Come Up to My Room 2011
The 2011 edition of Come Up to My Room represents the 8th year that the Gladstone has hosted its annual alternative design event, and it's as strong a showing as ever. Featuring the work of over 30 designers/artists and curated by Deborah Wang and Jeremy Vandermeij, this is a show that rewards a patient walk through. Not only is there a ton on offer, but the vast majority of installations come with back stories that aren't immediately apparent at first glance.
As usual, it's impossible to assign a controlling theme to CUTMR. In keeping with the original idea behind the show, the curators select the artists rather than the pieces. "Once these creative individuals and collectives have been selected, they are given a public space or one of the 11 exhibition rooms on the hotel's second floor. Curators consult and discuss public space projects with their makers, but know next to nothing about the room installations." There are two ideas behind this arrangement: 1) each is designed specifically for the show and 2) it helps to foster artistic creativity by removing as many constraints as possible.
With any group exhibition of this size, it's difficult to provide a punchy little overview of everything that's included. Inevitably one will be drawn to a few exhibits that, for him or her, stand out above the rest. Here, then, is a brief list of my highlights.
Room 214 - Dennis Lin
I've been following Lin's work for a while now, so it's fascinating to see a piece that collects together fragments of previous projects and abandoned designs. Placed on shipping crates and covered in shrink wrap, Lin tells me that his installation is something of a glimpse into his brain, which for some reason I immediately understand.
Room 209 - Bruno Billio
Rich in suggestion, Billio's installation captures the aftermath of dinner party - which he assures actually took place (i.e. was not staged) - the centrepiece of which is a spinning table that seems to represent the residual energy leftover from the night before.
Room 201 - Amanda McCarvour
Gesturing to the temporary nature of apartment living, McCarvour's room is outfitted with "furniture" crafted with thread that's so delicate it dissolves in water. Big points for connecting the temporariness of the site-specific installation with our lived experience of rooms.
Room 2012 - Rob Southcott
Inspired by the world above our heads, Southcott's room has an obvious aviation theme, but perhaps its most impressive feature is the representation of the interior of a cloud. Made up of 700 interconnected pieces that mimic ice crystals, it's an impressive collision of the complex and simple (kind of like clouds...).
Another highlight that wasn't so photo friendly but looked great in person was the mirrored-glass-encased installation found in room 202. A statement about both the ethics of voyeurism and the degree to which everything we see is a reflection of ourselves, this was one of my favourites (designed by Jana Macalik, John Peterson and Diana Watters). Similarly, though there wasn't enough light to shoot it, Lubo Brezina and Scott Eunson's wood-built shrine (room 207) is reminiscent of a decaying barn and immediately got me into a contemplative mood. Oh, and it smells fantastic too.
Check out all the projects here. Come Up to My Room runs from January 27th to Jabuary 30th at the Gladstone Hotel. Admission is $10. Additional photos below.
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