“Splice”, a new art exhibition that showcases the “intersection of art and science”, opened last Wednesday afternoon with a reception in the Blackwood Gallery.
All of the artwork in the exhibition explores aspects of the human body to present a snapshot of the foreign world that exists inside every person.
The plain walls and architecture of the gallery and the choice lighting from the spotlights complemented the artwork, which was a combination of detailed black and white sketches, photographs, and installations.
On the left wall of the gallery from the entrance, a series of mixed media, black and white sketches, and watercolours lead up to three colour photographs on black and grey backgrounds taken by Jack Burman. They all give one impression from afar, but a startlingly different one up close. The first photograph, titled “USA #5”, depicts a shallow facial section in formalin. From afar, the photo looks like a person’s disembodied, sleeping face; up close you see the small strings that hold it upright up in the glass case, and the air bubbles that cling to the skin. The second, “Austria #12”, looks from a distance like an arm still attached to a person, but up close you see the inside of the arm and the wrinkles and positions of the fingers, and realize it is, in fact, detached. The third, “Germany #3”, depicts a human head preserved in formalin. From afar, it could be mistaken for an ice sculpture of a sleeping man’s head, but a closer look reveals the hair, the wrinkles, where the neck ends, and other details.
On the other side of the exhibition is Joyce Cutler-Shaw’s installation “What Comes to Mind”, which features three mixed media “tunnel books”—that is, HD screens buried in a wooden box. The piece is made of these dark-coloured tunnel books set on a dark-coloured shelf, and is in dim light, especially compared to the spotlight that shines on Burman’s photos. Playing on the screens are captivating movies of brain scans.
Perhaps the most interesting piece of the exhibition is the silent performance by Khadija Baker, titled “My Little Voice Can’t Lie”. While Baker sits silently, a poem connecting the experiences of various women plays from speakers attached to the ends of Baker’s braids. By pressing the braids of hair to their ears, visitors can hear the poem.
“Splice” offers viewers a chance to view the human body—including parts of the human body they didn’t even know they had—in a way that draws them in without making them squeamish. “Splice” is free to the public and runs until December 1 in the Blackwood Gallery.