take me, I’m yours
November 14 to December 15, 2002.
Opening Reception: Thursday November 14, 7 – 10 p.m.
Laurel Woodcock: take me, I’m yours involves the viewer through sight and sound, memory, taste and touch in order to probe themes that have occupied the artist for the past decade. Such themes include the manipulative capacity of language, the occult, the relationship between technology and nature, the ominous potential of the familiar. Agnes Etherington Art Centre curator Jan Allen has worked closely with Laurel Woodcock to produce a riveting presentation of recent work that affirms the substance of her contribution to contemporary art practice.
Woodcock uses technology to both entice and challenge her audience. In five components that function as a thematic whole, take me, I’m yours examines the dynamics of desire and submission, rejection and manipulation. Ambiguous juxtapositions send the viewer’s efforts to decode key cultural references into overdrive. For example, in operetta the viewer watches the spastic dance of a dying fly while listening to computer Hal’ 9000’s rendition of the love song “Daisy” from Stanley Kubrick’s classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The incursion of entropy in both nature and technology is demonstrated with Woodcock’s signature deadpan wit and affection. Likewise, advisory warning presents jerky LCD images of an approaching tornado with horoscope “business” cards linking the anxiety-driven fatalism of astrology with cataclysmic weather systems.
The core of the exhibition is the three-part Lured. Outside the gallery space, in the reception area, the viewer encounters the show’s first and last component: Lured III, a video loop of a staring, pre-pubescent girl. In the darkened space of the gallery, the lushly over-size projection of Lured I offers successive variations of re-enactments of the key-dropping scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1964 film, Marnie. The work is an evocation of film noir devices accompanied by a hauntingly elongated techno-beat sound track. Beside it, the oak table of Lured II proffers a stack of foil-wrapped candy and a DVD monologue of the same youngster’s strained analysis of character revealed by candy-eating. Lured is about the promise and denial of signification that takes pleasure in detail, that spins off into an over-productive and irrational connecting of things.
Laurel Woodcock is a pioneer in the realm of new media: her work is unusual in its successful integration of technical means and effects with subtle intellectual and emotional content. She gained recognition in an active practice based in Montreal from 1992 – 2000. Last year she moved to Toronto to take up and appointment with the Fine Art faculty at Guelph University, where she is establishing courses in New Media, Video and Performance Art.