Galeria Olinala, Mexico / March 2016
The Forewarned / Photography Exhibit / March 8-28, 2016
Collaboration & Exhibit with LPM Projects (Ottawa, Canada) & Galeria Olinala, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in March 2016.
Featuring the Photographs of Whitney Lewis-Smith (Ottawa, Canada) & Rowan Corkill (London, England).
Exhibit opens March 8, 2016 / Vernissage time to be announced.
Lazaro Cardenas 274
Colonia Emiliano Zapata
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, 4838, Mexico
(52) 322 228 0659
The Forewarned is a group exhibition that highlights intersections between photography, ‘nature morte’, taxidermy and the post mortem. Each of the works selected take on the subject of the dead animal body as a means engage with questions concerning the medium itself.
These artists are linked together by a deep interest in using photography as a tool to both capture death and preserve life. Overall, they employ traditional historical methods and processes to access new ways of visualizing the post mortem. As their techniques remain classical, they are in essence traditionalists who deviate from the recent “digital turn” in photography.
Importantly, each of the works incorporate the motif of the dead bird, which has appeared throughout history as a sign or call to warning. However, these works are not simply suggestive of an impending danger, but rather, speak to a warning that has already passed. Death is not near, it has already occurred. To be “forewarned”, then, is to be held in a precarious state of unresolved pasts and impossible futures. Through this tension, the image dead animal becomes a repository for the viewer’s own sense of loss, fear, and desire to be projected.
The meticulous, intimate manipulation of the animal body is a process that becomes embedded with an almost ritualistic desire to preserve any sort of life that may remain. The Forewarned works on the idea that a pure state of absence or void can never be adequately represented within the photographic image. Instead, the exhibition demonstrates that there is a kind of memorial which must be continually reenacted in the process of its making. – Adam Barbu, 2015
Galeria Olinala in Puerto Vallarta opened its doors in 1978 with the intention of exhibiting art and objects from Mexico’s rich indigenous heritage. Olinala is the name of a mountainous Nahuatl village in north eastern Guerrero with a rich lacquer tradition and use of dance masks. The gallery was the first place in town to show lacquer ware from Olinala and Huichol art from the Sierra Madre mountains of Jalisco. Today both of these art forms have suffered from mass commercialization and for the most part have acquired a souvenir quality.
Therefore, for the past 14 years, the focus of the gallery has been on vintage dance masks from villages around Mexico, outsider art, found objects, and rural antiques. Most of the things we collect were not made with a commercial end in mind and reflect a deep human touch. Masks are made for ethnographic utilitarian purposes as well as old pottery, ladders, doors, boats, etc. The collection has an unusual ambience to it and the objects can transform ordinary common living spaces.
Galeria Olinala has always existed in the same old two story space on Lazaro Cardenas street in la colonia Emiliano Zapata near the Cuale river and in fact was the first business on the street. The building with its old walls, tile roof, and hand hewn wooden beams is a perfect house for what we collect.
The gallery was featured in the September 2005 Architectural Digest under the Discovery by Designers section by request of Ron Mann. We are interested in the primitive essence that is at the core of Mexico and how it remains vital in the contemporary world.
Whitney Lewis-Smith, Ottawa, Canada.
The desire to hang onto life even after it has gone dates back to Egyptian times, when the process of mummification was created to preserve the essence of a human being. The rituals that have been elaborated around death and dying aim to invoke the spirit of those that have passed before us, and are ultimately ego-centric, focusing on making those that are still living retain a feeling of closeness with someone or something that is no longer part of lived experience.
This struggle against time, and the desire to entirely stop its process has sprung up in direct opposition to the ever forward flow of time. The ritualistic procedures carried out in cemeteries, shrines created in homes to those that have passed on, and even the idea that the dead can still live on in ones own dream-state all attest to our fascination with keeping abreast of time and even conquering it.
With the animal realm, it has even come into fashion to have your beloved pet taxidermied, stuffed and able to withstand this ebb and flow. Perhaps all we need is a single qualifier of life – the physical body to then tack on our emotional desires and essentially reanimate a being.
Rowan Corkill, London, England
Rowan Corkill’s work is created from a deep ethnological fascination with various cultural religious and occult beliefs, many of which are founded on a cross pollination of reality and fantasy.
The artist uses his practice as a means to explore and examine the endless distortions of reality which the human mind has transformed into fantastical mythologies and ideologies. The similar role of the artist as creator is also questioned with particular interest in how the use of fiction can be used as a tool to acknowledge and question our presence on the planet.
Esotericism & Alchemy have played a significant role in the artist’s current practice, with particular interest in the Great works or philosopher stone. Incorporated stages of this secret process as starting points for his own work, the artist has re-interpreting each stage with his own ideas which often stem from various religious beliefs and cultural folklore.
Within each stage a huge variety of influences and inspirations shape the creative process. Youth subcultures, African art & Voodoo, Occult worship and secret initiations, Catholic art and medieval history are but a few of the ever expanding interests which shape the artists world. These influences merge together to produce works which are both strangely familiar and completely unknown.
Rowan Corkill’s work features many strange and bizarre materials collected from human animal and plant life, most of which are imbued with strong symbolic references and meanings. These symbolisms are often created out of superstitious and fictitious beliefs which elevate the objects and materials beyond the ‘norms’ of the everyday. Yet the creations of these beliefs are firmly rooted in realism as the core of all things.
The Artist works within varying artistic fields including sculpture, drawings, performance, photography, sound and taxidermy.
NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THESE WORKS.