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RBC Work Room Art Gallery of Alberta October 14, 2017 – February 19, 2018


DARA HUMNISKI AND SERGIO SERRANO — MONUMENT Dara Humniski and Sergio Serrano enter a near empty art gallery. It is mid October and for the next six weeks visitors to the Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA) will be able to observe Humniski and Serrano at work in a gallery that they have transformed into a working studio space. At the end of this period, towards the end of November, their active studio work will cease. The space will become static and a diverse array of images, objects and media – the evidence of Humniski’s and Serrano’s investigation into the concept of the “monument” – will remain on display until mid February. Humniski and Serrano will employ design methodologies to examine and interrogate ideas related to monumentality within the context of “tradition and ritual, artifact and archives, ruins, monuments, utopias and explore the areas between art and design, nature and technology, the real and the imagined, truth and fabrication, the familiar and the unknown.” [1]. Both Humniski and Serrano have established practices as professional designers. However, they have been equally active making artwork for display in solo and group art exhibitions, developing alternative projects for art galleries and public art commissions. Humniski and Serrano cross that dividing line between art and design freely and frequently and often reveal the forced or arbitrary nature of this division.

ABUNDANT ACCESSIBLE ADAPTABLE AESTHETIC AFFORDABLE AIR ARTIFACT ASH ASSERTIVE AVAILABLE BABIES BASIC BEAUTIFUL BIG BIRTH BLOOD BONES BREAD BREAST MILK BREATHING CEMENT CHAMELEON CHANGING CHARISMATIC CLAY COLOURFUL COMPASSION CONCRETE CONSTANT CRAFTED CRUDE

Serrano comments that, when designing for clients, he and Humniski are often required to communicate as directly as

CRUSTACEANS CUSTOMIZABLE DEATH 3


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possible. In contrast, this project will permit more ambiguity. Conversations with Humniski and Serrano reveal their intention to begin this project in an open manner, emphasizing potential over preplanning. They will be guided by their training as designers and the theme of this endeavor. “Monument” implies a certain real world weight, physicality and endurance but at this point, the project is ephemeral, more about ideas and social issues than bricks and mortar. For Humniski and Serrano, the concept of “monument” is a complex idea. Humniski points out that monuments can “warn, remind or advise”. Serrano echoes this, acknowledging the importance of a monument’s commemorative function but suggesting that smaller objects, events or actions can have a similarly profound mnemonic function. Both Humniski and Serrano reveal their deep concern about how things are remembered and recognized with planned commemorative structures or monuments that are created almost unintentionally. Humniski adds an additional timely concern about monuments: “who gets to decide the narrative of who or what we commemorate.”[2] As the project progresses, the room will begin to fill with objects, images and important reference materials. There are centrally located worktables and plinths along the wall that relate in size to the overall space. By the end of October the plinths are covered with bricks (real, full size and Lego), small scale models, paper, stone, tile, modelling clay and other sample materials. Humniski and Serrano often work in extremes of scale from diminutive or hand-held to larger public commissions. Humniski mentions her interest in the miniature art of contemporary Japanese artist, Takahiro Iwasaki. Serrano brings up a similar counterpart in comics and book design, American cartoonist, Chris Ware who is know for his stories

DECAY DIRT DISTANCE DRY DURABLE EARTH EGGS ELEGANT ELEMENTAL ENDURING ENLIGHTENED EPHEMERAL EROSION EVERLASTING EVOLVED EVOLVING EXISTENCE EXPANDING FIREPROOF FLEXIBLE FLOUR FLOWING FOG CLOUDS FOREVER FOUNDATIONAL FREE FRIENDLY TO THE ENVIRONMENT FUN GEOLITHIC GEOMETRIC GLASS GRANITE GRATITUDE 5


GRITTY HARD HIDES HONEST

and imagery but also his flexibility with regard to size and format of his published work. [3] Humniski and Serrano will similarly employ radical variation in size and scale, questioning the importance of monumental size to the monument.

HOPE HUMANITY ICE IMPENETRABLE IMPERMEABLE INDESTRUCTIBLE INTERLOCKING LASTING LIGAMENT LIGHT LIGHTWEIGHT LOVE LUMPY MAJESTIC MALLEABLE MARBLE MARKETABLE MASCULINE MASON MILK MODULAR MOLDABLE MOLDED MUD, MUD BRICK NANO NATURAL NEGATIVE SPACE OPAQUE ORGANIC PERMANENT 6

Notebooks, sketchbooks and written reference materials cover some plinths. Monograms on Ettore Sottsass, Superstudio, Droog Design, and Sol LeWitt sit next to essay collections that reflect on how memory, ruins, and nature are depicted in art. When asked about other artists, designers, writers and thinkers who have been important to them in this project, Humniski and Serrano provide an eclectic list. To those mentioned previously they add Thomas Demand, Vija Clemins, Ulises Carrión, Kees Dorst, Marcel Broodthaers, Irma Boom, Roberto Burle Marx, Tauba Auerbach, Jorge Luis Borges, Tom McCarthy, Leonora Carrington and others. [4] A bulletin board and the walls above two plinths are covered with lists on small bits of paper, images of works from the AGA collection and many post-it-notes that are an interactive component of this project. Humniski and Serrano have asked visitors to share their thoughts. Above one plinth, people answer this question: “Fill in the blank. We are living in an age of ______________.” Throughout the space we see Humniski’s, Serrano’s and gallery guests’ attempts to wrestle with ideas about material and ideas. “Choose five words that could be used to describe or define a universal building material that could be used at any time in history or under any style or movement.”, a small handwritten note asks. On the central table we see attempts to “Design a brick with more than (or less than) 6 sides, imagining it could be made out of any material”. One bulletin board list stands out. Humniski and Serrano


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PHOTOGRAPHIC PLASTIC PLEASANT TO LOOK AT PLEASING PLIABLE

list key words that have been recurring in their sketchbooks, notebooks and conversations about this project. A parallel list includes similar words that were used to search the collection of the AGA. These lists, along with vistor responses to questions, will remain in the show, somewhat catalogued, and will act as important entry points into this project.

POSITIVE PROTECTIVE PURPOSEFUL QUARTZ REALISTIC REFLECTIVE RELATABLE RELIABLE RENEWABLE REPAIRABLE REPLENISHABLE ROCK ROUGH RUIN SAFE SAND SANDSTONE SCALABLE SHARP SHINY SHY SIMPLE SINEW SKIN SKINS SLATE SLIPPERY SMOOTH 10

Humniski and Serrano know that words can only take them so far in this exploration. Much hands-on creative work will take place. Humniski’s and Serrano’s pervious work has taught them that “by creating we think”[5]. In Monument, Humniski and Serrano create and think in front of us. Humniski and Serrano reveal what transpires when thoughtful individuals act as facilitators, mediators or interrogators. They do this in a public gallery space rather than their private studio, workshop or laptop and they invite us to join in. Visitors to the exhibition will observe the blurring of boundaries between artists and designers, thinkers and makers, those exhibiting and those viewing exhibitions in public art galleries. Consistently, Humniski and Serrano demonstrate the value of giving time and space to our thoughts and memories. It is an essential feature of this exhibition and, by no coincidence, the function of all monuments. A monument is a marker for important historical or social events. It is a commemorative structure, purpose built for that function or an existing natural or human-made structure that is so strongly associated with a person or event that it fulfills that commemorative function. It can be architectural though it is often nonfunctional as conventional architecture. Humniski notes that when visitors answered their questions, the responses reflected “a general feeling of melancholia, negative reflection on social media (ignorance as well), desire


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for sustainable options, and a deeper call for love and hope (a bit quieter but still evident).”[6] In light of this, we might ask if monuments are still relevant. Humniski suggests, that monuments may become important to us as reminders of “what we have lost due to our own actions”[7]. Much of what is created in this room reveals, as Serrano puts it, the similarity between the words/ideas “monument” and “memory” [8]. Our flawed memories often need assistance, memory aids or mnemonic devices. We need reminders of who we are, where we came from and how we might fit in or contribute. A large granite obelisk or megalith, which will eventually weather and crumble, is one kind of monument. A humble artwork, made of paper and displayed on an art gallery wall is no less meaningful as a device we can use to focus time and memory.

SOFT SOLAR SYSTEM SOLID SPACE STAR LIGHT STARDUST STARDUST STONE STONE BLOCKS STRETCHY STRONG STURDY SUN SUPPORTIVE SUSTAINABLE SWEAT

Endnotes 1 RBC Work Room: Dara Humniski and Sergio Serrano – Monument. https://www.youraga.ca/exhibitions/monument. 2 Dara Humnisky and Sergio Serrano, email Correspondence with the author, November 14, 2017. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid. 5 Patrick Geddes quoted in “Leap Before you Look and A Note on Interdisciplinarity” by Murdo Macdonald, Professor of History of Scottish Art at the University of Dundee https://murdomacdonald.wordpress.com/ leap-before-you-look/ 6 Dara Humnisky and Sergio Serrano, email Correspondence with the author, November 14, 2017. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid.

SYMBOLIC TAUGHT TEARS TENSILE TIME TIME MACHINE TIME TRAVEL TIMELESS TOUGH TRANSFORMABLE TRANSLUCENT TRANSPARENT UTOPIA VAPOUR WATER WEATHERPROOF WOOD WORKABLE 13


Blair Brennan Blair Brennan combines his writing and art practice from his home in Edmonton. His sculpture, installation, collaborative performance work and drawing have been exhibited nationally in numerous group and solo exhibitions. Brennan has held diverse committee, volunteer and paid staff positions with various art galleries in Edmonton for more than thirty-five years. He has contributed writing to a number of national arts and culture publications. Dara Humniski grew up in Edmonton, Alberta and completed Bachelor of Design in Industrial Design at the University of Alberta in 2004. MASS (2011) was her first major gallery installation, hand-painted on site in Manning Hall at the Art Gallery of Alberta. Her work is included in the City of Edmonton’s Public Art Collection and Canadian Centre for Austrian and European Studies at the University of Alberta. She has shown in both solo and group shows since 2005. Humniski is a multi-instrumentalist with a diverse background encompassing fine art, industrial design and carpentry. Using the natural world as a starting point, she experiments with scale and media to assemble fictional worlds with openended narratives that express things about the human condition. She is also a founding member of the Loyal Loot Collective.

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Sergio Serrano is a graphic designer and artist born in Mexico, now based in Edmonton. He received a BA in and education. Literature and mythology are recurring themes in his artwork, which explores the narratives humans create in order to understand themselves and their place in the world around them. He works in print media and book works, creating images and objects that feel both familiar and unknown. His work also deals with the communication and transformation of these narratives in language, content and form. Serrano’s artwork was presented in Future Station: 2015 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art and he has coproduced public art commissions for the City of Edmonton Civic Art Collection.

List of Works Dara Humniski and Sergio Serrano Monument, 2017 Mixed media installation Courtesy of the Artists


RBC Work Room is an extension of the RBC New Works Gallery, which features new artworks by Alberta artists. This project series continues the Art Gallery of Alberta’s commitment to supporting the work of Alberta artists. Organized by the Art Gallery of Alberta. Presented with the support of the RBC Emerging Artists Project.

Š Art Gallery of Alberta 2017 ISBN: 978-1-77179-026-0 Editors: Leonore-Namkha Beschi, Laura Ritchie Design: Dara Humniski, Sergio Serrano Title Design: Charles Cousins Photography: Dara Humniski Essay: Blair Brennan Printing: Burke Group Printed in Canada The Art Gallery of Alberta is grateful for the generous support of our many public and private donors and sponsors, as well as the ongoing support of the City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Arts Council, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Cover Image: Monument (detail), 2017, mixed media installation. Courtesy of the Artists


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Dara Humniski and Sergio Serrano: Monument ePub  

A catalogue from RBC Work Room exhibition "Dara Humniski and Sergio Serrano: Monument". RBC Work Room is an initiative that supports the de...

Dara Humniski and Sergio Serrano: Monument ePub  

A catalogue from RBC Work Room exhibition "Dara Humniski and Sergio Serrano: Monument". RBC Work Room is an initiative that supports the de...

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