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Adad Hannah: Mirrors that Conceal

Adad Hannah Sitting in the Great Hall 2008

Mirrors distort and amplify reality. In art historical traditions, this reflective value adds a layered complexity to two-dimensional pictorial space, opening the expected static imagery of painting and photography to limitless new perspectives and interpretations. For conceptual art, most notably in the two-way mirror work of Dan Graham, the mirror is also a symbol of power acting as a kind of barrier that purposefully deflects and conceals truth and meaning.

Montreal artist Adad Hannah’s exhibition “Reflections” engages both of these reflective models. Hannah is best known for his Stills, an ongoing series of illusive video tableaux vivants where the slight movements of his statically posed figures capture the subtle tension of what he calls the “uneasy space between movement and stillness, the recorded and the live.”

In his latest work, shot on location at Madrid’s Museo del Prado, Hannah inserts mirrors as devices to disrupt and reorient traditional notions of spectatorship. The photographs Sitting in the Great Hall and A Moment of Reflection depict a pair of museum visitors angling a mirror to “enter” the paintings on display. In another photo, The Dauphin’s Treasure, a cascading reflective view directs the viewer’s gaze beyond the foreground display case of antiquities to an infinitely receding blur of background objects. Hannah also gives a nod to the work of Graham, restaging the seminal 1975 work Performance/Audience/Mirror as a video that, in the form of his Stills series, poses surrogates for Graham and his audience in a motionless series of “faux photographs.” (372 rue Ste Catherine O #216, Montreal QC)

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