Our Red Scarf
13 June Ė 2 August 1998
at Centennial Square
With her newest installation, Edmonton-based artist Darci Mallon has created a synthesis of mark-making and memorial that reads as a meditation on loss. On exhibit at Oakville Galleries, Our Red Scarf is comprised of three elements that function both individually and together: a large mylar drawing, a small pencil drawing, and a glass sculpture.
In the early 1990s, Mallon began making drawings of objects and gestures on large sheets of mylar (translucent plastic film). Using her body as a brush, she dips her fingers in ink and builds images through the dense or diffuse layering of the prints. Borrowing a technique from animation, each drawing depicts a different moment in a gesture, suggesting a temporal process. In Our Red Scarf, Mallon depicts hands clasping a red mass in an ambiguous gesture of either production or destruction. An instrument of creative energy, the hands suggest the artistís personal experience of trading hand-made goods with a dying friend. In exchange for drawing a portrait of the friend and her daughter, Mallon received an enormous red scarf, knit by her friend as she lay suffering in hospital. The scarf became a sacred contract; the gesture of making it a lifeline of activity.
The large mylar drawing is a screen on which projected memories and fugitive images mingle. Hung away from the wall, it makes room for a passage behind that is the site of another, smaller drawing. Drawn by the artist as a young woman, the fraying edges of this portrait suggest its value as a keepsake, a symbol that stirs the memory rather than demonstrates artistic skill. A third element is positioned further away. Similar to the trace of the artist through her fingerprints, this final element is a surface that bears the impression of something else. The long flat piece of poured glass bears the molded impression of a knit scarf and is etched with the word Reservoir. The intricate detailing of the cast form is evidence of the absent objectís construction and also a measure of the time spent creating it. As much as that energy and time spent is now gone, the glass casting shows the trace of an absent form. It serves as a potent metaphor for mortality.
Through a rich interlacing of media, process and imagery that sparks our fluid and often-changeable memories, Mallon creates a powerful mediation on loss.