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Geoffrey Farmer, Utensils

Geoffrey Farmer, Utensils (2016), cut theatre backdrop [Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver BC, Jan 14-Feb 25] Courtesy of Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver. Photo: SITE Photography

Geoffrey Farmer: The Big Kitchen

Catriona Jeffries
Vancouver BC – Jan 14-Feb 25, 2017

It is hard to imagine how Canada’s entrant in the 57th Venice Biennale found time to prepare a discrete exhibition so close to his Canadian Pavilion installation this spring, but like most high-flying artists, Farmer is a tireless worker who thrives on pressure. For his current exhibition, the East Vancouver artist has employed a familiar strategy – but instead of cutting and remounting images from magazines, as he did with Documenta 13’s Leaves of Grass (2012), this time he is working with theatrical backdrops.

Like his Venice installation, Farmer’s current exhibition evinces an increased responsibility to the source of his materials and the individuals who made them. Here, information on the material origins of his work is disclosed through a dimensional shift that has the work not so much unfolding as enfolding, a gesture that is as much a theatrical reveal as it is an effort to balance aesthetics with ethics.

In Utensils (2016), Farmer took a contextual system used to bolster character and advance plot and removed from it objects that signify an area for food production. As implied in earlier Farmer titles like Finally the Street Becomes the Main Character (2011-2014), these background elements, once liberated from their starchy support matrix, are brought to the fore, where they curl into the third dimension.

Michael Turner

 Wed, Feb 8, 2017