On Sunday I went to The Power Plant in Toronto to catch the Ydessa Hendeles show ‘The Milliner’s Daughter’ before it closed a day later. I went because an artist friend of mine, Victoria Cowan, pointed out its connection to what I do.
There were many rooms of work, each with a different story to tell. What struck me most strongly at first was how extraordinary the objects were, gathered by Hendeles over many years – a lifetime even.
Some items such as the numerous vitrines and two pairs of oversized pince-nez, were exquisitely crafted, as were the focus of my visit: the truly amazing collection of mannequins.
'Containment' is a sculpture installation, featuring photo-digital figures in light boxes, that grew out of my 'Boxed In' series, pictured below. Click here to see more.
Some were tiny miniatures some life sized or larger; some mechanical toys, but most the kind used by artists to this day.
The combinations, poses, containment or not, scale contrasts whether between figures or between a figure and the furniture it was placed on, they all set up narrative possibilities, which were hard for the brain to resist.
The uncanny feeling of these articulated dolls comes from the conflict between our cognitive understanding that yes, of course these are inanimate, often very stylized mannequins, but on the other hand how life-like their presence was.
It was very interesting to me as someone who teaches figure and portrait to note how little our brains need to register something as a human being, much like the instances of well-known, often religious figures' faces being found on pieces of toast or a stain on a wall.
As for the connection to my work, some of which is pictured here, I think I’ll let it speak for itself except to say these ‘Boxed In’ figure works formed the basis for a broader range of work and media concerned with barriers, boundaries and constraints, both physical and not.
That formed the basis for my Chains Unlinked show at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, the mural portion is pictured here. It was also the origin of my 'Containment' installation at In Situ in 2016, particularly the drawers-turned-to-lightboxes, with solitary figures and faces inside, like the one shown here.
What do you think, what connections do you see? Did you see either show? Please let me know in the comments below.
Examples of my Boxed In figures above and below.
As a visual artist I like nothing more than getting up to my elbows in paint or little plastic toys, or wading in at the deep end in pursuit of an idea. When I am not teaching others in a similar vein, you can find me researching, writing and noodling around in my studio, seeing where my latest lines of inquiry lead me.
All images and content on this website © Kim-Lee Kho 2005–2018 except as indicated. All rights reserved. No reproduction without express, written permission.