Lost Illusions/Illusions perdues (part two)

Sarah Pierce/The Metropolitan Complex

4 April 2014 - 24 May 2014


with Kayla Krische and Olivia Simpson

Artist’s Talk Friday 4 April 2014, 6:30 PM
Opening Reception Friday 4 April, 7:30 PM onward, with performed elements throughout

Since 2003, Sarah Pierce has used the umbrella term – The Metropolitan Complex – to describe her practice. Despite its institutional resonance, this title does not signify an organization. Instead, it demonstrates Pierce’s broad understanding of cultural work, articulated through working methods that often open up to the personal and the incidental. Characterized as a way to play with a shared neuroses of place (read ‘complex’ in the Freudian sense), whether a specific locality or a wider set of circumstances that frame interaction, her activity considers forms of gathering, both from the perspective of historical examples and the situations that she initiates.

Sarah Pierce’s Lost Illusions/Illusions perdues (part two) refers to the ‘lost illusions’ of the recent past, and present. In this exhibition, support structures from recent exhibitions re-appear as material excluded from the institution’s archive while the galleries are divided into black and white. Artworks or ceramic test pieces belonging to an unofficial archive of works that have been left behind at the Banff Centre, are presented in the form of large posters while the gallery has become a work space to make these objects again, transforming from mutable material to robust form while drying out during the exhibition’s time span.

These physical forms are installed against the backdrop of two art students working individually and together, connecting and disconnecting memory and image, movement and gesture, voice and chant, to embody the process of making art. This two channel film, documenting a workshop organised by Pierce and employing techniques from Brecht’s ‘learning-plays’ displacing mimesis by combining physical gesture and attitude, exists in duplicate, as two films and two individual students struggling with issues of translation, manner, chant and action.

In gathering material left behind from previous exhibitions, remnants of an institutional archive, forgotten objects, and a ‘learning play’ workshop with two art students, Pierce brings to the fore artworks, objects and moments that have been recently suppressed, renegotiating the role of the object, the artwork, the timeliness and contingency of gestures, actions and questions of community. The processes of research and presentation that Pierce undertakes highlight a continual renegotiation of the terms for making art: the potential for dissent and self-determination, the slippages between individual work and institution, and the proximity of past artworks.

This exhibition is the second in a trilogy of solo exhibitions, beginning at the Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, in January; now taking place here in Toronto; and opening at SBC Galerie d’Art Contemporain, Montreal, in May 2014.

We are delighted to partner with Images Festival in the production of the film work for this exhibition and acknowledge the gracious support of Culture Ireland.


Supported by Culture Ireland & Images Festival

Sarah Pierce was born in 1968 in Connecticut and grew up in Oakville, Ontario. She received a BA from Occidental College, Los Angeles, an MFA from Cornell University, Ithaca, and completed the Whitney Independent Study program in 1995. Recent exhibitions include: Lost Illusions/Illusions perdues, curated by Jesse McKee, Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, (2014); Monogamy, an exhibition by Gerard Byrne and Sarah Pierce, curated by Tirdad Zolghadr, The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, Bard; Anguish and Enthusiasm: What do you do with your revolution once you’ve got it?, curated by Sarah Perks and Declan Clarke, Cornerhouse, Manchester (all 2013); Something to Do Something to Say, VOX, Montreal; I Proclaim, You Proclaim, Stroom den Haag; Towards a Newer Laocoön, commissioned by Sarah Glennie, the National College of Art and Design Gallery and the Irish Film Institute, Dublin (solo); Anti-establishment, CCS Hessel Museum, Bard College, Annadale-on-Hudson; After the Future, Eva International, curated by Annie Fletcher, Limerick; The Artist Talks, curated by Emily Pethick, The Showroom, London (solo) (all 2012). She is one of seven artists who represented Ireland at the 51st Venice Biennial (2005). She lives and works in Dublin.


Image details: Lost Illusions/Illusions perdues (part two), installation view, 2014. Photo: Toni Hafkensheid