Developed for the second iteration of the Fleck Clerestory Commission Program in a space characterized by its openness in all directions — to the sky, the waterfront and the surrounding galleries — Latifa Echakhch’s work Cross Fade confronts viewers with a sky that is literally falling. Fragments of Echakhch’s wall painting of the sky still exist intact but out of reach on the upper Fleck Clerestory walls, though large parts of the sky lie on the ground, in ruin. The technique used in the installation references the classical fresco, a second skin that usually leads viewers into another painted world. Here, however, Echakhch shatters this illusion, rooting viewers in the present which, like a cross fade, is caught between the past and the future.
The sky has previously appeared in Echakhch’s work La depossession (2014). Printed across a collapsing theatre canvas and suspended from the ceiling, the sky in La depossession is used as a motif to deconstruct the spectacle and intrigue of the theatre. For her installation at The Power Plant, Echakhch gives the sky material form. Rendered in cement and applied to the walls, it is no longer just a motif but also an object, capable of being destroyed. Here, an element we usually associate with permanence loses its stability, taking on a state of a ruin that underscores the uncertainty of the present and speaks to the loss of a common space. Echakhch’s work navigates poetics and politics as well as transcendental and actual space, referencing historical and social issues by pointing to the material’s original function and symbolic meaning. Having exhibited extensively in museums and exhibitions worldwide, Cross Fade is the first presentation of Echakhch’s work in Canada.