Jean-Luc Nancy, Adoration: The Deconstruction of Christianity II
Opening reception: Saturday, February 18 at 8 PM
Reception sponsored by ATB Financial
“Nothing but an open mouth, or perhaps an eye, an ear: nothing but an open body. Bodies are adoration in all their openings.”
For Annie Martin the generative act exists at the thresholds of materiality and perception. She lingers in the ephemeral, taking notice of its minutia – the scanning movement of light across the surface of a page, or the incidental soundscape of a surrounding area – with these immaterial substances she creates artworks that allow for slower, deeper contemplation. Events such as marks, sounds, and actions are distanced from their original context through abstraction or repetition, creating a meditative space where an observer may embed narrative or meaning.
adoration, a multi-channel sound and painting installation, sees Martin elaborate on this practice while reflecting on notions of the sacred. Where does sacred experience re-emerge in a secular, materialist world? Can the particular qualities of the sacred be evoked in secular spaces? As in previous work, Martin employs Pierre Schaffer’s notion of the acousmatic – hearing sound obscured from its original source. In adoration, this source material comes from medieval composer, writer, mystic, and abbess, Saint Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard was noted for receiving visions; she can be considered a conduit for the intangible, a body translating knowledge from a sacred realm. The figure of Hildegard represents an analogous impulse for Martin, whose artistic practice has honed her sensory and perceptual acuity, in order to make tangible the underlying phenomena embedded in matter and site.
Imagining the space of the gallery infused with, and opened by sound, Martin distils the tones extracted from chants by Hildegard and uses this palette to invoke an extended moment of presence. In considering vocal sounds as immaterial substance within the installation, the ontological status of sound is brought to our attention. Is sound a material? Is a sound a thing? In adoration, Martin imagines painting the space itself with arising and dissolving lines of song.
Twelve paintings also line the gallery walls, their abstract visual planes drawing on phrases and themes within Hildegard’s oeuvre. Mirroring the body in scale and composition, their physicality punctuates the flowing texture of sound within the gallery. Akin to altars or shrines, they stand in service to the meditative or devotional act. In the tradition of abstract painting they evoke a higher state of consciousness, yet in adoration they also provide a sense of grounding, a place for the body in a space opened and transformed by sound.
Annie Martin’s practice traverses installation, sound, painting, drawing, textile, and performance. Her work has been exhibited widely in Canada, and internationally. Martin received her MFA from Concordia University in 1994. She is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Lethbridge.
Vocal material in adoration was developed in collaboration with Janet Youngdahl, Soprano; translations of texts by Erin Moure; and generous support from the Canada Council for the Arts, OBORO, and the Banff Centre for the Arts. This exhibition is organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and curated by Christina Cuthbertson. Additional funding provided by The Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the City of Lethbridge.