Dual Edge and The Ken Portraits
Sep 17, 2003 - Nov 02, 2003

The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art is pleased to launch our Fall 2003 season with exquisite flamboyance, warm intimacy and poised grace!   


                    DUAL EDGE                                               THE KEN PORTRAITS

JOHANNES ZITS                                                         KELLY McCRAY


Dual Edge by Johannes Zits and The Ken Portraits by Kelly McCray are two provocative, complimentary exhibitions that honour the dignity of the human body while acknowledging its corporal fragility and shifting social identity.


Dual Edge, photo-based works produced at friend’s apartments during a 2002 residency in Berlin is the more recent of two bodies of work presented by Zits. These images, mounted on aluminum supports, initially appear to be perceptually abrasive and disorienting. Expected figure-ground relationships are disrupted by the jarring contrasts between hard-edge, painted forms and dot screen textures that hover elusively within the picture plane, weaving overtop and underneath photographs of coupled bodies and domestic interiors.

This series evolved from earlier interior scenes that are represented by two full-scale billboard-size pieces and a number of studies for them. In these, Zits has painted abstracted forms of coupled males onto digital printout images appropriated from glossy home interior and décor magazines.

While there is a tendency to see Zits work as the archetypal struggle between Classicism and Romanticism, it is also possible to appreciate these images for the sly manner in which they subvert dominant, ingrained notions of domestic decorum and behaviour.


The Ken Portraits by McCray are also photo-based works, in this case employing one of the most modern yet elementary technologies of the medium: the disposable camera.

In contrast to the work of Zits, these brooding, atmospheric portraits of McCray’s brother Ken, warmly seduce our gaze. Although they evoke both Classical and Romantic sensibilities, these portraits are not idealized or heroic in any way. There is a subtle uneasiness to these shadowy, ghost-like, almost melancholic images, accentuated in no small way by the cumbersome helmet Ken wears in some of the pictures. The fact is the helmet is necessary to protect Ken during the severe epileptic seizures he suffers, a condition that leaves him vulnerable and estranged from the outside world, forcing him to live a reclusive lifestyle.

His condition, however, is not implicit in the pictures. Never-the-less, they effectively evoke conditions of fragility familiar to all of us as we struggle to protect ourselves and attempt to maintain dignity and poise in a world fraught with darkness and uncertainty.


Please join MOCCA, in the presence of the artists, for the opening reception of these two extraordinary exhibitions on Wednesday, September 17, 2003, from 7p.m. to 10 p.m. The exhibition continues through November 2nd.


Work by Johannes Zits courtesy of S.P.I.N. Gallery, Toronto, and Pierre-François Oullette Art Contemporain, Montreal.