Loss and mass are two themes which occur in the photographs selected for RMG Exposed, a fundraising auction of juried photography taking place Saturday, Nov. 12, 7-10 p.m. at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Mass, or Volume, is represented by water, pattern and architecture while loss shows up in various forms including urban decay and erotic longing (Sam Pierre's "Boys" and Sara Heinonen "Love It Here".
There is an interesting juxtaposition between the various photographers in the exhibit; Bill Hornbostel celebrates the architecture of Toronto City Hall and Cobourg train station as bulwarks. In form they are as sturdy as the rocky landscapes of Carolyn Doucette's featured works. However others focus on architectural decay; Oliver Stein's Manhattan, Tim McGhie's Regent Park, Tom Ridout's Michigan Avenue, Jeffery Gardner's Snow Horse focus on broken buildings, houses, barns, stores as does Gary Chappelle’s On Ice. Is this longing for a past, fear of a future?
Mass is selected in the ice and snow of Chappelle and Gardner but also the Tabular Iceberg of Paul Teolis. Mass is amount, a calculation of volume. Volume measured in repetition of elements, in patterning: Tristan Mitchell's "Sewer Grate", Danna Yuhas' "Balconies, Barcelona, Spain" and AJ Groen's "Tree Line". The patterns shown are mostly curves, waves ( Avi Cohen's "Rice Terrace and Farmer"). Are they sea waves, air waves, radio waves, sound waves? Is mass lost because mass fragments, liquidfies? Do icebergs that sink ships just melt away? Are mountains just piles of dust?
“How many years must a mountain exist before it is washed to the sea? sang Bob Dylan or as Shelly put it in Ozymandias, “Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/ Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare/ The lone and level sands stretch far away”
Leif Petersen’s “Morning Shadows” features those lonesome sands, curved by the winds into waves. But it is not the desert, dry and arid that is the stuff of these photographs but the abundance, the richness of water that washes over the juried show. Water is the central subject matter and speaks maybe to the flood of information we dip into, surf over, are awash in and the challenges it presents.
The "Midsummer Children" of Laurie Crew are ready for a dip. (Children get new technology so much faster don’t they), perhaps into Chad C. Kirvan's "Blue Line". Lora Moore-Kakaletris's subject has already broken the surface. Michele Taras' study is titled "Floating Reverie", it could be Ophelia, free now to just be, carried by the currents. Do we give up and drown in information or rage against the stream, gasping for answers? Do we tune out the flood of information or break the surface and dive in deep, seeking survival?
Natalie Austin's "Fishermen" stare into the information stream, seeking food, life. The stuff of life steeps in the soapy water of Jordyn Stewart's "Displaced", (a sly fish float sits in the sink with the dishes). In Dawn Brooks' "Mist", a photo of a shoreline there is a reminder water beats rock and the architecture of Hornbostel will become the stuff of Brilynn Ferguson's "St. Agnes" or Kirvan's "When The Engine Dies" or even Tom Ridout's "Machine Age".
For the most part these artists are sharing with us fair warning but there lies within this selection something that speaks loudest to our present circumstances. There is something of Nero fiddling in the fires of Rome to Jen Yeaman's "Big Beach". There is the volume of humanity blindly soaking up the sun, a mass of bodies, each one engaged in its own bubbling skin, relaxed, amid the landscape of flowery umbrellas and the vast sands of the beach. This is the stuff of now, akin to the humans in Pixar's Wall-Eye, the roly-poly hedonists sipping on Big Gulps and watching screens. On "Big Beach" humans flop on the sands like a herd of walruses, while in the background the water rolls on in, wave after wave after wave.