Clues and Curiosities
17 April – 6 June 2004
in Gairloch Gardens
Curated by Marnie Fleming
Paulette Phillips presents three film/video installations that are uniquely provocative and intriguing. Each one has involved a particular historical event that has bolstered her interests in emotional states of being and narrative construction. The Floating House offers a meditation on memory, loss and anxiety. It features a house floating adrift on a sea and slowly sinking. The historical basis for this piece has its origins in Newfoundlans when small fishing communities were uprooted and floated to other locations. The floating house metaphorically conveys a sense of what it would be like to be placed, unmoored, into an unpredictable environment. Seen in the context of the former Gairloch estate, on the edge of Lake Ontario, the work will further prompt acts of imagination that allow the viewer to identify and creatively associate.
While The Floating House bobs precariously on the water, a second installation, SMUT, examines what grows under the earth. In this recently completed work, Phillips probes a horrific story that was played out in the press over a century ago, that of a mushroom farmer who was found guilty of murder. Shot at a mushroom farm in the Loire region of France, the work evokes the rich physicality of the place and its psychic dimensions.
Another work, Dogwood Pond, was created with the hybrid experiments of John Tradescant the Younger (1608-1662) in mind. He introduced new specimens of North American flora and fauna into the English countryside, forever altering the ecosystem. This collaborative piece with Michael Buchanan is a playful and imaginative investigation into Tradescant's cabinet of curiosities and the very "curious" specimens of the natural world that he may have encountered.
Phillips' oeuvre circles obsessively around themes of social history, forensics, psychology and science. In these tightly crafted pieces, the artist sets into motion a dialogue with viewers, one that ignites the power of imagination to complete a circuit both literally and metaphorically.