The World is Bound by Secret Knots: Emily Jan
January 11th – February 15th, 2019
Opening Reception: Friday, January 11th from 7 – 10 pm
An apologue is a moral fable or allegory, particularly one that uses animals as its primary characters. The World is Bound by Secret Knots is a series of ten life-sized sculptural works made of textiles, found objects, and secondhand silk flowers and greenery, which depict hybrid creatures assembled from Emily Jan’s experiences on a three-week residency in the Peruvian Amazon in 2015.
A kind of ecological antipode to the North, the Amazonian Rainforest represents for me the apogee of biodiversity and complexity. Whereas the web of life in the North is sparse but elegant, at Equatorial latitudes it is rhizomatic and impossibly tangled, an almost overwhelming cacophony of information for the natural historian and artist.
This bestiary of hybrid beings addresses both the ontological blur which exists between plant/animal/fungus and the temporal blur between living/dying/regenerating in such a dizzyingly complex place.The Apologues address that dissolution of boundaries between self and Other by reimagining individual species combining in hallucinatory and oneiric ways, as if they were the shifting thoughts of the rainforest itself.
EMILY JAN is a Montréal-based artist and writer. As a sculptor, she creates intricately crafted, hyper-realistic installations of found objects inhabited by flora and fauna that is hand-made out of wool, reed, cloth, silicone and resin. These environments, like enterable museum dioramas, mix elements of high culture with low culture, science with mythology, and history with current affairs. The creatures, wondrous and monstrous by turns, feel real but are entirely handmade. They are not taxidermy, but are emotionally believable to the point where they are often mistaken as such.
As a writer and illustrator, Jan creates artist’s books that amalgamate the lived research of a semi-nomadic lifeinto works that engage broader concepts such as the circularity of time, the richness of biological and cultural diversity, and the finitude of the planet. Her subject matter ranges in scale from the vast landscapes of the Alaska Range to the minute details of the museum specimen, and her book projects often run alongside her sculptural practice thematically.
In this age of mass extinctions and climate change, the importance of being able to envision places we maynever personally see, to hold space for them in our minds and in our hearts, is ever greater. To this end, the work both sculptural and literary ultimately seeks to transport some of that distant experience to the viewer – to stretch the boundaries of our collective imaginings in order to encompass the unseen, to learn to love the unknown as well as the familiar, and ultimately to strive to weave all these strands into a larger narrative about what it means to be a human living in a world roiling with turmoil and catastrophe but yet which is still mysterious and beautiful.
Posted December 17, 2018