Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sharon Hayes at CUAG in Ottawa

In her exhibition Loudspeakers and Other Forms of Listening at the Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG) between 3 February and 27 April 2014, the American artist Sharon Hayes does not simply re-enact the political past but re-fashions it with dry humour, a sense of the absurd, and empathy, by marking our historical differences and making them materially present. For example, in the four-channel video installation Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) Screeds #13, 16, 20 & 29, one of her signature works on display, Hayes is coached by an audience as she falteringly recites partially memorized transcripts of the four taped statements made by Patty Hearst during her captivity with the SLA in the 1970s. Each work in the exhibition contains a similar, interior structural spacing, like a broadcast delay that suspends the immediate reception of its address.

Sharon Hayes, We Knew We Would Go to Jail, still, two-channel video installation, 2003-2012.

Reflexive aspects of the exhibition are doubled by the fact that it is being presented at CUAG, as several of the works consider the university as a crucible for political activism and the formation of political and personal identity. As an apocryphal preamble to the exhibition, there is a video monitor displaying archival photographs of protests by Carleton students through the 1960s. An undergraduate on campus might even identify with the twenty-something interlocutors of the video installation We Knew We Would Go to Jail if he or she didn't get the sense that they were putting on an act. The exhibition offers a study in how politics are represented, performed, and taught.

I wrote about the exhibition for the Akimblog on March 25, and you can read the review in its entirety by clicking on this link.

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