Aporia (Notes to a Medium)
Jenine Marsh, How to Fulfill a Wish (detail), 2023, cast bronze, coins, newspaper clippings, epoxy clay, powdered pigment, nails, acrylic varnish, polyethylene tarp, polymer-based mortar and rigid foam. Courtesy of the artist and Cooper Cole, Toronto.

Aporia (Notes to a Medium)

Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC - To April 14

by Michael Turner

“Aporia” is an unsettling word that has different meanings. In philosophy, it signals a paradox, an impasse; in rhetoric, a device used by a speaker to cast doubt on their argument, usually to lure in and defeat an opponent. Judging from the Belkin’s press materials, both meanings are used here to characterize our stressful present, “where faith in media, government and institutions is further collapsing, where binarization is on the rise, where expressions of doubt are tactical.”

Featuring nine artists – Colleen Brown, Azza El Siddique, Dani Gal, Katie Kozak and Lucien Durey, Mark Lewis, Jenine Marsh, Jalal Toufic and Elizabeth Zvonar – Aporia brings forward works that “contend with systems of belief and perception to trouble truth’s material (and immaterial) forms.” Some of these works involve oppositions (Zvonar’s mirror works), inversions (Lewis’ “day for night” beach film) and pairings (Gal’s historical news items juxtaposed with artist statements from the same time period), while others are literally more layered (Toufic’s palimpsestic portraits of scraped away Lebanese election posters), if not cloaked (Marsh’s wrapped fountains as sites of congress as well as wish-making) or hung from above, to approximate a sky (Kozak and Durey’s hand-dyed and marked bedsheets).

Although the potential for narrative abounds in most things we look at as viewers, the concept of narrative is central to Brown’s memory sculptures, where relations between “narrative and the tactile,” once enacted, do not seem so incongruous, while El Siddique’s installation “considers architectures of transformation and the instability of form to construct a narrative experience of a journey between this life and the next.”


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