public actions, she felt a growing urgency to express herself with the written word. Her performances continued to include her gaze outwards, but text became part of the process, a way to attract the viewer’s eye towards her or towards a place. Ever since the dream listener series in 2007, writing has become an integral component in almost all of her subsequent work. (https://likewritingwithwater.wordpress.com/)
Over time spencer developed a unique text-based visual language that can also look, at first glance, like a work of abstract art. spencer’s geometric writing style and her play between the positive and negative space of each letter of the alphabet requires some time for the reader to unravel. These beautiful, painted messages, like her actions, force us to slow down and look closely and patiently to decipher the underlying meaning of what is right before our eyes. The works exhibited at Art Toronto are from her series letters home and headlines. (FYI: karen uses all lowercase letters in the spelling of her name and the titles of her work.)
In 2016, spencer was one of five finalists for the Prix en Art Actual presented by Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, a unique biannual prize celebrating mid-career contemporary artists. There is also a chapter devoted to her practice, written by ELLEPHANT curator/director Christine Redfern, in the just released More Caught in the Act: an anthology of performance art by Canadian women, edited by Johanna Householder and Tanya Mars, published by YYZ Press, 2016.
ELENA WILLIS (http://www.elenawillis.com/) has a unique photographic style characterized by staged scenes unfolding within landscapes that are clearly impacted by human activity. Real and unreal, pollution and beauty, meditative and unsettling, Willis seeks to create constant opposition within her images to reflect the symbiotic relationship between the environment, humanity and technology. Eschewing Photoshop and other digital interventions, each image is created on location using fabricated props based on her designs. Untitled 1 is set in the belly of an abandoned mining pit. The boat is inspired by ice cream. Linking these two vastly different human activities, Willis incorporates the breadth and complexity of human behaviour to probe our zeitgeist in regards to the Earth. By creating each scene in its entirety in front of the camera, Willis’ images have a power that stems from their illusion of truth.
CATHERINE BÉCHARD | SABIN HUDON (http://bechardhudon.com/) have been an artistic duo since 1999, best known for their sculptural installations that explore sound, space, movement and silence. For Art Toronto they have made a new kinetic sculpture, part of a series that started with their installation Daily Waverings II, exhibited at ELLEPHANT last spring as part of the International Digital Arts Biennal. Their projects have been presented in solo and group exhibitions in many cities across Canada, as well as the Czech Republic, Brazil, United States, Germany, Croatia and China.
JEAN-PIERRE GAUTHIER (https://sites.google.com/site/jpgauthiermachines/english) has a hybrid practice that incorporates visual and audio arts. His artwork Orchestre à géométrie variable is currently on view at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. At Edition TO, ELLEPHANT presents an original publication consisting of seven sculptures by Gauthier containing a USB with video, documentation and sound from this exhibition. At Art Toronto, we present three of his interactive sculptures and one sound piece, The Birds. He was the winner of the Sobey Art Award in 2004, the recipient of the Victor Martyn Lynch-Stauton Award in 2006 and the Louis-Comtois Award 2012.
PHILOMÈNE LONGPRÉ (http://philox.net/) is an artist whose practice encompasses robotic art, interactive narratives and performance. Since 1999, she has developed fifteen responsive art systems that translate body language, while exploring the interaction between the physical and virtual worlds. Each installation juxtaposes a video membrane, with virtual characters, robotic sculptures, abstract sounds, and digital interfaces, to enhance the sensory experience for the viewer. Longpré’s systems have been exhibited at numerous international events, including: EXIT and VIA, France; The International Digital Arts Biennial and Elektra, Canada; Looptopia and Collider, United States; FILE, Brazil; BUDI, South Korea; New Media Art Festival, Thailand and Festival Di Cupramontana, Italy. ELLEPHANT’s first monograph TRANSCENDARE: The Responsive Art Systems of Philomène Longpré launches at Art Toronto/ Edition TO. This 265-page publication includes five essays by international art writers. At Art Toronto, Longpré will also be presenting her new photographic print Dust Flight, captured during the video performance for her system Cereus, Queen of the Night.
SABRINA RATTÉ (http://sabrinaratte.com/) is screening the loop Immeuble-Villas III and Immeuble-Villas V. Ratté’s video practice investigates the creation of virtual environments generated by analog technologies. Electricity, as raw material, is sculpted, transformed and altered digitally to be reborn as luminous and vibrating architectures.
ELIZA GRIFFITHS’ (http://www.elizagriffiths.com) work revolves around an ongoing exploration of psychological, interpersonal, and sociological concerns using a cast of invented characters in painting, drawing, and installation. Interested in issues of gender, sexuality, subjectivity, and perception, Griffiths’ figurative visual fictions are like Frankensteinian distillations of thought, feelings, and non-verbal communication, performing ambiguous, open-ended narratives through both representational and abstract forms. Griffiths has a solo exhibition upcoming at ELLEPHANT, 1201 rue St-Dominique, Montréal, Québec from November 5 to December 17, 2016.