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Carol Sawyer, untitled study from Shadow Puppet

Carol Sawyer, untitled study from Shadow Puppet (2014), two-channel video loop [Republic Gallery, Vancouver BC, Jan 9-Feb 6] Courtesy of the artist

Carol Sawyer: Shadow Puppet

Republic Gallery
Vancouver BC – Jan 9-Feb 6, 2015

In her recent two-channel video loop, Carol Sawyer enters the frame and fastens pieces of cardboard and plastic bags to her body. She then enacts a series of gestures created for the wall on which her shadow is cast. A short time later, she removes her “costume” and exits.

As with most looping videos, the viewer is asked to look more than once. In doing so, his or her focus invariably shifts and new things get noticed. In Sawyer’s piece, what gets noticed in second viewings are not the shadows cast by the artist but her willingness to dishevel herself in order to make her art.

In Plato’s Republic, the philosopher is likened to a prisoner freed from a cave where the shadows are perceived as reality. But the lesson is not for the philosopher to remain among the enlightened, but to return to the cave and educate those imprisoned in it. What returns in Sawyer’s video is not the looped content, but a viewer recast in that ambiguous, and perhaps allegorical, role that exists between prisoner and philosopher.

Michael Turner


 Sun, Nov 9, 2014