Eleanor King   Stacks

December 7, 2012 - January 27, 2013

Halifax-based artist Eleanor King finds inspiration in the everyday - those deceptively mundane, overlooked, and understated aspects of contemporary life that one might adapt, revitalize, assemble or dismantle, and in the process, reveal as dignified and often extraordinary. Her work is frequently site-specific, responding to places or situations using provisional means and employing interdisciplinary strategies combining sculpture, sound, performance, and two-dimensional media. The approach is playful yet political, and attempts to resolve artistic, social and civic concerns. 

Human relationships to the natural world are an important consideration in King’s work. For the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, she took her inspiration from the space of the gallery itself and the surrounding area of Lethbridge. Working in situ, her exhibition drew from the history of the place, be it the lingering ghosts of the former library, the coal mining industry or the impact of irrigation. The history of extraction looms large in the region, the impact felt far beyond the rise and fall of economies to include the very shape of the land itself, and King addressed the unsustainability intrinsic to extracting coal, water, oil and other resources. Pointing to the convolutions at play, an enormous mural spanned the walls of the upper gallery evoking an aerial perspective of the region’s agricultural mosaic. Long rows of rectangles and circles shifted in size and orientation, flickering through a paint palette that included Canadian Sky, Fossil Grey and Fencepost. The result was a work gesturing as much to the unspoken complexities underlying the patterns of irrigation pivots and property lines as to Minimalism, Hard-edge painting, Op Art and interior design.

King’s interest in the impacts of unfettered extraction is linked closely to her own history of installations - capitalist critiques investigating ideas of the lost, forgotten or obsolete. At the center of the gallery, a large black cube with the same dimensions as the old English measure of a “stack” of coal at 108 cubic feet confronted us, unsettling and intimidating. At once a monument to the mining of coal that served as the catalyst to settling this community, the stack overflowed with a disturbing accumulation of discarded objects largely determined by available supply as free or cheap cast-offs gleaned from our consumer society. Comprised of speakers, VCRs, amplifiers, record players and other electronic detritus, King powered as much of the equipment as possible generating a peculiar atmospheric wash of sound as much the disquieting breath of our commodified lives as the imagined flow of a river undiverted.

Eleanor King presents installations and performances nationally and internationally, most notably at Nuit Blanche (TO), Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Eastern Edge Gallery (NL) and Galleri F15 in Norway. She received a BFA from NSCAD in 2001, and participated in residencies at The Banff Centre, Atlantic Centre for the Arts (FL), New Adventures in Sound Art (TO), and the Centre for Art Tapes (NS). Her musical history includes bands The Got to Get Got, The Just Barelys and newly formed all-girl outfit Wet Denim. She was shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award in 2012, she teaches media arts at NSCAD University and is Director at Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Stacks was curated by Ryan Doherty with financial assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture & Heritage, and the City of Lethbridge.

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