Curated by Matthew Ryan Smith
November 12, 2016 - January 8, 2017
Opening Reception & Artist Talk
Sunday, November 13
The fascinating images presented in this exhibition are both autobiographical and politically significant. They are deeply personal in that most of the photographs were taken during visits to the hospital where Toronto based Jeff Bierk’s former lover was receiving treatment for serious illness, but he finds that they have also become complex representations of strength and renewal, layered with the sometimes mysterious power of the medical industry.
The photographs are aesthetically beautiful. Chiaroscuro renders the curtains as tactile, almost inviting, and brings to mind art historical references such as the rich drapery in paintings by Carravaggio; yet, considering that the sterile environment of the hospital they simultaneously dismiss the hand as a purveyor of sickness.
For Bierk, the curtain photographs represent a serious dichotomy of aesthetic beauty and emotional pain. They force him to confront the hospital environment, in which loved ones have been both nurtured and passed away; he is both comforted and haunted by the complexity of their meanings. Curator Matthew Ryan Smith is particularly curious about this dichotomy and about the process by which seemingly neutral, beautiful images gain emotional and political currency through lived experience and personal history.
A special project in partnership with McNally House Hospice is planned.