Amanda Nedham

January 16th, 2010

Art As Agenda

Amanda Nedham and Jannick Deslauriers at WhipperSnapper Gallery, 587a College St.

Emerging-artist shows – particularly those in multipurpose spaces like concert/event/art venue WhipperSnapper – can be tricky to get right, with a feeling of both artist and host still reaching to consolidate a voice. At its best, this pairing of Amanda Nedham and Jannick Deslauriers pleasingly contrasts two different material and design approaches to similar subject matter. At its worst, the show reflects some poor editing. Montreal’s Deslauriers has three striking pieces: One is a large, fragile and ghostly white-gauze sculpture of an army tank, while the other two replicate bombs using similar fabric. These works speak to war and loss strongly enough on their own, making the fabric poppies Deslauriers has added to the space seem distracting. Toronto’s Nedham, already known for meticulous drawings on themes of cruelty and torture, here creates a large, ominously darkened room out of scrap wood. The opaqueness of Nedham’s technique – with even the room’s windows rendered in timber – ricochets off Deslauriers’ light, airy approach quite nicely. Unfortunately, that opaqueness also reflects the challenge of understanding the scene Nedham puts before us: Is the bed in the room a site of comfort, an instrument of torture or both? (A faulty light fixture doesn't help matters.)Nevertheless, thoughts on violence receive resonating treatments here. To Jan. 22.