Gretchen Sankey

8 January 1999 - 14 February 1999
Opening Reception 8 January 1999 6pm

Main Gallery:

It, and all the rest of it

Part One

Clint Eastwood pulled out his rifle and aimed it at Roxy. Everybody screamed. The movie theater had gone darker than was intended for normal visual consumption. But soon it became obvious that it was more extensive than just the absence of projected light. Even the running lights along the aisles and the exit signs were all cooling down. A glowing red cone affixed to the usher’s flashlight directed the audience, row by row, onto the front street. “The whole town’s blacked out.” She pointed her light at a small step. “I called the manager. He lives on the edge of town, and says it’s pitch black everywhere.”

A certain playful danger had invaded the town. A station wagon full of teenagers was burning doughnuts in the middle of the intersection at Sinclair and Main, the traffic lights uncommanding of any order. Headlights scanned the crowds and storefronts like searchlights, their trajectory made all the more visible by the passing of a mosquito fogging truck. Roxy noticed everyone’s attention was focused skyward. “Oh my God…it’s God!” The figures were clear for all to see. A floating image of a bearded old man, seated, with a young boy and girl kneeling at his feet. At first people were in awe, but then it turned into panic. “It’s a sign! It’s Armageddon!” Some started jostling each other in an effort to flee to their cars and their homes. Roxy continued her skyward gaze. The apparition started to change, the figures parting, the young girl now filling the sky. The street lights came on, obscuring the night spectacle. A shot emanated from the deserted theater, the drifting audio amplified for the street by way of the opened exit doors. The anxiety of the people out front seemed to wane with the comfort induced by the return of mercury lighting.

Roxy looked down and saw that her toes were protruding over the fronts of her sandals. At school, girls were teased for having undisciplined digits like this. They called it “hangin’ ten”, or worse, named them “surfer girls.” Roxy kicked off her sandals, pushing them under a mailbox. Her friend Sandy offered to double her home. Seated, Roxy held tight to her co-pilot’s waist, while she shifted her weight to maintain balance, while at the same time being careful not to scrape her toes on the paved prairie floor.

The next Wednesday, the Beausejour Beaver ran the story of the mysterious sky show on it’s front page. The headline read “Weather…Or Not?” In the article, it was explained that the apparent “vision” was just the result of the lights from nearby Winnipeg bouncing off clouds, a phenomena usually blocked by the town’s own sources of illumination. But Roxy didn’t notice the article as she tore the front page in two, rolled the dissected news item into two crescent shapes, and stuffed them into the toes of her new emerald green shoes.

Part Two

The preceding story was written in response to the imagery used in Gretchen Sankey’s past and current work. Gretchen’s art exists between the touch points of the events in our lives. Like a synapse, the point at which a nervous impulse passes from one neuron to another, her work implies a narrative based in real and imagined knowledge, on it’s way to the moment of declared action. The realization of the betrayal of Disney’s world, the acknowledgment of the reality Hitchcock’s Psycho. The narrative is not linear, but an embodiment of all thoughts, experiences and desires that make up ourselves. For her exhibition entitled It, and all the rest of it, Gretchen will be presenting works-on-paper, as well as a site-specific installation consisting of floating narrative fragments rendered on masonite panels. Echoing the composition of the paper drawings, in which the imagery is intensified by the silent white of the page, the panel works will be installed directly to the wall in amphorous clusters separated by gulfs of wall. Pick any point to enter. Chances are, you’ll pass yourself, or Roxy, on the way in going out.

Born in Montreal, Sankey received her BFA and MFA degrees from York University. As a member of the 23rd Room curatorial collective, she has participated in the organization of exhibitions in alternative spaces, notably Duke-u-menta ’90, ’94 and ’96. Her work has also been included in numerous national and international exhibitions, most recently in Mexico at the Cervantino Festival, in Montreal at the Saidye Bronfman Centre, and in Toronto at WARC and Tableau Vivant. Gretchen lives in Toronto.

– Reid Diamond

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