Gammon’s wall-mounted assemblages Salvaged 8 and the smaller Salvaged 16 resembled floating shelves sagging under the sheer weight of their accumulated detritus. These haphazard structures, which evoked housing for dolls, were configured from discarded drywall, cardboard and bits of wood. The models were almost impaled from below by single shelf brackets and precariously affixed to the walls. If this deliberately fragile engineering wasn’t fascinating enough, Gammon furnished her works’ interiors with a personal archive of images captured by fish-eye Polaroids and pinhole cameras. Viewers leaning close enough to catch a whiff of musty lath might have glimpsed a shadowy silver kitchen or a perfect miniature dining-room table—signs of life among the ruins.
Gammon’s allusions to a ransacked, remembered interior space were a wonderful foil for the Stacked Hotel Room series of Hanney and Dade. Their work stemmed from a game the artists have played together in European hotel rooms over the past decade. The object is to compactly reconfigure the contents of an entire room and create a photographic document or a video of the result before returning the fixtures to their original state. Talk about meeting in camera! Each of their seven medium-sized digital photographs centred on a set of standard hotel furnishings transformed, as if by the logic of the Rubik’s Cube, into a monolithic block. The room’s wallpaper and patterned carpet are robbed of their unobtrusive role and suddenly, disconcertingly exposed as a spectacle of blank decoration. The reversal of fortune does not remain a compelling mystery for long, however, as a DVD showing Hanney and Dade at work in a Birmingham hotel made a bit too didactically clear, but the misstep was minor.
McCormick’s juxtaposition of these two genuinely playful and distinctive approaches to sculpture and performance via photography initiated a formal dialogue too appealing to be simply categorized under the broadly employed monikers of multimedia and installation—a dialogue that seemed fresh and engaging, if at times also fugitive.
This is an article from the Summer 2007 issue of Canadian Art.