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where the heart bleeds,

art seeds.

when it breaks,

art creates.

while it feels,

art heals.

our generation chants make love not war

make art, not war

make women bake tarts

make men work darts

protesting against the same injustice we emit,

we can’t see that more often than not,

we do not make art.

but art makes us.

 

So this is a poem I wrote a few years back when I was feeling rather confused about [ … ] well, life. Not much has changed since then. I am still looking for answers, but I know now that the answer is in seeking, never in finding. That being said, I walk into an art gallery and I find that Elaine Whittaker’s art probes a similar quest.

Is suffering essential for one’s art? Are we inspired by the things that destroy us? Does pain pave the way for creativity? I don’t know if my perception of life makes sense, or if it should, but in my experience, what hurts us the most in life does not hurt out art. It enriches it.

Elaine Whittaker’s exhibition “SHIVER” truly highlights the duality of everyday life and regards both pain and aesthetic pleasure as one entity rather than two separate poles. The series of 10 photographs show a masked woman carrying what seem to be an exaggerated and illustrative depiction of microbes. As if the incubator masked her soul. A form of metaphorical microbe, overwhelmed by the disease.

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An aesthetic in which art and science intersect.

Also, in light of the rise of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Elaine tackles an important matter that doesn’t seem to matter enough. The rusted graph of the Ebola Series are charts that show the rise of Ebola in countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone, compared to the status of Ebola on our continent.

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Art as a form of confrontation.

We feel as though we are disconnected from the disease because it hasn’t hit home yet. But what is home really? By separating us, borderlines have enslaved to ideals of pompous individuality, but in reality, we are all smaller parts of a bigger whole and we can either host the disease or fight against it together as one entity.

The exhibit can be looked at very poetically. The art embodies the disease it carries, or rather, the disease gives birth to certain aspects of it. Elaine’s work has a candid organic feel, yet holds such depth and awareness of the human condition. Again, poetic to say the least. The urban atmosphere of the building itself is perfect to host Elaine’s work. The gallery offers enough space to exhibit the work comfortably, yet is it intimate enough to capture the sense of profound urgency portrayed in her art.

“SHIVER” will be showcased at the Red Head Gallery (401 Richmond St) in Toronto until the 25th of April.

Oh-so highly recommended.

 

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