9 dec 2020 – 24 jan 2021
COME AS YOU ARE
15 artists come out as raw and honest as one can be, no need to make pretty. Young, elder, queer and straight, First Nations, last nations of immigrants, no distinctions under Covid. A virus doesn’t see colour, race or gender.
2020 is a year that will not go unnoticed in the history books. Event after event, the stories born from this time will be remembered long after we become memories.
The pandemic changed the conventions of “normal” in the midst of an unprecedented, divided world. At the apex of this crisis, we were awakened by the crying for justice by communities historically oppressed by systemic racism. All the while, the world wonders why reality show presidents replaced truth and decency for so long.
What could be said from a year so extraordinary, complex, and for so many, sad to the core?
“Come as You Are” tries to peer into that question by asking artists to look deep inside their souls and capture what 2020 has become. “Come as You Are” encourages one to be naked from everything else upon reflection, as it is a forced stop to look around and inside, discovering the new perspectives that are also learning opportunities. Come as you are to a year where we have found the essence of what matters. Come as you are to understand individuals’ impact on communities and recognize the value of life, friendship, and family. Come as you are to a year of collaboration, a year of survival, a year to review priorities.
Come as you are.
Carolina Echeverria & Cristian Zaelzer (Curators)
Come as You Are.
Come as you are, as you were
As I want you to be
As a friend, as a friend
As an old enemy
Take your time, hurry up
Choice is yours, don’t be late
Take a rest as a friend
As an old
Come doused in mud, soaked in bleach
As I want you to be
As a trend, as a friend
As an old
And I swear that I don’t have a gun
No, I don’t have a gun
No, I don’t have a gun…
COME AS YOU ARE
And They Did…
By Dorota Kozinska
What a titillating title! What a creative scope for unbridled expression in the times of a pandemic. We come as we are to our numerous Zoom sessions, made up on top, with bunny slippers under the desk and out of view, so why not stand in front of the canvas stripped of all artifice and pretence? This is who I am, this is how I feel, and here is my story…
But if you think the title refers to a fun party invitation, you are in for a surprise. The tales spun via the magical conduit that is Art deal with issues of profound importance to each and every participant in this show, and they are many, fifteen to be exact, and each as unique as the other.
Their stories talk of solitude amidst a crowd, of feeling outside of the common discourse, of a longing to be heard. “Come As You Are” gives a voice to these feeling, and in the process raises our awareness while validating their spirit.
There are words attached to the images, even though the works of art speak their own language. It is a great effort for an artist to dress their soul in words while having at their disposal the arsenal of creative, tactile media. But there is a power in the spoken word and it should, and does, accompany the visual presentation.
For some, like photographer Alex Tran, the pandemic and the isolation that followed had him turn his camera on himself. ” The year 2020 for me has exposed our inability as a society to comprehend and trust the scientific process in the face of a global crisis. Mutation is a visual game of telephone that represents our distortions and appropriations of truths and facts.”
Maria Ezcurra’s inspiration for dealing with these times brought to mind the migration of birds, traversing great distances between Quebec and South America, messengers travelling between cultures and realities, and she reached for the Mexican tradition of “papel picado” (cur paper, which symbolizes the wind), for her work Lightness. Agata Kozanecka chose mixed media for her piece symbolizing her personal journey through these difficult times of the pandemic. ” In confinement as we are bare, stripped of the illusion of the recent past yet still standing.” Michael Clague’s work, Winter is coming, echoes with his words: “I’m here as I am, no less no more. I come as the dark winter nears. The wind blows hard and cold. I hold my breath.”
And on and on… the words weave a silent tapestry, like a Greek chorus behind the artworks on display, engaging the viewer in a profound dialogue that reaches beyond the canvas.
Eclectic, unabashedly personal, they draw on a variety of mediums and styles, from figurative to abstract, from photography to textiles, from mixed media to painting. There is a heartbreaking honesty in each contribution, and together they create a formidable forum for discussion, for sharing, for being vulnerable while holding strong.
Such is the power of art, and of the human… common… spirit.
©Dorota Kozinska, 2020
Dorota Kozinska is an international writer and art critic based in Montréal, Canada.