Sat. May 21st, 2022

Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG) reopened on September 28 with the launch of The Baroness Elsa Project.

The touring exhibition features eight contemporary racialized, queer, trans, gender conformist and female artists in conversation with the radical art of the Dadaist Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, otherwise known as the ‘Baroness’.

Dadaism — or dada — is an avant-garde art movement of the early 20th century that evolved in response to the horrors of World War I. It was an artistic challenge to capitalism, nationalism and other ideals of the war.

Fiona Wright, coordinator of student and public programs at CUAG, described how important von Freytag-Loringhoven was to the world of Dadaism.

“Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven was this unique, incredible fireworks of a human being who really embodied this avant-garde art movement called dada that happened,” Wright said. “She really lived that as a poet, performance artist and sculptor.”

Ray Ferreira, a black latinx performer, is one of the featured artists on display.

“It is interesting to think of this movement that was started during the first great imperialist war, while we are in the midst of a very different imperialist division of the world,” Ferreira said in an email to Charlatan. “[The] same basic opposites [are] manifests itself in and in different ways. ”

Ferreira recontextualizes a section of her December 2019 performance piece “to spiral seems to be the only option” for CUAG’s exhibition.

The original piece was performed by Ferreira and was to represent the stories of those who jumped from slave ships en route to North America and the Caribbean. The recontextualized piece will be a visual art representation.

“The two sculptures, painted wig heads dripping in the rhinestone, give a sparkling refrain of some of the themes in the text of the video, and the two prints carry an echo of the text back in the water, albeit this time in a friend’s vessel,” Ferreira wrote.

Saskatchewan-based artist Cindy Stelmackowich is one of the featured artists in the CUAG ​​exhibition. She uses sculptures, installations and digital photography to explore the relationship between art, science and our bodies. She also uses medical objects in her artwork.

Based on her research on the Baroness and her anti-war sentiments, Stelmackowich created a new work of art for CUAG ​​entitled Shell Shock.

“The work I created was based on this collection of world wars, a medical splint made from wire mesh used and created by the medical profession,” Stelmackowich said.

She added that von Freytag-Loringhoven was good at questioning preconceptions about what art is.

“She was so effective at using found objects, saying that this is a charged object that could be art and throwing it back to society,” Stelmackowich said. “It’s not just about working on making beautiful paintings. It questions the idea of ​​what we call art. ”

Stelmackowich said von Freytag-Loringhoven had remarkable thoughts about the war and how it intersects with the human body.

“She was very concerned about the effects of the trauma [the First World War] would have on society and its effects on the body, ”said Stelmackowich.

Stelmackowich said she had this in mind when she created art for the exhibition that aimed to show WW1’s effect on the body.

“By reinventing a found object and turning it into something new, [my work] tells politics about the object, the story of the object and forces people to reconsider and reconsider it, ”Stelmackowich said.

The title Shell Shock was inspired by dada artists who had a fascination with shadows as part of their visual language. Stelmackowich also decided to turn on her display, which created 20 to 30 feet of shadows behind her work.

Artist Cindy Stelmackowich’s play entitled ‘Shell Shock’ is part of CUAG’s ‘The Baroness Elsa Project’ exhibition, now until 5 December. [Image provided by Cindy Stelmackowich]

“It’s an animated piece. I hit the pulses I wanted with the Dadaists and Baroness Elsa, ”she said.

This year’s Stonecraft Symposium, hosted by CUAG, will feature a series of virtual events related to The Baroness Elsa Project. The symposium is a free public event held annually at CUAG ​​to promote a discourse on the concepts that artists present in current exhibitions.

The first event will be a panel discussion on October 7 with participating artists Dana Claxton, Wit López, Sheilah ReStack and Cindy Stelmackowich. This will be followed by a collage workshop led by Ottawa-based artist FEZA on October 20 and a poetry and performance evening with Ray Ferreira on November 18.

The Baroness Elsa project ends on 5 December with a digital portrait and review of the exhibition.


Featured image of Saarah Rasheed.

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