EXHIBITION: The Amoebic Workshop

September 21, 2016 - October 23, 2016

Artist(s): Jessica Drenk, Gabriel Lalonde, and Claudia Wieser
Curator(s):Astarte Rowe

The Amoebic Workshop: A Submerged Exhibition, curated by Astarte Rowe, features countless living Mediolus corona amoebas1 in an aquarium habitat, plus artworks by Jessica Drenk (US), Gabriel Lalonde (Canada), and Claudia Wieser (Germany).

Taking the great Renaissance workshops of Michelangelo, del Sarto, and Veronese as a point of departure, The Amoebic Workshop is an experimental, multidisciplinary exhibition that restages the Old Masters’ studios at a microscopic scale, where single-celled amoebas industriously, and invisibly, craft intricate shells for themselves that embody a uniquely visual aesthetic. Conversely the artists in this exhibition demonstrate tendencies toward the ‘amoebic’ through artworks involving found components, altered and/or assembled with an affinity to natural processes and concepts. Unlike the Renaissance workshops that galvanised a belief in Humanism, The Amoebic Workshop questions human claims to exclusivity in making art, design, and architecture. However it is not the amoeba that is elevated to the rank of ‘artist,’ but art itself that is qualified as amoebic. To quote philosopher Elizabeth Grosz: “Art is of the animal;” hence, “what is most artistic in us is that which is most bestial.” The introduction of a living organism into the gallery space reconfigures the relationship between human and animal acts of creation, submerging the exhibition into the virtual realm of the amoebic.

This exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with essay by Astarte Rowe and contributions by sociologist Myra J. Hird (Queen’s University), who studies Canadian waste management and micro-ontology from an interdisciplinary perspective; poet and philosopher of digital ontology, Justin Clemens (University of Melbourne); and animal biologist Michael Hansell (University of Glasgow). The curator wishes to acknowledge Professor Timothy Patterson’s Earth Sciences Laboratory at Carleton University, and Andrew Macumber, Braden Gregory, and Nawaf Nasser, the graduate students who harvested and cultured the amoebas in the exhibition.

1 Mediolus corona are unicellular amoebas that construct their intricate shells from materials found in their environment. Identified in 2014 by the Earth Sciences laboratory of Professor Timothy Patterson at Carleton University, they inhabit freshwater and terrestrial bodies worldwide. This is their first exhibition in 720 million years.


Programs, Events, and Public Art

Opening reception
Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
6:00 pm: Join us for an opening reception with the curator, that will coincide with the opening of Koffler Gallery’s fall exhibition, Yonder, for a truly art-filled evening at Artscape Youngplace.

We are grateful to the above institutions and organizations for their participation in this exhibition and to the following sponsors for their generous support: Holiday Inn Mississauga, Kula Annex, OVSC, HHO Green Tech, and H2O Clinic.

Image: Claudia Wieser, Fischreiher, 2009, courtesy Sies+Höke Gallery, Düsseldorf

About the Curator(s)

Astarte Rowe

Astarte Rowe is an independent scholar and curator currently based in Toronto. She earned her doctorate in Art History from the University of Melbourne, with a nomination for the Chancellor’s Prize.

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About the Artists

Gabriel Lalonde

Gabriel Lalonde is a prolific poet and self-taught visual artist whose multidisciplinary practice includes mixed media images, sculptures, installations, and published poetic works. His canvases—composed of found materials such as wood debris and clapboard, chairs, empty cans, Barbies, metal, and roof shingles—serve as explorations into the syntax of lost time, eroded existence, faded amorousness, and the general effects of wear and tear.

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Jessica Drenk

Jessica Drenk (b. 1980) received her MFA in 3D Art from the University of Arizona. She is a recipient of the Artist Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Centre, among other awards. Her work is also in corporate and public collections including those of Fidelity Investments and the Yale University Art Gallery.

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Claudia Wieser

Claudia Wieser (b. 1973) lives and works in Berlin. An early apprenticeship as blacksmith at Bergmeister Kunstshmiede led her to the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich where she completed an MA in Painting. Geometry acts as a point of departure for Wieser, as evinced by her spherical wooden sculptures, hand-painted ceramics, multi-faceted mirrors, and gold leaf geometrics applied to hand-made paper or book pages.

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