Home/Making: Remixing the everyday
For Doors Open Ottawa 2019, the Canada Council Art Bank will feature a thematic display of artworks titled Home/Making. These artworks will explore representations of the home as a creative space, and domestic labour as creative labour. Instead of using traditional art materials, many of these artworks use familiar objects from around the home, remixing and reappropriating them in new and surprising ways. By finding unexpected, creative uses for household materials, the artists are able to ask questions about the world around us, helping us see our day-to-day lives in a new light. See some of our favorite examples below.
Millie Chen, Well-Being (1994), installation: cast iron casseroles.
This sculptural installation uses salt, oil and iron oxide to etch anatomical images onto cast iron cookware. In doing this, Chen highlights the knowledge of science and biology that is involved in cooking, knowledge that often goes unseen despite the universality of food preparation in the home.
Janice Flood Turner, Flatwork #10, #11, #12 (1978), nylon panty-hose over illustration board.
These works on paper by Janice Flood Turner deceive the eye: even though they look like drawings of torsos and legs from a distance, up close it becomes clear that these ‘drawings’ are actually pantyhose mounted on boards. In this unexpected way, the artist highlights the way our bodies shape and are shaped by their clothing, and the creative potential in the materials we see, use and wear.
Shié Kasai, Detail of Survival Japanese Cooking (2008), colour photograph.
In this series of colour photographs, Shié Kasai creates a fusion of Canadian and Japanese cuisine: a donut made of rice in a Tim Horton’s box, hot dogs wrapped like sushi, nigiri using fresh blueberries instead of fish, and more. This colourful, hybrid cuisine asks us to rethink our assumptions about cultural authenticity and exchange: How do we adapt different forms of cultural expression as we travel, and how do we find ways of making new places feel like home?
Maskull Lasserre, Industrial Fairytale (2006), tools, mixed media.
These artistically altered hand tools bring to mind Marcel Duchamp’s ‘readymades’: artworks made from ordinary objects that have been subtly changed to reduce or change their function, or turned into something new entirely. This installation asks the viewer to consider what makes something art and what makes it a tool. Can it be both?
Ruth Scheuing, Metamorphoses VIII (Swallow) from series: Anatomy of a Suit / Geometry of the Body (1993), wool suit.
By taking a wool suit apart to reveal the two-dimensional forms that make it up, Ruth Scheuing shows the math, geometry and knowledge of anatomy that sewing requires. It can also be seen as an abstract portrait, since the forms wrap around to an individual’s unique dimensions.
Amanda Schoppel, Teddy Bear (2003), rubber bands.
Instead of soft fleece and cotton, Amanda Schoppel’s Teddy Bear is made of rough elastic bands wound together, so that it both invites and repels touch.
Karen Tam, The Siege of Jingxin Pharmaceutical (After Rotterdam) (2005), rice bag, embroidery floss.
Referencing a protest by Chinese farmers against Jingxin Pharmaceutical Company’s harmful environmental practices, forcing it to close, Karen Tam’s embroidered rice bag draws attention to the global implications of the food we eat on a regular basis.
About the author: Pansee Atta
Pansee Atta is an Ottawa-based artist, researcher and curator. Her work focuses on racialized and colonized communities’ self-representation in cultural institutions and the role of art and artifacts in grassroots struggles. She is completing a PhD in Cultural Mediations and a diploma in Curatorial Studies at Carleton University, on the unceded territory of the Algonquin nation. Pansee was invited to guest curate the Art Bank’s 2019 Doors Open Ottawa thematic display as a practicum placement towards her Curatorial Studies diploma.