12 September 2003 - 18 October 2003
Opening Reception 12 September 2003 8pm
For his first solo exhibition in Toronto, Massimo Guerrera will exhibit Porus an on-going project. Over three years Guerrera has produced and accumulated drawings, photographs and sculptures from monthly visits with a handful of friends, peers and acquaintances. In these, often one-on-one, meetings aesthetic objects become the impetus and markers for social moments or inversely, the social interactions generate new materials. At times Guerrera will leave an object (sculpture or drawing) in someone’s home to later witness documentation of its usage or its physical transformation. What we see in the gallery is the material assemblage of interactions — person to person and person to object.
Brochure Text What Remains Vague by Natalie De Vito
Kiosque Domestique en mode prédestination
Si vous avez envie d’adopter ce kiosque et toutes les matières palpables et impalpables qui lui sont inhérentes,
Téléphonez au 514 252 4234(1)
Massimo Guerrera’s advertisement for Porus gives no indication of what to expect.(2) This ambiguity is indicative of his practice in that it points to an inability to predetermine response or finality. Although he establishes parameters for the organization of his projects, he allows them the space to adapt to events and participants, and unfold as they will.
Porus incorporates drawings, photographs, texts, food, relationships, actions and objects. This metamorphosing and ongoing project that began in 1998 invites willing participants to adopt into their homes “domestic kiosks”—a term Guerrera uses to describe a piece of hybridized furniture or portable object. Often molded at the participant’s home, they are shaped with recognizable bodily impressions and forms, and are the primary agents and catalysts of the project Porus. One such sculpture began with the opposing hands of the artist and collaborator simultaneously turning and twisting a slab of wet clay. The finger- and handprint-marked clay now protrudes from a heavy, bone-white, polyhedron box, the ends of which transform into oversized ears.
Guerrera repeatedly visits the apartments and houses of both friends and strangers—foster homes—to develop and maintain a relationship between the temporary parent, himself, and the object. With subsequent visits, the objects’ form and function mutate. Each series of meetings continues for an undetermined time frame and varies from one collaborator to another, based on the openness or reticence of each participant and the developing relations. Each one relies on mutual trust, interest, desire, need and curiosity. Guerrera’s visits typically occur monthly, and several have lasted over three years.
The domestic kiosks, as well as drawings, circulate between the artist and participants, encouraging creative collaborations and performative actions, some of which Guerrera captures in photographs. They are produced on the table or floor within the intimate space shared by artist and collaborator as food and drink are consumed; pencil and paint marks occur during conversation. Small placemats bearing the vestiges of the food and drink become drawings that contain scribbles, traces and texts. Later in his studio, Guerrera adds details, renders descriptive drawings, and demarcates the stains. The drawings reveal an immediacy of execution, documenting shared moments and serendipitous interactions. Guerrera manipulates them mid- or post-circulation, further developing the imagery by refining drawn gestures, or overlaying them with traced photographs or prints of computer-manipulated original images. Bodies, architectural spaces, objects, and moments merge into impossible wholes. For one of his drawings, he and two other participants hold up the box-handle-ear object by the molded handles. They are all fused into one polymorphous body connected by the object’s ears.
The photographs document the artist and participants with the domestic kiosks in various poses and entanglements. They provide a fragmented view into the intimate space of the encounters that transpired, and the various contexts from which the objects, drawings, and writings evolve. They often capture an awkwardness and uncertainty of the events that precede and follow that particular moment. One image shows Guerrera with a paper plate covering his face, sitting beside and holding the hands of a woman who looks straight-ahead, her face expressionless. One of his sculptures is perched on her lap.
Collectively the drawings and photographs define and fix countless moments. They exist within undetermined time frames of events, encounters, comings and goings, and cultivated friendships that all remain accessible. Yet, the exhibition does not function as straight documentation. Rather, it permits only the partial passage of information and sets up an arena to circulate, connect and link the events, objects and participants, and like the domestic kiosk, activates infinite configurations and combinations of interactions.
We are all plastic creatures. Guerrera acknowledges our inherent vulnerability, and introduces awkwardness to the familiar. The willingness to adopt a domestic kiosk and all that it entails sets into motion a direct engagement that alters everyday life, confronts participants and questions intimacy. He explores limits of personal defense, protection and control, offsetting discomfort by the convivial space that surrounds food.
That our surroundings, objects and relationships combine to shape who we are inform his experimentation in social activity. In what remains vague, Guerrera’s private life and his artistic practice have merged, as meetings, dinners, and conversations become fluid and indistinguishable.
(1) Domestic Kiosk in predestination mode. If you are interested in adopting this kiosk and all its palpable and impalpable materials that are inherent in it, Telephone 514 252 4234. (The advertisement Guerrera posted for Porus, as part of his exhibition at SKOL, Montreal, 2001).
(2) List of participants for Porus:Sylvette Babin, Hervé Bouchereau, Simone Chevalot, Olivier Choinière, Sylvie Cotton, Gennaro De Pasquale, Maryse Larivière, Corine Lemieux, Alexandre-Nicolas Soubiran, Carl Trahan.
Download the exhibition brochure