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VOLTA Fashion & Lifestyle Society

The sole responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the authors. Its contents do not reflect the opinion of the University Students’ Council of the University of Western Ontario (“USC”). The USC assumes no responsibility or liability for any error, inaccuracy, omission or comment contained in this publication or for any use that may be made of such information by the reader.

table of contents 04 CONTRIBUTORS this issue’s Volta team



05 EDITOR’S LETTER Kasia Knap and Emma Barrett

23 IN PROCESS by Nicole Patrick


06 MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS notable magazine members

24 STORE FRONT the tag as aesthetic object

07 COVER PAGE & SPONSORS the production team behind the cover image

32 CULTURE ft. highlights of spring 2013

52 BORDER CROSSINGS travel themed ready-to-wear 62 PEER PRESSURE by Aaron Gray


36 ELEMENTARY Apollonian rendering


44 WE ARE OPEN by Alexandria Petropoulakis

12 COLOUR THEORY monochromatic take on spring fashions



Photograph by Jan Kuzan






LITERARY EDITORS Emily Smibert Zayn Khamis

WOMEN’S FASHION DIRECTOR Faustina Sari Setiawan WOMEN’S STYLISTS Hannah Murphy-Marshman Alexandra Petropoulakis MEN’S FASHION DIRECTOR-AT-LARGE Torrel Ollivirrie MEN’S FASHION DIRECTOR Aaron Gray GUEST MEN’S FASHION DIRECTOR Daniel Canavan PHOTOGRAPHERS Jan Kuzan Daphne Wu Julian Romano Richard Goodine Sorin Popa

WRITERS Emma Barrett Rachel Read-Baxter Julia Puzara Nicole Patrick Blair Corbett Keely McCavitt Rachel Woolmore-Goodwin Grace Braniff Alexandra Petropoulakis Sam Burgess Kasia Knap Jag Raina Aaron Gray Emily Fister Jennifer Lorraine Frasier TEXT EDITORS Keagan Davis-Burns Angelica Ng

MAKE-UP ARTISTS Jasneet Nijjar Hang Yang ASSISTANT TO MAKE-UP ARTIST Lawvin Hadisi CASTING DIRECTORS Merrick Chan Sandra Bartkowiak MODELS Nicole Araujo (Anita Norris Models) Victoria Fryday (Anita Norris Models) Alice Ma (Anita Norris Models) Luke Hamilton (Anita Norris Models) Cole McNall (Anita Norris Models) Sydney Stone Quinn Griffiths Christianne Hoey Lucas Crosby (Anita Norris Models) Kyle Standeart (Anita Norris Models) Joanna Braud Graham Taylor (Anita Norris Models) Eric Ferket (Anita Norris Models) Grace Braniff Jan Kuzan

COVER Model: Christianne Hoey; Photographer: Julian Romano



Letter from the Editors

In the wake of F/W ’12 issue’s focus on reimagining fall fashion, much of this issue highlights the interplay between art and its influence on style. In “Colour Theory”, shot by returning photographer Jan Kuzan, our models utilize a painting studio to emphasize the vivid singular colours offered this Spring, strutting, jumping, and even taking flight in the production space. Observing this theme, many of our writers take an in-depth look at the current climate of the art world, not only in a local and provincial scope, but at an international level as well. This issue we partnered with Anita Norris Models, a local London modeling agency, to host our first-ever Cover Model Search. We had an incredible turnout, and are very excited to feature winner Christianne Hoey both on the cover and in the “After School Special” editorial. Collaborating once again with Sorin Popa and local London vintage boutique Mesh, this shoot is our evaluation of the classic grunge look, updated for a fresh Spring visual. We had a number of new additions to the photography team this issue. Daphne Wu in “Store Front” critically investigates manners of displaying the price tag, transforming it into an aesthetic object. Richard Goodine, with the men’s styling team, offers how to travel in style this season in “Border Crossings”. Finally, up-andcoming photographer Julian Romano captures the statuesque in “Elementary”, our beauty editorial that continues the issue’s spring sentiment by coupling earth-toned shades with inspired lighting to sculpt the human form. We hope you enjoy this issue, and will see you again in the Fall! Your editors, Kasia Knap

Emma Barrett




Hannah Murphy-Marshman: Women’s Stylist This was Hannah’s first year with Volta magazine, and she was eager to take part in all of it. With a warehouse full of accessories, and passion for perfection, Hannah was enthusiastic and full of ideas at every shoot, always thinking of innovative ideas for every-day-garments. No matter how hectic her schedule, she always finds time to bake. There is always time for home-made brownies.

Emily Fister: Writer After growing up on a tree farm in between a log cabin and a pig barn, Emily always longed for the sleepless city life. With a hungry curiosity for the world, this versatile writer is fueled by travel, art, music, fashion, and human rights. Soon, she’ll graduate with an Honors Specialization in Media & the Public Interest (MPI) from Western University. The rest is up to fate and wanderlust, but the next chapter of creativity will most likely start in the beautiful city of Vancouver. If all else fails, she’ll make a documentary about gender-neutral paper dolls.

Sorin Popa: Photographer Sorin is an electrical engineering student who has decided to spend what little free time he has photographing some very talented models rather than do more calculus. Taking up photography in high school, along the way he has been inspired by artists such as Sally Mann, Jacques Olivar, and Juergen Teller. He enjoys shooting outdoors and the outdoors itself as an avid sailor and runner.




renewal written by EMMA BARRETT

The Fashion and Textile History Gallery in Chelsea is currently home to “Fashion and Technology”, an exhibit exploring the impact of technological advancements on the course of fashion, from materials to construction to consumption. On at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) until May 2013, the gallery’s garments showcase an evolution in aesthetic and function from the Industrial Revolution through present day. Fashion and Technology exhibits remarkable pieces, seemingly ahead of their time, as innovations in textiles and production methods push the limits of fashion experimentation. “Techno-fashion,” a predominantly 21st century ideal, has its roots centuries ago, as technological innovations began to complement an evolving aesthetic. How purveyors of fashion interact with technology consistently infiltrates designers’ imagination, providing an avenue to discover new possibilities, and highlighting the tensions felt between production handiwork and new processes. Leading to today’s techno-fashion, the FIT exhibit looks at the impact of emerging technologies on fashion production. The timeline begins with the Industrial Revolution, highlighting advancements in textile manufacturing. A simple crème cotton and silk ribbon day dress from 1815 was made possible after the invention of the Spinning Jenny in 1764, which mechanized the process for spinning cotton into thread, making the mass production of cotton thread highly efficient. Further along, an original Singer sewing machine is shown, beside a purple and black silk taffeta afternoon dress from 1860. At this time, aniline dyes were being devised, the first synthetic dyes used, allowing for the rich bourgeois to perpetuate a new purple fashion trend. By the beginning of the 20th century, a rapidly evolving urban landscape caught the eye of designers, specifically architectural achievements in the form of skyscrapers. The Art Deco movement began to mimic these technological advancements, creating heavily decorated geometric pieces. Futuristic Art Deco trends utilized technology as not only a part of the design, but as an aesthetic as well. Elsa Schiaparelli often used zippers as decorative elements in her garments, and confetti-looking bits of cellophane were fashioned onto flapper dresses. Replacing the hook-and-eye closure in 1913, the zipper minimized the time it took for women to dress, and became a mainstay in many Schiaparelli pieces. Materials also saw many changes, with the introduction of rubbers and plastics on shoes and evening wear. Introduced in 1916 by U.S. Rubber, Keds shoes have become a hit in recent years, but were one of the first canvas shoes to employ a rubber sole. Post-WWII, the world was captivated by the contemplation of space travel. With the dramatic expansion of the U.S. Space program in 1961 by John F. Kennedy, fashionable elite envisioned a casual jaunt to the moon by the end of the decade as well. The youthful fashions which followed captured the excitement surrounding the technological advancements of entering space.




Andre Courreges’ 1968 pink wool ensemble and Pierre Cardin’s synthetic fuchsia dress conjure images of a recreational stroll at the space station. Similar to Paco Rabanne’s memorable dress in Two for the Road, designers began experimenting with metallic; an aesthetic which can only be described as galactic resort wear. A 1978 Thierry Mugler silver metallic lamé dress is shown, fusing a futuristic fabric with the renowned body-conscious silhouette of the time. Space age garments, fueled by technological advancement, ruled the time, an indication of a desire for modernity. An infatuation with the space race shifted towards cyberspace in the early 1990’s. Computer-operated Jacquard looms were beginning to be used to make prints, with vinyl and nylon being the materials of choice. A 1996 printed nylon blue jacket and skirt by Kenneth Richard had an iridescent edge, imagining how the visual aspects of the Internet might appear. For his F/W 1998 collection, Helmut Lang was the first designer to ever broadcast an Internet-based fashion show; broadcasted among the FIT collection’s cyberspace pieces, viewers can relate to the fact that the Internet is now at the forefront of fashion consumption. Maintaining this trend, current designers continue to push technological limits in their designs. During Alexander McQueen’s S/S 1999 show, robotic arms arose from the runway, and systematically spray-painted model Shalom Harlow in her white, hand-sewn gown; what resulted was a colour-smeared piece with a chaotic element. This final garment represented a strong conflict between handcrafted clothing and modern manufacturing, a clash felt throughout the FIT exhibit. The FIT show closes with what designers envision the future is going to be like: a seemingly laser-cut polyurethane dress by Gareth Pugh, garments printed with Midi files, and those with the ability to record audio. The most intriguing prospective fashion is the LilyPad Arduino circuit board, essentially a miniature computer which can be sewn into clothing. Coupled with Louise Gray’s 2012 dress covered in a QR code, the strong hold social media has over consumption of branding and fashion could manifest itself in the near future, with garments giving wearers the ability to update their Facebook status. In the transition from the Industrial Revolution to Art Deco, the space race and cyberspace, the intersection of technology and historical handiwork have caused tensions between the two schools of thought. By passing this intersection in the utilization of innovations in technology as it relates to materials and design, designers have pushed the boundaries of fashion, foreseeing a coveted future. In retrospect, these fashions create a powerful insight into how older generations viewed technology, and the strong desire for modernism that was felt. From cellophane sequins to fiber-optic thread, current influences of technology on fashion indicate the present, and how we perceive the future.



Mid Summer, Christian Vincent, 2012. Image courtesy of Mike Weiss Gallery.






written by RACHEL READ-BAXTER he exhibition “Ear to the Ground” at the Michael Weiss gallery in New York displays the works of artist Christian Vincent. His works are ethereal and hazy, dealing with the subject matter of young adults on the breach of adulthood. By using a soft colour palette, he creates a dream like atmosphere that forces the viewer into his vision. It is as if the viewer is confronting a memory of Vincent’s youth mixed in with their personal memories. His paintings allow the viewer to relate to these frozen moments in time because the subject matter is so significant. He captures adolescents on the verge of adulthood who are still able to live innocently.

Vincent’s work captures this sense of innocence as it merges with the onset of sexual curiosity. His paintings are erotically inclined, especially in his work The Nature of Time. In The Nature of Time the colours are those at dusk, where warm colours start to fade from the sky for cooler colours to settle in. The mood is wistful yet sexually charged. It commands feelings such as temptation and longing as well as curiosity. The Nature of Time depicts a boy looking upward at girls in a tree house. One girl’s legs are draped over the side and the boy is walking by, admiring the female form dangling above him. Red flowers mask the girl’s face, which is suggestive of her blossoming sexuality. Vincent’s themes, as well as his use of figures, are similar to the works of Eric Fischl. Both artists deal with the coming of sexual maturity while dealing with the human form. In Fischl’s and as well as Vincent’s works, light plays an important role in setting the scene. Fischl plays with light and shadow, creating tension between the figures and the surrounding space as seen in his earlier works such as Bad Boy in 1981. Vincent manipulates tone and light to create a dream-like effect. Both artists also use the ‘male gaze’ to create sexual tension in their paintings. In Fischl’s painting Bad Boy, the boy is unashamedly gazing at a naked woman in front of him, while the woman remains frozen in space, not meeting his gaze. In The Nature of Time as well as his painting Mid Summer Vincent paints his boy figure in a similar position to Fischls’ Bad Boy with the back turned from the viewer to gaze toward the female figure. Vincent’s paintings allude to a more innocent occasion whereas Fischl’s are more sexually motivated. The subject matter that Vincent deals with is endearing and forces the viewer to confront an awkward period of time in most people’s lives. While the works The Nature in Time and Mid Summer play on these themes, his other works such as A Century Ago and Recurring Dream do not fit in with the rest of his works in the exhibition. A Century Ago and Recurring Dream are very fantastical, much more so than the other works. While the works remain dream-like and unworldly, they take on a clichéd vibe of a dream world. The imagery that they provide is that of a standard symbolic message with a lack of sensation between the figures. Vincent’s works are most successful when focusing on the interaction of atmosphere and figures, as the hazy tonality and the young figures create an interesting and relatable anecdote for teenage youth.




Victoria wears 1979s poly neon orange mini skirt from Mesh ($10), Parkhurst orange tank from Mesh ($11), and wood bandage platforms, stylist’s own

Nicole wears mint green chiffon blouse, tweed jacket, silk trousers, stylist’s own Alice wears leather green jacket from Mesh ($40), and emerald chiffon dress, stylist’s own

Victoria wears yellow dress from Mesh ($25), and yellow shoulder bag, stylist’s own Nicole wears emerald peplum lace shirt, dark green tank top, stylist’s own

Victoria wears 1979s poly neon orange mini skirt from Mesh ($10), Parkhurst orange tank from Mesh ($11), and wood bandage platforms, stylist’s own Alice wears red latex clutch from Mesh ($19), crimson silk blouse, red cigarette pants, red velvet pumps, stylist’s own

Alice wears crimson silk blouse, red cigarette pants, stylist’s own

Nicole wears emerald peplum lace shirt, dark green tank top, emerald high-low skirt, stylist’s own

Victoria wears 1979s poly neon orange mini skirt from Mesh ($10), Parkhurst orange tank from Mesh ($11), and wood bandage platforms, stylist’s own Nicole wears high-waist royal blue polyester/rayon shorts, blue cotton shirt, blue velvet heels, stylist’s own

Alice wears leather green jacket from Mesh ($40), and emerald chiffon dress, stylist’s own

RIGOLETTO: a fickle review

written by JULIA PUZARA

My motivation for attending the Metropolitan Opera on a recent trip to New York was curiosity. I wanted to have the experience of going to the opera. Without any pre-existing interest in opera music, I was told to see Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto, because it was ‘a classic’. It wasn’t until after plans were made and tickets were purchased that I researched the production further and realized the context for this particular version of Rigoletto. Director Michael Mayer’s first opera is a new addition to the Met’s 2012/2013 season, Mayer’s directorial twist is moving the story from sixteenth century Mantua, Italy, to Las Vegas circa 1960. Mayer’s interpretation should not work. In theory it is an awful idea. The idea of taking Verdi’s classic operatic tragedy and relocating it in Las Vegas is problematic for a number of reasons, most of which involve taste and context. As the curtain rose for the performance I cringed. The stage was lit in that awful yellow that one often sees at a play. This, in addition to the elaborate costumes, some of which included plume feathers and extravagant choreography, epitomized a kitsch that I associate more closely with the theatricality of commercial Broadway productions rather than the high art of the opera. But, as the show continued, despite my best efforts I became intrigued. Rigoletto is sung in Italian, so on the back of the seat in front of each viewer is a small screen on which one can read a translation of what is being sung. From the balcony, if I looked at the screen I could not see the stage and if I listened to the music I could not focus on reading what was being sung. After the second intermission came ‘La Donna è Mobile’, a song recognizable from Bugs Bunny cartoons and frozen ‘Italian’ pizza commercials alike. Verdi himself anticipated the catchiness of the melody so much that before the opera debut, he ensured the song was only rehearsed in secrecy, protecting it from the public ear. Rigoletto brings his daughter Gilda to the outskirts of Las Vegas to prove to her the true nature of The Duke, whom she has fallen in love with. The Duke sings ‘La Donna è Mobile’ in a seedy club, while the woman he is currently interested in seducing wraps herself around a pole. There is a sort of gorgeous, comical irony that exists in this scene. The viewer is familiar with the song from kitsch encounters with it in popular culture, but as they read what it is actually about something interesting happens between the seduction of a fantastic melody and a repellent meaning. ‘La Donna è Mobile’ literally translates into ‘the woman is fickle’ and is basically The Duke’s complaint about the flighty nature of women. The irony is furthered in the narrative of the opera, after The Duke proclaims the unfaithfulness of women, two women are in love with and remain extremely faithful to him. This song and all that accompanies it is exactly why Rigoletto works. By introducing a shameless theatricality into Rigoletto Mayer creates this weird irony that is funny, creating layers in Verdi’s tragedy that are absolutely exciting. Rigoletto should not be entertaining, it should be exhausting - but it works exactly because it should not work.



In Process written by NICOLE PATRICK

The art of seduction as a process is one that I had yet to encounter within my limited experience in the art scene, but was introduced to on a class trip to New York where I had the opportunity to participate in a studio visit with Julia Dault, a successful and young contemporary artist. Initially while reading through interviews with the artist and reviews from a commendable list of exhibitions that she was involved in, I had to admit I still wasn’t fully convinced by her work. Dault’s Plexiglass and Formica sculptures are often referred to as performative pieces as they are bound together in a formation that teeters on the edge of questionable sustainability. As I read through numerous interviews attempting to gage a better understanding of her work I became aware that the process in which these sculptures were composed were an essential aspect to her practice. The force and stamina required to grapple with these uncooperative materials in attempt to restrain them, proved to be a recognizable feat of physical exertion. Upon further reading I discovered the titling of each one of her sculptures were based on the time required to construct them and were described as an accessible entry point for the viewer into the artist’s process. This is where I became sceptical as I found that the trendy topic of material investigatory and process based work has the potential to be problematic from a viewer’s standpoint. The work produced is heavily weighted in the artist’s experience in making the piece and if the viewer is not allowed into that space of production it can prove to be somewhat disengaging and exclusive. I then hastily concluded that for an audience that has limited access to that process there is little left to ponder other than the mystique of how the work was formulated by the maker and therefore halts any further conversation. Ultimately, I was not yet assured that the titling was a sufficient invitation for the viewer into that sacred process. After my new found revelation concerning Dault’s work I approached the scheduled studio visit with relative confidence in my presumptuous and, to be fair, premature critiques of her work which I had not yet seen in person. Dault invited our class into her studio, and as we filed in one by one into the immaculate and intimate space we positioned ourselves around her, eagerly preparing ourselves with notepads. As I waited for my fellow classmates to get settled and for the initial introductions to be exchanged I purposely placed my finger on my list of confrontational questions that would soon be forgotten and eventually discarded. Dault began her talk with a brief but informative academic and professional history that preluded her current practice as a professional contemporary artist. The discussion moved smoothly into a more in-depth analysis of her own work and her consideration for her materials and her process. As she addressed the aspects of her practice, which I had just previously read about, I became increasingly enticed. She spoke about the performative aspect of her sculptures while she herself was giving a performance that was convincingly yet subtly promoting her work. Throughout this lecture I became more aware of the similarities between the artist and the work she was creating. As Dault expressed herself she often resorted to bodily gestures that further emphasized her articulation of her work and oddly imitated the figurative quality that her work possesses, something that I had not yet considered. The lacquered curves of her constructed sculptures and the tension between the bindings were also present within Dault’s much rehearsed yet surprisingly revealing talk. Dault’s quick access to an extensive and slick vocabulary was reminiscent of her mirrored materials she often works with. This process of communicatory seduction proved to be the process in which I found the most accessible in Dault’s work as it allowed for a more open dialogue, so to speak, surrounding the multifaceted nature of her practice.




Sydney wears beige sequin crop top, salmon polyester high-low skirt, and nude bra, stylist’s own

Quinn wears pale blue sequin crop top, maxi turquoise chiffon skirt, and silver elven ring, stylist’s own



Sydney wears H&M rose polyester blazer from Mesh ($11.50), cream polyester baby doll dress, gold and pastel pink earrings, stylist’s own



Quinn wears rayon floral wide-leg trouser, pastel purple rayon blouse, mint skull ring, stylist’s own

Sydney wears mint cotton peter pan-collar shirt, and cream chiffon accordion skirt, stylist’s own Quinn wears Tatula viscose mint jacket from Mesh ($22), cream viscose body suit, and white cotton/ chiffon skirt, stylist’s own

yo la tengo at phoenix concert theatre; feb 9, 2013 It felt like an eternity waiting for one of my favourite bands to finally come to Toronto to play a gorgeous set of songs about growing old. I knew it was worth the thirty dollars premium I shelled out to scalper vermin to see the soldout show at the Phoenix, but it sealed the deal when I learned Yo La Tengo would be opening for themselves. The crowd swelled around a stage that had three silhouetted tree cutouts masking monolithic amps, in front of which were a stripped down drum kit, a couple guitars, and a keyboard. The trio stepped onto the stage beaming, sitting before their audience to deliver a quiet opening set of hushed, honeyed harmonies, gentle acoustic and electric guitars highlighting the reflective mood of their excellent new album, Fade. Ebullient album opener ‘Ohm’ took a relaxed turn, leading to soothing renditions of Painful’s ‘Sudden Organ’ and Fade highlight ‘Cornelia and Jane,’ their minimalist reflections on lifelong relationships and the passing of time, which was brought into focus by their laidback approach. After a brief intermission, they proved themselves an astonishingly spry for a group of fiftysomethings, instantly establishing the main set’s momentum with ‘Stupid Things’

steady motorik beat, laying down a closing wall of feedback before dashing around stage exchanging instruments to let loose the siren wail of ‘Big Day Coming (Loud)’ in all its nervy glory. The set proceeded without a slack moment, coasting from peak to peak on a setlist honed from nearly thirty years of amazing records. Georgia Hubley’s no-frills beats and James McNew’s steady bass anchored Ira Kaplan, who moved from confidently slow dancing with his guitar to frenetically throttling it to death without a moment’s hesitation. They breezed through catalogue highlights like ‘Autumn Sweater’ and ‘Decora’ and returned to ‘Ohm’ to fully breathe life into its sunny feedback trails before settling into an incendiary ten-minute finale with sheets of noise cascading over each other, constantly cresting before bursting through to ecstatic new heights. They returned for an encore, chatting up the audience and offering a gorgeous rendition of ‘Moby Octopad,’ a personal favourite, and then answered a fan’s vocal requests with their cover of ‘Griselda,’ closing on a note of warmth and generosity that their audience carried off into the brisk winter night.




snow mantled love London’s own Snow Mantled Love is more than just a pretty sound. This websavy group has created a diverse and dedicated following taking advantage of the connective power of the internet. Equal parts bittersweet and atmospheric, the trio’s sound is an intimate experience all its own. This immersive sound is anything but a happy accident. Made up by Jonathan Zarola, Danielle Fricke, and Perry Hammoud, the band wanted to focus on a one-to-one experience with the listener. The band revealed that they started off their recordings with the idea of headphones or a stereo in a room. Instead of live

performances being their main goal, they shifted the focus onto the relationship that could be built between the solitary listener and the music. One of the ways Snow Mantled Love hoped to achieve this was through creating a strong online presence. By posting songs online, they could connect with listeners worldwide, and find a niche outside of their local scene. This strategy has paid off in more ways than one, says vocalist Fricke. “These social media outlets have been extremely important to our musical development. We use these websites to connect with listeners

on a global scale, and to participate in a community that generally cares for the music we create. It’s very humbling to have a sort of one on one experience with people who really appreciate what you are creating.” Inspired by the likes of Grizzly Bear, Sigur Ros, and Deptford goth, the band’s first EP Romance 126 is a first step in the development of a sound which is sure to be a force to be reckoned with. Throw on some head phones, lay on your bedroom floor, and let Snow Mantled Love take you away for a while.


dance dance revelation Earlier this year, CBC radio host Eleanor Wachtel interviewed Olafur Eliasson at his residence in Copenhagen, Denmark to discuss some of his most famous works, including The Weather Project, 2003. In this interview the portion I found most intriguing occurred during Wachtel’s mention of Eliasson’s reputation as a 2-time break dancing champion in the mid 1980’s. Though such a fact would seem irrelevant to his accomplishments, it was Eliasson’s conceptualization of break dancing as a form of expressive movement that I felt gave truth to his passion as an installation artist.

forms of dance is driven by the compulsion to utilize one’s own body as a sort of vehicle for which to engage a surrounding, physical space.

Eliasson argues that break dancing is unique by way of comparison to more conventional forms of dance. Ballet for example, “is very modern, it’s very autonomous” in that the underlying focus is to draw attention purely to the movement of the dancer. Meanwhile, break dancing addresses “the issues of the body in a context, in a spatial context.” For Eliasson, an interest in the more urban

Cirkelbroen, meaning “circular bridge” is a project commissioned by the Nordea Foundation to build a uniquely designed pedestrian bridge, stretching out 32 metres long and it is located on the Christianshavns Kanal in Copenhagen. In the interview, Eliasson states that his motivations for designing the bridge were initially centralized around the concept of shaping

It is this fascination with the relationship between the body and its surrounding space that I find is most reflective of Eliasson’s installation art. In a way, I would consider much of his body of work as a sort of response to this notion of the body becoming more aware of its environment. Wachtel addresses one of Eliasson’s more recent projects, Cirkelbroen, 2012.

an environment to extend the duration of time spent passing within that particular space. Eliasson explains that his interest in altering duration was to “slow down not to disappear or slow down to disconnect...but to slow down so that everything around you becomes even bigger.” For this artist, an act such as meditation, while subjective, is not a purely internal one and to do so is not an attempt to separate one’s self from their environment but rather to reconnect with it. Thus, Eliasson’s concepts on the functions of installation art and that of urban dance can be regarded as different ends of the same spectrum. He views break dancing as a way to draw out the relation to one’s physical space through the movement of the body. Meanwhile, it is in his large installations that he redesigns physical space to directly impact the way in which one moves throughout it.




blood, beasts, and the down under: allyson mitchell at uwo Allyson Mitchell is an active artist and cofounder of the Feminist Art Gallery (FAG) in Toronto. Menstrual Hut is Mitchell’s contribution to Secret Stash: Accumulation, Hoarding and the Love of Stuff, an exhibition at the McIntosh Gallery, in London, Ontario. Mitchell spoke at Western University about her art practice and FAG on Wednesday February 27th. Mitchell works with installation, sculpture and video. Her talk was engaging, funny and concise. Her own personal discourse unpacks issues revolving around queerness, fatness and feminism. She touched on these loaded but important topics with an undeniable sense of humour through personal narrative and the curation of a parallel world where the socially constructed norms that regulated our everyday never existed. Despite the witty presentation and acute engagement with identity issues, her ideas don’t translate to material form as clearly as might be necessary for the public to access the content or context of the work. The physical manifestation of Mitchell’s projects comes in the form of textiles and furry Sasquatch creatures. She attempts to reclaim femininity away from the stereotypical image of the pristinely groomed woman, the elegant archetype that she sees dominating the Western culture. In Ladies Sasquatch and Big Trubs females take on a beastly form


with enhanced breasts and butts. Despite the progressive intentions, the emphasis on these sexual features appears to oppress the appreciation of the female to a series of biologically necessary lumps and holes. Mitchell’s hairy creations turn females into animals, or beasts, and though it fights against the socially acceptable view of female perfection it also casts the woman in the position of the other, the creature to be examined from afar. Hungry Purse and Menstrual Hut create insulated textile environments evoking feelings of warmth and comfort. She associates her textile huts and caverns with an abject materialization of femininity. They take the form of the menstrual hut and the vagina, drawing the audience into the space with the appeal of safety but confronting them with fear, evoking ideas of vagina dentata, pussy imagery and anxiety as a product of the viewers forced and manipulated passage through the textile vagina. In the case of the Menstrual Hut, the title produces vivid and slightly disturbing imagery but in actual form and space the environment produces a completely unrelated effect. The relationship between the series of videos seems arbitrary; they range between playful, serious, absurd, and energetic. They relate in terms of narrative style but overall they do not share an overarching grand idea, leading the viewer to grasp at relations never fully deciphering or


relating to anything in particular. In the end, the audience is left with a textile hut, a series of videos, and a suggestive title, each with independent influential moments but lacking unity. Mitchell appropriates materials that have been associated with women’s work, confusing the potency of the feminist dialogue. This could have been an intentional re-appropriation in order to reclaim a stereotype imposed on women, manipulating it to effectively empower its past victims. Nevertheless, it seems likely that Mitchell is drawn to the craft and warmth for unrelated reasons, as she seems compelled to use it, not as the material punctuation to an idea, but as a source of inspiration for making in and of itself. Despite this, in experiencing Menstrual Hut, the overwhelming atmosphere of Mitchell’s artwork seems inclusive and open. They create places for embracing dialogue, and deconstruct expectations of the audience and the person, allowing each to exist in relation to one another with a degree of suspended judgment. Menstrual Hut created a safe haven within the pristine gallery where nothing was untouched, everything and everyone was collaged and while sitting in it, the societal hierarchy of professor, student, artist, woman, beauty and queer was dispelled.


an interview with dickson bou Dickson Bou has recently returned to London after completing his MFA at the University of Victoria. An alumni of Western University, with two undergraduate degrees, in science and fine arts, Dickson has installed a large scale sculptural work in the concourse of our University Community Center. I asked Dickson to offer some insight on the nature of arts vs. science, his intention with showing and viewing art work and how art inspires life and vice versa. And when you are wandering through our UCC, look way up and ponder. The beauty of his work is how it challenges the idea of space as we know it and interact within. Bou’s work creates a visual discourse dealing with how to navigate our experience of everyday places and space in order to discover something new or rediscover what might have been overlooked. Thank you Dickson for taking the time to share your ideas with us. How do you see your piece working in the UCC? I wanted these pieces to amplify the space. I didn’t want the work to overwhelm the viewer and over-power the space. I want the pieces to work with the space, because each side of each piece has a different shape; it asks the viewer to move around in the space to see the work at different viewpoints. The goal is to get the viewer to appreciate the work by moving around the atrium of the UCC. Hopefully this moving around will bring to surface the architectural uniqueness of the UCC atrium. The University Community Center is quite a large space and is outside the art gallery/presentation sphere – what kind of spatial constructions are you considering to use the area as a space for art? I read that you completed a BSC and BFA at Western, Do issues of science and art co-mingle within a space like the UCC when you create works such as this? How can this be articulated to students in all disciplines? These pieces are a bit less complex then my previous work. I toned it down because the UCC is a public space and the majority of the traffic going through are not expecting to be viewing art. When creating the pieces I was very conscious to not over-power the space, I feel the environment that I created with the work is as much about the space as the work itself. I’m interested in how people understand objects through the things we recognize. I find when people look at the pieces they immediately ask the question, “What is it?” and they begin to draw from objects they know and understand. The shapes I have chosen to make these sculptures out of are designed to keep the viewer drawing more and more objects. It is this type of object recognition our brain has that I am interested in. I guess this is the

science part of my work. In terms of disciplines I think this experience is universal, it just gets explained scientifically. Do you think that it will entice non-visual arts students on campus to seek out the visual arts on campus? How can we as a part of the visual arts at Western be more accessible to the general student population? I think public work has access to people who wouldn’t usually go see art. The seeking out part I think depends on the person and if that person got anything from seeing my work. How does your work differ when it is inserted into public spaces as opposed to private galleries or public art spaces? I try to make the work more accessible. You just have to keep in mind that most of the people that see it are passing through and that they are not there just to see the work. What excites you about returning to London after completing your graduate work in Victoria? Being close to family and friends is exciting. I also like the weather in Ontario, I like having four seasons. London and Victoria are very different. What lessons in art education and support have you encountered? I think the most important lesson was to experience a different art scene that’s on the West Coast and to learn when to have an open mind and when to stick to your guns. Learning how to filter things is important. Why is it good for Western’s alumni to stay in contact with Western? It’s always good to keep in contact with the people who are in the same line of work you are doing. For students studying the sciences at Western, what benefits are there to take up some visual arts education and vice-versa? I think it’s good for students to take courses outside their major. You learn different approaches and different ways to think and learn. It’s good to have more than one tool in your tool box. How can your work inspire other students to consider outside-the-box like possibilities with their own education? I hope to inspire people to not limit themselves in whatever they do. Being creative does not only apply to the arts. Thinking limitlessly will help in any field.





Grace wears a green beaded bracelet from Elysia Designs, handmade by Elle Bulger ($30)

Grace wears a cameo and butterfly beaded necklace from Elysia Designs, handmade by Elle Bulger ($40)

Ba-O-Ba I, Keith Sonnier, 1970; Ba-O-Ba VI, Keith Sonnier, 1970. Photo by Alexandria Petropoulakis




y introduction to Keith Sonnier’s show 68-70 at Mary Boone Gallery in New York was one unique to my usual gallery experiences. Being the last stop on a day which had been dedicated to as many of Chelsea’s numerous galleries as humanly possible, it is safe to say that my attention span was waning and my art palette was in need of some serious cleansing. Encountering an entrance room that was fairly crowded, I decided to forgo the opportunity to grab a brochure and instead went straight to the main show room, still unaware of the artist’s identity or even what style of work to expect.

Waiting for me on the other side of the wall was an open room full of light, reflection, neon and Plexiglas. There is something about neon that is at once arresting and mesmerizing, and the sculptural pieces were a welcome and rousing change to eyes that had been through a day of mostly paintings and photos. Truthfully, my experience with neon in the art world had been slim; Bruce Nauman’s better-known pieces were familiar, and I faintly remember encountering a work by Piotr Kowalski at the Pompidou Centre during the summer.



Identité n°2, Piotr Kowalski, 1973. Photo by Alexandria Petropoulakis

Still, instead of referencing these works first, my mind immediately wandered to places more unremarkable and common – the clothing shop I had just visited or the trendy restaurant I had recently eaten at. At the time, a mental note was made of the neon signs featured in both, with the aim of resonating as edgy and hip decoration. Perhaps due to this connection, I felt myself starting to dismiss the show as ‘cool’, ‘fashionable’, and not much else. As I moved throughout the space, a clear distinction became apparent between the two sides of the gallery. On the left were neon wall hangings, made up of vibrant yellows, tangerines and reds, which were organic in shape and resembled a strange growth in form. It was these works, such as Neon Wrapping Incandescent III (1970), which felt too ‘easy;’ the compositions were busy and overbearing, and with the hot neon colours the pieces stepped into the realm of kitsch. I was not alone in naturally gravitating towards the other side of the gallery, which featured large geometric shapes of Plexiglas paired with simple neon lines and curves. These works were leaning up against the wall rather than hung, to which effect their sculptural qualities were enhanced. It was these pieces, such as Neon Wall Slant (1968) or ones from the Ba-O-Ba series, that made me think twice about my initial assumptions of the show. By contrast, this group felt like they were trying to be something more than just flashy, attention-grabbing objects. It was clear that Sonnier was looking at the juxtaposition of the angles, length, and colour of each neon bar, which felt more considered than the former group. These pieces also emphasized the reflective qualities of not only the Plexiglas but the gallery setting as well. The reflection of each piece on the slick polished floor allowed the work to have a bigger presence, which extended into the viewer’s physical space, and secondly, the Plexiglas acted as a mirror for the audience to see themselves within each piece, literally and figuratively. Though the distinction between the two sides of the gallery seemed quite obvious, in reality the seven works from the show were all done within a three-year time span, between 1968-70, as the exhibition title suggests. It was in the 1960s that artists looked to experiment with industrial materials within their practice, and Sonnier was not the only one to develop an affinity for neon; Lily Lakitch, Chryssa and the previously mentioned Piotr Kowalski were all exploring the medium as well. Yielding similar results to Sonnier, Kowalski’s Identité n°2 (1973) plays with the conversation between geometry, reflection, and of course, neon. Probably the most celebrated neon artist, Bruce Nauman, is known for his mischievous way with words while masking his deeper concerns

with language and communication. When mixing text with neon, one cannot help but to reference its roots: businesses – often sleazy, sometimes not – trying to capture the attention of outside patrons. Therefore, Nauman’s neon dwells in quite a different world than Sonnier’s simplistic use of it. After leaving New York, my thoughts stayed with Sonnier’s show and I wondered about the current state of neon art in general. Since the work in the show dated over 30 years, I was eager to find out who, if anyone, was still making use of the medium; a good place to start seemed to be locating the origins of the piece which caught my eye in that recently visited restaurant. The work, titled Love Me Till I’m Me Again (2007), happened to be from Canadian artist Thrush Holmes, who boasts a handful of impressive neon pieces. Aside from a few works which read as flat one-liners, such as Still Life (2011), Holmes’ most recent work seems to really push against the boundaries and restrictions of the medium in a refreshing way. Especially compelling are the seamless neon additions to a large-scale painting in the bold 1 Up (2012). A recent review of neon and its place in the art world suggests that the medium’s kitsch associations are fading, and while I believe this sentiment can be said of Holmes’ work, fellow emerging artist Oliva Steele seems to miss the mark. It is clear that Steele, who mainly works with text, grounds her practice in current trends and popular culture. As with all neon, the eye is easily caught, yet the majority of Steele’s work fails to hold attention; her phrases, such as “Poor but Sexy” or “It was All a Dream” read as clichéd and unoriginal. From her use of religious imagery to Lady Gaga lyrics, Steele’s work is too much ‘fashionable’ and not enough ‘refined’. It is this sense of refinement that leads my thoughts back to the Sonnier show in New York, and more specifically his second group of sculptures. I realize that what I admire most about them is exactly what Steele is lacking—sophistication and simplicity. These qualities make the medium more effective, as it reflects a confidence within both the work and artist, as well as demonstrates a learned skill of restraint with the already flashy neon material. Opposite of many neon works, which can be received as intimidating or off-putting, Sonnier’s clear shapes and open forms invite the viewer in quite effortlessly, while the Plexiglas allows the viewer to get lost within the work and consider the relationship between real light, real life and what is reflected. Although this work was realized over three decades ago, Sonnier’s 68-70 comes across as fresh and relevant in relation to current neon art practices and the contemporary art scene.






ithin Western’s own Labatt’s Visual Arts Building, the Gallery Practices Class presents INSIDE/OUT, a show based on the recent revival of Mid-Century Modern architecture (1940s-mid 1960s) located in the heart of London, Ontario. From three-dimensional models of public and private buildings to virtual tours and words of architectural wisdom, Susan Edelstein’s fourth year class successfully examines the social and political implications of urban planning in an aesthetically engaging manner. During a post-WWII/pre-civil rights era, the need for a national solidarity was essential in order to rise up out of the Great Depression and pick up the pieces of a weak economy. Visual Arts—how it predicts social climates through an influence on architectural design—has always been a symbol of economic prosperity. From “Budgeting to Buying,” Bettina Liverant explains that when the National Housing Act was rewritten in 1944, “the bulk of the government’s reconstruction effort was geared towards bolstering exports and improving Canada’s foreign exchange position.” By supporting domestic manufacturers, the Canadian government was aiming to limit inflation and essentially limit class strife. The process of financializing capital in the form of mortgages actualizes a nation wide dream of home-ownership along with the security that accompanies economic independence. In turn, the public sphere and the private dwelling are stabilized. This surge in national reciprocity is the most evident in the settlement patterns that emerged during the 50s—better known as suburbia. For this goal to reach fruition it had to first originate in the home which, at this time, was centered on an ideology that a white picket fence and a “suburban housewife” meant success in actualizing the “American Dream”. Contributing to this consciousness are the quotes that dominate the circumference of the gallery. From “The Feminine Mystique”, Betty Friedan explains that the “[suburban housewife] was the dream image of young American woman and the envy…of women all over the world.” The introduction of suburbia was as much a call for national conformity as it was a symbol for the beginning of modernity. This can be seen in the models of private homes displayed in the exhibit. Lauren Boothby, who is a member of the Gallery Practices class, presents “The Bain House” model, which has a clear push towards modernity: geometric shapes, clean lines, simplicity, and functionality. Balance between the public and private spheres is an integral ingredient to a thriving society—a sentiment that was as much true for a Mid-Century North American society as it is today. INSIDE/OUT explores civic buildings such as London’s City Hall and aligns them with the private homes of individuals who dwell within the social protection of London’s long embrace. The gallery space and the scale of the models allow the viewer to examine structural details that they would not typically have access to. This juxtaposition is important because it creates a framework for the audience to visualize the impact state laws and social climates have on architecture and how the arrangement of the public sphere inadvertently establishes the domestic household. The revival of this modern architectural pattern suggests a call back to the need for social stabilization.



In the center of the exhibit is a to-scale retro living room set that represents a room in “The Baker House,” which has been extracted from a model built by Trish Norman—a student of Edelstein. A clear mesh material surrounds the living room. These semi-transparent walls exude a feeling of separation that isolates the area from the viewer. There are apparent influences by an artist named Do Ho-Suh who creates architectural installations completely of sewn, semi-transparent fabrics. Suh’s work draws attention to the way viewers inhabit the public sphere. Interested in the malleability of space in both its physical and metaphorical manifestations, Suh constructs sitespecific installations that question the boundaries of identity. His work explores the relation between individuality, collectivity, and anonymity.

Appropriation of the private dwelling is an integral element of INSIDE/OUT as it calls upon the “home” beyond the physical architecture. Much like the metaphorical qualities of Suh’s installations, the idea of the “home” is allencompassing as it connects the functionality of modern architecture with the home as an allegorical location. The home is where humans externalize their internal self. Much like the role of ideologies, the existence of the home unifies the human race because it, by definition, contains everything an individual desires at their most vulnerable state and therefore it is assumed to have the capability of circumventing the suppressive powers of social and political turmoil. Suburbia perpetuates this unification because every home within that community is defined by its community and homogenized based on proximity. To be at your home is to be in a state of belongingness: how subjects act in their home is different from their actions in the public sphere. This is what makes the home such a seductive point of reference for INSIDE/ OUT.


Although the building models and the living room set are intended to be an aesthetic reference for the audience, they also function to objectify their subjects through surveillance. Michel Foucault’s disciplinary power defines this process of surveillance as a panopticon: an all seeing, one directional surveillance machine. This one-way mirror effect of the living room set places the viewer in a position of superiority by emphasizing their capacity for mobility and their ability to examine the work as a subject, free of prejudice. Mobility is a privilege of the wealthy class because it empowers them over the current socioeconomic state of their country. Once a private room is presented in the public sphere the attitude to which it is approached is altered. A living room is a symbol for domestic comfort and familial relationships. Once it is removed from the home and placed in a public gallery, the space is separated from its intended purpose and redefined as an object for critical observation. It demands that its audience denaturalize the idea of the living room as a place of rest and ask themselves why their culture associates this space with the functionality of their family dynamic. The Gallery Practices class presents a well unified, thought provoking exhibit that both challenges the social and political implications surrounding architecture while also calling upon major themes regarding public and private living patterns. How the private dwelling and the public sphere orient each other and why it is essential, for the development of a culturally and economically prosperous society, to establish a balance among the two. Architecture is one of the few aspects of North American culture that require the hand of both engineering and the arts. Architecture is a symbol of our necessity for both.



Art Masquerading as Real Life

Installation shot of Pretty Vacancy by Michael Davidge at the Swamp Ward Window, 2012. Photo by Jocelyn Purdie.


written by KASIA KNAP n May 12th, the Xcurated Curatorial Collective staked out locales throughout the city of Kingston for Art in Public Places Kingston. An effort on behalf of the city to bring contemporary art to the general public, six site-specific installations from three local and four national artists were integrated into the urban landscape. Site-specific artwork is what its term implies: art made for a specific location in mind. The intention of the work is to draw critical attention to a site while simultaneously altering the space itself by its very presence. In the case of Art in Public Places Kingston, the artwork offered passersby an intriguing window into contemporary modes of visual representation, but could also appear largely foreign for those unfamiliar with contemporary artistic discourses. Seemingly indigenous to their environments, most works blended too well with their surroundings; the banality of their infrastructures eluded suspicion, yet closer scrutiny warranted further investigation and reward.

The most successful projects were the residential neon sign of Michael Davidge, the billboard ‘ads’ of Catherine Toews and the tent sculpture of Robert Hengeveld. Hanging in the Swamp Ward Window—a porchfront gallery on Bagot Street—was Michael Davidge’s Pretty Vacant. A throwback to the Sex Pistol’s hit song of a similar name, the glowing yellow and pink words imitated the appearance of a sleazy motel vacancy sign. Out of place on a residential street but not uncommon in the general area, the neon lettering imposed a strange attraction-repulsion quality to the gallery window. Catherine Toews’ Ingenue and Studies likewise hid in the topography of the city, mimicking the appearance of a typical fashion ad as represented on a billboard on Taylour-Kidd Blvd. The sketches of women in the images show the characteristic loose brushstrokes that frequent mock-ups of designer collections. The only element absent from the ad was a logo, but the chances of a typical driver catching this are slim in a casual drive-by situation. At Lemoine Point in west Kingston, a crimson tent appeared extraordinarily banal nestled amongst long grass, a tall tree partly obscuring it from view. It did not garner a second glance from most people, its mundane exterior analogous to its surroundings. Coming around to the front of the tent, nothing appeared out of the ordinary, until the green nylon stalactites hanging from the tent’s roof came into view. This fabricated cave-tent feigning to be a camper’s dwelling place was Robert Hengeveld’s Into



the Wild. There was nothing spectacular aesthetically about it. Many people likely walked by without thinking much of it, and that is where part of the genius lies in this Hengeveld piece as well as the other works in the APP show. The curatorial mandate for the exhibition put heavy emphasis on the term “spectacle” for the month-long exhibit. One or two works maybe achieved this, or at least in the conventional understanding of the idea. Millie Chen and Warren Quigley’s Greenroom stopped pedestrians in their tracks. Sitting on the flat limestone bed of the construction site for Anna Lane Condominiums was a life-size rendition of an all-green hollow fibreglass living room, a satire of the trend to go green in the corporate world. The fenced-off vacant lot is a well-known site in Kingston, and the sudden appearance of the sculpture looked like a clever advertising strategy for the future condos. Also appearing under this guise of an advertising ploy was Steven Laurie’s Donut Machine, stationed at the south entrance of the Cataraqui Town Centre. Pretending to advertise a comical machine built for no apparent purpose other than to repeatedly ingrain skid marks into the ground, the work underscored a noncompliance to adhere to set expectations of usefulness and aesthetic criteria for art. What these works share in common are their continued disguise as facets of everyday life until the viewer begins to question their presence in the space, and that is when they transform into something different. For the duration of May and beginning of June, APP acted as a kind of mild guerilla intervention into the Kingston geography. Through its subtly critical augmentation, the site-specific exhibition focused attention to diverse areas of the city that are taken for granted and overlooked despite their high traffic nature. Integral to the exhibition was the reciprocal relationship required between the art piece and the audience. The work had to first intrigue the viewer, but then it was the responsibility of the viewer to interact critically with it, and only then was a fruitful dialogue able to take place and the intention of the art piece realized.

Particularly enjoyable about the exhibit was the initial uncertainty that came with viewing most of the pieces.

the works inhabited a curious boundary between artifice and reality, most pretending to be expected parts of an everyday cityscape, but with something not quite right.

The tour of the projects vaguely began to take on the feel of a Where’s Waldo game: a search for artworks that did not look like artworks. Accordingly each piece began to have a subtle undercurrent of irony and humor, and you were able to tap into this once you were in on what was going on. One work, however, was disparate from the others: Shayne Dark’s Free Form in Blue at the Pump House Museum. The mammoth royal blue bird’s nest of coated split planks perched precariously in a tree, lacking the dual identity assumed by the others. The most literal actualization of the exhibition’s manifesto, Dark’s piece made a visually loud statement that questioned the at times ambiguous difference between man-made structure and natural formation.

The general public’s appetite for increased exposure to contemporary art became verified by the media attention the exhibit received locally. Many of the topical articles about the show, however, delved no further than a physical description of the works, indicating a lack of criticism from the general public. Dark inadvertently approached this issue from another perspective when speaking about his piece on the last stop of the Art in Public Places tour, offering the public a first step towards criticality. Is what you are looking at art? Even if you know nothing about artistic discourse, this is a question anybody can ask. The hope, however, is that it does not plateau here, but serve to prompt further questioning.




the art of Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky written by JAG RAINA


honda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky have been making their mark on the Canadian art scene for nearly a decade now. The San Francisco and Vancouver-based duo first met in 1996 while attending graduate school together at the University of British Columbia and have been collaborating professionally since 2004. On my recent trip to the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH), I had opportunity to see their work once again. Having previously viewed the duo’s work at the Barroco Nova Show during the fall of 2011 at the ArtLab Gallery, I was very excited to come across their work again and was just as impressed the second time around. I got the opportunity to conduct a short interview with Mahovsky to learn more about this particular work.

Named after John Ford’s 1956 classic Western, The Searchers, Mahovsky explained to me how they drew inspiration from the film, a story loosely based on the real life events of a group of men thrust together in search of a missing girl. For the artists, The Searchers was about asking questions that signified themes of racial, national and familial bonds, and humanity’s desperate desire to find a place in this world. It was these notions of belonging, searching, and watching that seemingly found their way into the artists’ works. A surge of energy struck me when the complex relationship between the viewer and the piece suddenly became present. The five human-like figures were seated placidly against a white high ledge, peering down at the viewers from their lengthened height. The meticulous way the artists had these figures seated immediately created an interesting tension for me as I observed while silently walking past. I was compelled to continue to stare up above at the sculptures and by doing so, subtly found the interaction between the viewer and artwork to develop even more. The distance between each of the sculptures almost became a sort of voyeuristic journey as my walk continued, with a sudden abruptness at the end. I was eager to address this spiritual experience that had occurred to me while observing the space around The Searchers and quickly asked Mahovsky about just how crucial the space around the work truly was. Mahovsky explained to me how they wanted to create a piece that invited viewers to explore his or her understanding of how public space functions in an artwork—an endeavor clearly evident in this work. Mahovsky talked about this idea of a silent intercommunication and a nostalgic familiarity we attach to the piece, with loneliness being an emotion that is so ever present in it. The way the figures have been marooned as if they are displayed on a sort of island atop of the wall shows how art can make comments on the world. The longing and loneliness that resonated from the figures created this powerful and stimulating feeling of titillation. Originally made for the Kelowna Art Gallery, The Searchers was previously installed outside, looking down from all sides of the courtyard, drawing attention to a social space of a gallery. When placed inside the white, gaunt hallways of the AGH, those feelings immersed once again with the strategically placed sculptures leering and gazing from on top of the ledge. Within these fragmented moments, whether it is the feeling of people watching or the act of being watched in public settings, further allows the sculptures to exert its presence over the space below.



The Searchers, Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky, 2010. Photo courtesy of the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

For Weppler and Mahovsky, the presence of the sculptures were also meant to be understood as a group in tension, a group that almost comes together as a single entity but never truly does. The artists speak about these moments in their work on both a physical and conceptual level. It was quite clear to me as a viewer that each figure was vibrating and projecting its own alluring persona. Mahovsky spoke passionately about this tension with me, and how wanting to allow the sculptures to each belong to their own social milieus was integral in making the work be understood. Whether it was the apparel that adorned the figures or colours chosen to represent the pigment of the skin, every miniscule decision was vital and played into full affect when creating the five works. Race was another factor that was thought of as further heightening the unfathomable presence of the figures and allowing them to truly be adhered to their own. Yet the ambiguous feel to the sculptures was still evident with ideas of race and gender remaining questionable. Did the application of the colour pink on one figure truly mean that he was meant to be Caucasian, and did the application of grey skin to another figure mean that his race was something else? All these ambiguous questions were part of a successfully used tactic in order to add a cryptic layer to the piece. This added depth further heightened the sexual tension and desire that surrounded the piece as my observations for it became more complex. Known for their eclectic use for always drawing from a range of different materials when constructing their work, The Searchers proved to be another venture into intense sculptural experimentation for Weppler and Mahovsky. Learning about the construction of their sculptures was something that I was very intrigued to know more about and was adamant in addressing Mahovsky with questions about the kind of process that was used. Polymerized gypsum—a special kind of plaster—was what the artists used when constructed the figures, placing them on metal armatures and coating it in highly saturated sign-painters’ paint. The decision to keep using the same type of material for each figure, allowed the figures to be similar yet also subtle in the smallest of ways. Helping to create a “barnacle” kind of look for the sculptures not only made the physicality seem even more visible, but further enhanced this mimicry of mockery that resonated from the figures onto the viewers. Bright, tacky colours and bizarre outfits as well as bodily expressions made me somehow feel as if I was the one on display, and I was the freak inside the white gallery space. Their faceless expressions seemed riddled with a sneering and questioning motive heightening that feeling of them assessing and judging the scene. It seemed as if those emotions seeping into the faceless sculptures further personified themselves and allowed to make mimicry of mockery and project it onto myself as a viewer. Weppler and Mahovsky’s ability to draw from so many different influences of street culture, film and architecture was evident with this work. Whether it was through the positioning of the figures, expressive body language or the scale, these subtle decisions that Weppler and Mahovsky made successfully unveiled the influences they drew from. The piece allowed me to see how their influences had been strategically projected onto the sculptural figures, making them seem even more human and sinister. The ideas of voyeurism, desire and loneliness manifesting through The Searchers showed just how compelling the work truly was and successfully reflected a dynamic collaborative duo at the height of their powers.




Luke wears pin-stripe shirt and navy one button shawl-collar tuxedo jacket, stylist’s own


Cole wears suede brogue lace-up boots, navy tuxedo pants, vintage gold watch, and grey polo sweater, stylist’s own



Luke wears forest green knit turtleneck, tan cotton crop pants, and calfskin penny loafers, stylist’s own

Luke wears forest green knit turtleneck, stylist’s own




Luke wears navy cotton trench coat and grey scoop-neck t-shirt, stylist’s own


Luke wears Japanese raw denim jeans, brown leather belt, calfskin penny loafers, pin-stripe shirt, navy one button shawl-collar tuxedo jacket, and floral cotton pocket square, stylist’s own. Cole wears suede brogue lace-up boots, shambray tuxedo shirt, scoop neck sweater, and navy tuxedo pants, stylist’s own

Cole wears MacIntosh lambskin jacket, brown leather belt, contrast-collar shirt, tan cotton crop pant, suede brogue lace-up boots, and denim duffel bag, stylist’s own Luke wears navy cotton trench coat, Japanese raw denim pants, grey scoop-neck t-shirt, calfskin penny loafers, brown leather watch, and brown leather brief case, stylist’s own




hen ASAP Rocky wrote “Peso” in 2011, he would have been hard pressed to know that when he rapped “clothes get weirder” it would perfectly encapsulate the direction and future of menswear. This is exactly where men’s fashion is going. Americana and the heritage trends that have dominated menswear for years are slowly dying out. Menswear is evolving into something that is increasingly obscure, with accessibility (both in price and availability) getting farther out of reach for the average person. The paradox of this is that it’s the average person—with their countless re-blogs across a variety of platforms—that is pushing fashion in this direction. With the advent of different forms of social media, most notably Tumblr and Instagram, anyone, anywhere in the world has the ability to either start or contribute to a trend. Gone are the days of a meaningful select few who had so much influence on what men were wearing. Trends are now in the hands of pretty much anyone who has access to a computer and/or a smartphone. What made the difference ten years ago were people like Hedi Slimane at Dior. Slimane revolutionized the entire silhouette of menswear by making everything tailored and slim fitting. This was supposed to be a ‘timeless’ look that men’s fashion was going to embrace for a very long time—and one man ultimately started it all. Ironically, the very people who purported it for so long are deconstructing Slimane’s silhouette. Menswear has essentially reached a point of stagnation and no one wants to see the same heritage wear, the same suit and tie combo, and the same v-neck sweaters anymore. Instead, the bold looks of designers like Raf Simons and Rick Owens are popular in men’s fashion today. While these designers used to be fringe niche markets for men’s fashion consumers, they are growing bigger and bigger every single day. Everyone from Pusha T to Justin Bieber is draped in avant-garde designer labels, everything from ultra expensive Comme des Garçons branch Junya Watanabe to Balenciaga. In response to this, even traditional heritage designers are becoming more eccentric. With everyone calling for a break from ‘the norm’ that has dominated men’s fashion for too long, trends such as camouflage are starting to come to the forefront. Once a streetwear phenomenon, camouflage can be seen as a major trend this season in both high fashion houses Dries Van Noten and Phillip Lim 3.1. Camouflage has continued to pick up momentum from the everyday blogger, and ultimately has made its way to the runway. Though the brilliant creative minds at European high fashion houses may not be controlling the direction of menswear anymore with the average everyday blogger taking the lead, its inaccessibility to the average consumer does remain. Fashion is getting more and more out of reach as it gets more and more obscure. The cumulative affect of all this is that men’s clothing is being pushed into a more creative, avant-garde realm with every click of a button.





from PAPER DOLLS to LENA DUNHAM written by EMILY FISTER Image by Alice Kim

“Make a paper doll.” When you’re in the last term of your undergraduate career, head heavy with years of panopticon theories and Marx-isms, an assignment like this is divine intervention. “But,” the professor warned, raising a slight finger with unwavering emphasis, “make it a gender-neutral paper doll.” Out of all of the tests in academia, this one in fashion art history challenged me the most. As marketers, we were to create an appealing and consumable paper doll that was appealing to any gender and any sexual orientation. By seeking inspiration from the gender-bending designer greats, like Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, the class was called to produce patterns and shapes that did not signify male over female; nor female over male. When the project was returned, the professor explained that we didn’t fully get the concept. Our dolls should have been ungendered not only in terms of dress, but also in terms of body. Staring at our flimsy cardboard cutouts, most of the class had drawn blank figures that, consciously or unconsciously, suggested a female form. Yet, she stressed, what mattered most was a gender-neutral body on which to place the clothes—an ambiguous slate uninhibited by mediated stereotypes. Glancing around at the predominantly female class, I thought something strange and enticing. How does the body perform androgyny outside of a fashion framework? Androgyny is consistently defined as neither clearly masculine nor clearly feminine in appearance. And its focus is horribly misrepresented in the commercial fashion world. The 2013 international Fashion Week scene has seen androgynous trends from New York to London, from Rachel Comey to Victoria Beckham. But this aesthetic is not as simple as a female donning a pixie cut, complete with an oversized “boyfriend” cardigan and tailored pants. After all, if a male wore a tunic with a “girlfriend” cardigan, he’d hardly be called androgynous. More than likely, fast fashion junkies would immediately peg him as “effeminate.” Being “androgynous” is signified beyond style. And any great undergraduate knows that gender is performance—one that could even be skin deep.

Lou Lorentz, a writer based in London, Ontario, identifies strongly with androgyny as non-gender specific. A bisexual female, Lorentz asks that friends use gender-neutral pronouns of the “they” variety when referring to them in conversation. In their mind, typically “gendered” styles should be flexible and a dialogue of fashions.

What I feel is great about androgyny is that it can’t be defined by anybody,” they say. “When it comes down to it, it’s simply a style that chooses to challenge traditional male and female wardrobe choices. Which is something I personally choose to do everyday.



Lorentz admires British comedian Noel Fielding for his unconventional male style. “My favourite nod to androgyny comes from Fielding, who challenges traditional male gender roles. [He] wears makeup, skirts, dresses, sparkles, is flamboyant, [has] high cheekbones.” When the clothes are stripped away, is the person performing androgyny still androgynous? Katherine Murdick, a Fashion Studies masters student at the University for the Creative Arts in London, England, believes in the act of performance—through style and through gesture. “I think in popular society androgyny is predominantly seen as a sense of performance art—one which falls within the realm of fashion,” she says. “I feel it is more of a movement which is being perpetuated through performance. Androgyny is a form expression.” Our talk turns to Lena Dunham, the ‘Jill of All Trades’ behind HBO’s hit series Girls. Controversial and raw, this writer-director is the self-proclaimed voice of a generation. Whether she’s running around town braless in a questionable mesh tank top or hooking up with a 40-something doctor, Dunham’s protagonist Hannah is an unabashed blast of “anti-feminity.” She’s nude in almost every scene, curvaceous and flawed and beautiful in every way that Hollywood isn’t. Like any publication in the know, The Globe and Mail has reported on Girls from every journalistic angle. Is it racist? Is it an authentic snapshot of our unemployed gen Y “20-schlumpthings”? Most importantly, is it all just one big indie rock soundtrack/nail polish collaboration cash grab? In a February 14th column, writer Ian Brown recounts his awkward Girls viewing experience with his 19-year old daughter. The teenager explains to the uneasy father that Hannah behaves like a man, and she’s completely unapologetic about her “atypical” actions. “Men blithely shed shirts and shorts regardless of how hideous we look,” Brown writes. “But on Girls, women do it too. On Girls, the women also behave like insensitive louts a great deal of the time, and the men are often the insecure, hurt ones.” What critics like Brown suggest is that there is no distinctly male or female notion of sex on television. Today, Dunham defies all mediated female stereotypes—she’s impulsive, brash, and promiscuous. Yet, she and her partners are still undeniably vulnerable. What Girls has demonstrated, through role reversal of clothes and behaviour, is that the act of sex itself is ungendered. Heck, it may even be so ambiguous to our consumer eyes that it would be called androgynous. “[Dunham] takes a term like ‘androgyny’ and showcases it as a deeper form of expression,” Murdick explains. “Rather than expressing androgyny as a cosmetic showcase of aesthetic style, she expresses the ungendered. She evens the playing field as a lifestyle—one which she is proud to showcase to the world, therefore breaking down stereotypical boundaries.” Lorentz agrees. “What I find interesting about Lena Dunham is that she chooses to find herself in a less female role in her personality. [It’s] almost as though an online personality test might guess first that she’s male… and that’s interesting. Her demeanor can’t really be defined by gender roles.” Looking back at that assignment, I wish I’d styled my paper doll in a soul-bearing mesh tank. Androgyny is performance. It’s clothed and unclothed, defined and undefined, and for an audience real or imagined. Dunham displays vulnerability in a multi-gender sense—one that transcends any association with any gender. And, most importantly, it’s a performance that warrants dialogue about challenging aesthetics. Perhaps Lorentz says it best. At the end of our conversation, they cite a cheeky Fielding quote. “I am the ‘confuser’—is it a man? Is it a woman? I’m not sure that I mind.”






Christianne wears a wolf-print cotton shirt, grey belt with lime green detail, black leather jacket, dark green beanie, stylist’s 15 own



Christianne wears a brown plaid virgin wool Surey skirt from Mesh ($15), wolf-print cotton shirt, sheer tights, grey belt with lime green detail, black leather jacket, dark green beanie, black suede platforms with clear plastic base, stylist’s own


Christianne wears a rust brown sweater, black cotton shorts, sheer tights, black cotton gloves, and lime green chain necklace, stylist’s own




Lucas wears floral cotton shirt, silver and gold stud collar black leather jacket, grey sweat pants, black tuque, and black boots, stylist’s own


Lucas wears white cotton shirt, faded jeans, blue plaid shirt tied around waist, mud green coat, grey tuque, and black boots, stylist’s own Kyle wears white print cotton t-shirt, jean shirt, black jeans, black overthrow, black tuque, and black boots, stylist’s own


Kyle wears a dog print shirt, dark jeans, black leather jacket, and oversize red plaid scarf, stylist’s own Christianne wears a plaid shirt as a dress, black sheer kimono, faded skinny jeans, maroon knit beanie, spiked metal crown, and brown military boots, stylist’s own

Christianne wears a black leather Cosa Nova jacket from Mesh ($29), Banana Republic plaid shirt tied around waist from Mesh ($12), white cotton bralette, faded jean crop jacket embellished with earrings, and two-tone skinny jeans with zipper detail, stylist’s own Lucas wears white cotton shirt, faded jeans, blue plaid shirt tied around waist, and mud green coat, stylist’s own

Lucas wears white cotton shirt, faded jeans, blue plaid shirt tied around waist, and mud green coat, stylist’s own Kyle wears camouflage shirt, jean overalls, black leather jacket, and cream tuque, stylist’s own Christianne wears a rust brown sweater, black cotton shorts, sheer tights, black cotton gloves, lime green chain necklace, and black canvas backpack, stylist’s own

Christianne wears plaid scarf, mud green coat, and sunglasses, stylist’s own








written by JENNIFER LORRAINE FRAISER n 2012, Holt Renfrew celebrated its 175th birthday. A company that once was the royal furrier of Queen Victoria, has been offering a consumerist utopia of lifestyle over function ever since the first hat was sold by founder William Samuel Henderson in 1837. This spirit of being a part of the in crowd; the jet setters, royalty, wealthy divorcees and fashionistas, has been the glue to keep Holt Renfrew vibrant and functioning on a level above the other department stores in Canada. Today, Holt Renfrew offers luxurious quality goods over throw-away fashion, or what the fashion crowd has been calling, ‘Fast-Fashion’. However, they have recently announced that they will be opening a new concept store, HR2 in 2013. HR2 will offer quality middle-level luxury articles of clothing and housewares. They are creating this offshoot of the Holt’s brand in order to build a stronghold against the American companies that are inundating the Canadian market.

Holt Renfrew has been known to offer clothing that is not offered elsewhere in Canada and with their new concept they will be continuing this trend . “In 1947, Holt’s had the exclusive rights for the Christian Dior Collection:” The New Look and later “the rights to the couture line by Yves St. Laurent.” By 1950, Holt Renfrew opened their Edmonton store , and my story begins here circa 1985. The day my Mum brought home my first (and second) Holt Renfrew purchase, was a day of great joy. It came to me as a navy blue hint of what was available in the world, far from my messy joggers and scraggly sweaters. With this coat, I was offered a piece of fashion heaven. The double velvet lapels and the cinched in waist enabled me to imagine what life would be like as a woman of prominence. It was the most revered article of clothing hanging in my closet. This Holt Renfrew branded, navy blue button up coat, quilted in a delicate envelope, offered a sliver of what the world was like outside the co-op housing complex we lived in. It elevated my already vibrant imagination to the possibilities of the unknown. In “Worn Worlds: Clothes and Mourning and the Life of Things”, Peter Stallybrass discusses the containment of memories within articles of clothing. To him it was through an experience with the jacket of his deceased friend that he discovered how clothes affect memory. For me it was when I opened my sister’s closet door and saw my childhood coat hanging there in silent contemplation. The memories associated with wearing this coat are some of my most cherished. My most vivid memory of wearing this coat is being carried out of midnight mass one very cold Christmas Eve. Waking up in my Dad’s arms and while he gently placed me down into the snow in order to pry open the frozen car door. This coat was a part of a spiritual journey when I would wear it, one both physical and imaginary. As Sarah Hampson exclaims, Holt Renfrew is considered a ‘Place of Worship,’ this coat was mine. The coat in question also holds my sister’s memories, for she too found herself wearing it for a few Christmas eves. However, these memories stand silent in each other’s individual memories. By handing down my prized wool coat to my sister, I shared with her the delicate childhood memories I kept within myself. “First clothes have a life of their own. They are both material presences and they encode other material and immaterial presences.” This coat had a fabulous life within Holt Renfrew – it may have been tried on by numerous children before it came home to me. To me it became an almost imaginary, and fantastical object, only to be worn on special occasions. It then became my sister’s dressy coat. “The image of cloth,” as according to Stallybrass, “is that it receives us: receives our smells, our sweat. It is also a container for memories.” This coat is ours.



VOLTA: [vohl-tuh, vol-; It. vawl-tah] In literature, the volta, also referred to as the turn, is the shift or point of dramatic change.

Profile for VOLTA Magazine

Volta Magazine S/S '13  

Fashion and culture magazine based at UWO, London, ON.

Volta Magazine S/S '13  

Fashion and culture magazine based at UWO, London, ON.

Profile for voltamag