At CIRCA, Candice Davies continues her practice of inhabiting gallery spaces with objects of the everyday, denuded of use value, and replicated with exceptional care from material associated with the most traditional of sculpture practices, stone. This inhabitation is oddly light given the nature of the materials used in its manufacture and their historical precedence, in fact it is barely even noticeable. Her “special project” operates as a kind of absence, for the signifiers are there to indicate an artist is being presented; the signage, the (this) supporting text, the codified space of the gallery; but where is the actual work?
Davies has carved, from white Italian alabaster, new faceplates for the exposed electrical outlets in the main entranceway of the gallery, replicated the BX cable that travels along its baseboards and the electrical box. The electrical system ordinarily hidden in contemporary construction is all surface mounted in this sweatshop-long-turned-gallery space. This is not an unusual state of affairs in Montréal, a north-american-old and breaking city, or in artists’ studios in general. Often times these sorts of places were either built prior to household electricity, or the walls were intentionally so impermanent one would not take the time to snake cables through. There is an interesting collage, of power sources as drawn line and evidence of economic realities in the actual cables and outlets, which becomes content both amplified and entwined when replicated in stone.
Her practice simultaneously asserts and denies the object nature of the work of art. This operation of being both things at once creates a unique tension that conjures Baudrillard and his notion of simulacrum, wherein a copy or reproduction becomes a truth unto itself. Though his argument was that meaning (value) is created through difference-through what something is not”. What happens then if what something is cannot be determined, how does one imagine its other. Davies’ faceplates are just that, faceplates -not pictures of them, they perform the same duties of keeping the power where it is supposed to be and our fingers away from it, but they are also highly crafted sculpture. This unfixed position, multiple selves, or oscillation between, is not a hyperreality, it produces a new concern and suggests a more contemporary turn.
The work is caught in the tension between the (now historical) ideal of the immaterialization of art and the current move towards its rematerialization. As that original trajectory of thought played out, the idea of craft and material choice alongside mode of production revealed its role as conceptual. Though Davies’ work does not assert itself as a knowledge base, it helps create a void, a circumstance, a situation. It is experienced and not much use to document, for its image appears to be the thing itself, so its difference is illegible outside of a shared space. As such it brings the exhibition space into question as the work mirrors the site and camouflages its own object art nature, turning the illusion of emptiness and absence into a palpable experience. This simple action questions the authority usually implicit in an art institution context by deemphasizing the art object and calling attention to the gallery itself as a constructed site of power. Particularly interesting is that this gesture begins in the transitional space of entry into the galleries and then threads the literal representation of power through the spaces. This suggests a preparatory nature of the gesture – it is from where we begin. Also of note, this institutional critique is housed within a reparative act, for the alabaster faceplates she has carved have replaced the original broken plastic ones. This gentleness and action of care suggests that the artist is not only aware of her collusion in the creation of these sites, their values, fables and fallacies, but that she will work hard for them. She implicates herself fully. Hers is not a cheeky observation or a desire to undo, but an act of direct engagement in the making of art, its complex histories and intersubjectivities.
She has found a method of production that allows her to produce while operating both within and without a commodity chain. In this she has created a situation of her own making, a subjective space of absence. This is a place historically occupied by the feminine, the decorative, and the idea.
Candice Davies received a BFA with Honours in Visual Arts from York University and is currently completing a MFA in Sculpture at Concordia University, where she was awarded the J. A. Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Dale and Nick Tedeschi Studio Fellowship. Her practice examines the links between the replica and the copy and looks at the status of the ‘’art object’’ and the value of the everyday object. Her work has been exhibited in Canada and the United States at venues such as Parisian Laundry, FOFA Gallery, Helens Day Art Center and O’Born Contemporary. In 2014, she will be artist in residence at the Vermont Studio Center where she is a recipient of the Charles C. Curd Artist Residency.
Jake Moore is an artist, curator and cultural worker. She has a diploma in Furniture Design and Construction from the School of Crafts and Design at Sheridan College, Oakville, Ontario, and holds both a BFA in Sculpture and an MFA in Fibres and Material Practices from Concordia University in Montréal. She has exhibited widely in Québec and Canada, including solo exhibitions at Parisian Laundry, FOFA Gallery and Optica in Montréal, AXENÉO7 in Gatineau, Walter Phillips Gallery in Banff, Alberta and various venues in Winnipeg, Manitoba.