Lissa Robinson

4 November 1999 - 18 December 1999
Opening Reception 4 November 1999 8pm

Front Gallery:

Ida’s Secrets

Mass Hysteria

A Secret elicits a desire to uncover the truth. The implications of something hidden appeals to our sense of curiosity and sense of adventure. We begin a journey, a process of discovery, by searching for clues…

In Lissa Robinson’s installation Ida’s Secrets, our first clue is a pile of larvae-like objects heaped on the floor. This visceral debris, symptoms of dis-ease, is evidence of obsessive activity. Their vast numbers invoke the endless needs of the body, like desire and hunger; thus, we have no way of knowing how many or how many more there will be. The illusion of writhing mass is unnerving as is the creator’s compulsive, almost hysterical obsession. Incubating in these forms are evocations of the wonders, secrets, and secretions of the physical body, as well as a celebration of emotional, intuitive expression.

The second clue to Ida’s Secrets is an object protruding from the wall. Also visceral, it is smooth, twisted and flesh-like, with a large frontal opening that invites the viewer to peer inside. To do so one succumbs to curiosity and perhaps confronts a fear and loathing of bodily openings. A channel extends deep inside, far beyond the limits of the object. A light, emanating from within, is cast upon our dark expectation of the repulsive, transcending our mundane familiarity with the body.

In a society where technology dominates, we are continually alienated from both our bodies and from the desire to examine and re-define our perceptions and behaviour. For example, the hysteria evident in Lissa’s work continues to be considered inappropriate behaviour: hysteria, with its connotations of insanity, stupidity, and depravity is completely counterproductive. The Pervasive myths surrounding hysteria and other emotional responses have been absorbed into the rhetoric of technology, simultaneously promoting the ration while deepening our misunderstanding of the non-rational. And what consequence does this have for our natural responses, especially since hysteria is considered a female affliction? When our bodies, fears and desires are used as tools to sell products, perhaps hysteria is a reaction to such misrepresentation. When deprived of the ability to respond, perhaps it is a potent articulation of our innermost state.

Ida’s Secrets reaffirms the need to examine closely, to experience what lies beneath the surface. These objects (and all objects really) are not benign; they are vessels of insight, they are reflections of ourselves an our desires. They are simply in a state of dormancy, awaiting awakening.

– Dionne McAffee

Lissa Robinson was born in Montreal, Quebec, but has been living in Alberta since the age of two. She studied painting at the Alberta College of Art and Design, graduated “With Distinction” in 1995, and recently completed her B.F.A. at Athabasca University. In 1994, she received a full scholarship to attend the summer residency program at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, and has recently been awarded project grants from both the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts. Lissa is an emerging artist who works primarily in mixed media installation. She works and volunteers her services in the local arts community.