SPACE: Erdem Taşdelen | Vicissitudes

14 September 2019 - 2 November 2019
Opening Reception 13 September 2019 7pm

Vicissitudes: Act One

Mercer Union will present a series of commissioned images by Toronto-based artist Erdem Taşdelen. The project is presented within the context of SPACE, Mercer Union’s public-facing billboard platform that invites one artist to produce a yearlong series of images. SPACE prioritizes projects that consider site-specificity and takes up questions of visibility as the artist creates four new works over the course of a year, each image changing with the gallery’s exhibition cycle.

Taşdelen’s new work for the billboard is an extension of the artist’s current research and explores ideas of performance without the presence of live bodies. Entitled Vicissitudes, the project will emerge from adaptations of textual material from the 19th Century text The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations, which comprises a seemingly exhaustive list created by French writer Georges Polti to describe and categorize all possible dramatic situations that may structure a story or performance. Out of the 322 sub-categories introduced by Polti in this volume, Taşdelen selects and typesets six situations for each billboard, arranging them in list form as if to suggest the sequence of events in an act. Taşdelen’s situational descriptors suggest ways of looking, offering to the reader a pair of lorgnettes through which the surrounding neighbourhood can become animated, and the goings-on of its people playfully subtitled.

With his private residence in proximity to the gallery, Taşdelen’s immersion into the Bloordale neighbourhood of Toronto provides Vicissitudes site-specificity and intimate local awareness. The project is accompanied by commissioned texts for each of the four images, offering an opportunity to activate and complement the public-facing work over the course of a year.

Installation views: Vicissitudes: Act One, Commissioned by Mercer Union, 2019. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

SPACE invites one artist to produce a yearlong series of images for a public-facing billboard located on the east façade of Mercer Union. Erdem Taşdelen’s Vicissitudes: Act One (2019) is the first edition in a series of four billboard images commissioned by Mercer Union.

Erdem Taşdelen is a Turkish-Canadian artist who lives and works in Toronto. His practice is rooted in conceptualism and involves a range of media including installation, video, sculpture, sound and artist books. His diverse projects bring self-expression into question within the context of culturally learned behaviours, where he often draws from unique historical narratives to address the complexities of current socio-political issues. His work has been shown in numerous exhibitions internationally and across Canada, at venues including Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen (2019); VOX Centre de l’image contemporaine, Montreal (2018); Pera Museum, Istanbul; Or Gallery, Vancouver (2017); Museum für Neue Kunst, Freiburg (2016); Stacion Center for Contemporary Art, Kosovo (2015); Kunstverein Hannover; ARTER, Istanbul; Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich; MAK, Vienna (2013); and Oakville Galleries (2012). Taşdelen has been awarded the Joseph S. Stauffer Prize in Visual Arts by the Canada Council for the Arts (2016), the Charles Pachter Prize for Emerging Artists by the Hnatyshyn Foundation (2014), and was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award in 2019.

Image: Erdem Taşdelen, detail from Vicissitudes: Act One, 2019. Courtesy the artist. Commissioned by Mercer Union, Toronto.