Factory Logic, a new large-scale installation by Lethbridge artist, Corinne Thiessen, presents a herd of marionette-like horses trotting obediently, systematically in place. Never stopping yet never going anywhere, their measured cadence soothes and pacifies, as we contemplate their endlessly looping cycle.
Honing a material language developed in earlier works, such as A Horse in Motion (2013) and Chronic (2015),Factory Logic uses a combination of natural and industrial material to create a fascinating and whimsical hybrid. Fashioning a series of tree branches with hinges that collapse upon impact with the floor, Thiessen ingeniously simulates the strike of the horses’ hooves. Four legs are secured to a geometric armature made of steel and copper pipe, and two 12-volt rotating motors perpetuate a lilting, cyclical motion.
It is in this methodic repetition that we encounter the absurd, a thread that runs through much of Theissen’s work. It calls to mind the myth of Sisyphus, the ultimate absurd hero. Both irreverent and impudent, Sisyphus is condemned by the Gods to ceaselessly roll a bolder to the top of a mountain, only to have it fall back on him each time he reaches the pinnacle. A tragic hero caught for all eternity, straining in toil, acutely aware of the futility of his struggle. And yet, he continues on. Camus writes:
“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again… The universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
Factory Logic is organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and curated by Christina Cuthbertson. Funding assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the City of Lethbridge.