Curator Frances Loeffler discusses Cosima von Bonin’s solo exhibition Who’s Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea? at Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens.
The exhibition is co-curated by SculptureCenter Curator Ruba Katrib and Glasgow International Director Sarah McCrory. Organized by Glasgow International and SculptureCenter, New York. This exhibition is part of Germany @ Canada 2017, Partners from Immigration to Innovation. Cosima von Bonin is a guest of the Goethe-Institut. Video by Mike Dopsa.
With Cosima von Bonin’s sea creatures all around us this past month, we’re seeing underwater life everywhere we look these days. Gairloch Gardens has flooded repeatedly over the past week, as the stormy waters of Lake Ontario breach the lake wall and spill into the park. As bulldozers tried to get the lake water back where it belongs, we half-expected to see something akin to Valérie Blass’ Presque Plus emerge. This sculpture, held in the Galleries’ collection, sees Blass erect a beguiling pair of swamp-like creatures from just a ghillie suit (a camouflaging costume used by hunters and military snipers) and a found metal armature. Much like von Bonin’s works, this clever combination of objects carries a dark humour, an erotic undertone and an uncanny familiarity.
This month the curatorial office at Oakville Galleries is reading Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life. For a long time, humans have thought themselves to be exceptionally clever, more so than other species. Philosopher Godfrey-Smith suggests that this is not so. We are not superior to the other animals with which we share a planet; we are just differently intelligent. One certainly gets that sense with the creatures that populate Cosima von Bonin’s current exhibition in Gairloch Gardens. They are mysterious and yet also a bit human-like, misbehaving—a shark at a school desk is not acting as most sharks do!—and crafty, not only because they are (for the most part) hand-stitched, but also because they are surely “up to something.”
Staying on theme, next on our reading list is Fifteen Dogs, a novel by André Alexis about a pack of dogs that the gods Apollo and Hermes have imbued with human consciousness and language. A perfect accompaniment to Sojourner Truth Parsons’ exhibition down the road at Centennial Square.
Image: Installation view of Cosima von Bonin, HAI AM TISCH 1, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Neu, Berlin. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.