Dagmara Genda -- Memoirs of a Time of Immaturity

March 16, 2013 to April 6, 2013

website: www.dagmaragenda.com

Exhibition Statement

My practice consists of drawing and architectural drawing-based installation most often made of adhesive cut vinyl, much like that commonly used for exhibition titles and didactics in galleries. My installations may adhere to walls, corners, floors, like ink splatters or shadows. I often source architectural motifs and works of other artists that I recombine and re-present in new settings and spaces. I've also made installations from non-adhesive vinyl, and most recently, a drawn panorama that is accessed via a constructed wooden platform. All these works start from drawings that are 44x30 inches or larger, and made using an additive technique that results in dense, detailed and often uncentered images whose influences range from illustration to contemporary painting and drawing. Like my installations, my drawings most often begin from traced images sourced from art history, architecture or photography that are then recombined and augmented into something entirely different.

I approach my work as a balance of form and content. Form structures how we come to conceive of certain content, and content can often determine the formal devices used to communicate it. This is why the images I produce often have a strictly defined content with certain rules about where I might source images from, but they are manipulated through various mark-making techniques that, I'd like to think, encourage the viewer to "unsee" certain things and recombine them in new ways. My aim is for every work to exist on the verge of chaos, as a potential identity always almost forming and simultaneously dissolving.

In regards to content, I generally start from two identities—Canadian and Polish. I'm originally from Poland but have been raised in Canada, albeit in a very Polish family whose adaptation to North American culture has never been complete. As such, both identities are simultaneously familiar and foreign to me. Thus my work tends to address political identity through a formal, if playful, language. Drawing on tropes such as Communist apartment blocks or Group of Seven landscape paintings, I explore their cultural stereotypes, overlaps and potential meanings through distorting them and often rendering them absurd. My aim is not only to question political identity, but formal identity as a ground from which we can engage in thinking about the world and ourselves. How do we come to define anything and is it possible to undo that definition? My approach thus tends to be playful, a cross between Gombrowicz-inspired Slavic absurdism and North American comic illustration. My installations verge more on the apocalyptic with their massive distortions and their dramatic size.

Within my work, I like to think that I'm asking viewer to describe how he defines his or her reality and whether those definitions can be rearranged. In his final novel, Kosmos, Witold Gombrowicz asks how many sentences can be created with the 26 letters of the alphabet. It is this profusion of connection and possibility, often both absurd and oppressive, that I explore in my practice.

Artist Biography

Dagmara Genda has an MFA from the University of Western Ontario and an MRes in Cultural Studies from the London Consortium, a multidisciplinary post-graduate research centre whose degree granting institution is Birkbeck College, University of London. She lives in Saskatoon where she works as a practicing artist and as the Director of AKA Gallery.

Genda has exhibited her drawings and installations across Canada and the US where she won 3rd place in the Durham Art Guild's 56 Annual Juried Exhibition curated by Sarah Anne Johnson. She is the 2011 grand prize winner of 3rd Ward's Open Call which resulted in a 2-month Brooklyn residency and two permanent wall works—one in Chelsea and the other at 3rd Ward. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including Saskatchewan Arts Board Grants, the 2009 Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition's Best of Drawing Award, and various graduate scholarships. Currently she has a large scale drawing installation touring Canada as part of Ecotopia, a group exhibition curated by Amanda Cachia.

Exhibition Images
Line Gallery

Interview with Dagmara Genda