Photos from Liz Magor’s Storage Facilities, which ran from September 16 – October 25, 2009. The exhibition took place at the Doris McCarthy Gallery, located within the University of Toronto, Scarborough campus, to which 401 Richmond ran a charter school bus on September 29th.
The Winnipeg born, British Columbia based artist presented an introduction before the viewing of the exhibition. Not wanting to over-anticipate the installation by focusing on it in discussion, she retraced her history: from her beginnings as an artist, photographing her back-to-the-land, aboriginal-impersonating hippy classmates in Vancouver, to her later installations of tiny cabins in caged rooms of false snow, or hiding place-creations within casts of hollow trees.
She spoke at length about the oral joy of the cigarette (though she does not smoke), and gave a detailed explanation of her favoured artistic process. Magor described the meticulous making of casts of everyday objects such as towels, serving trays, and elements from nature, and, while showing slides of works both in the exhibition and from earlier installations, revealed that, except for the occasional detail, she does not paint her objects, but instead mixes the colour of her creations directly into the model.
Once in the exhibition room, one of the most striking elements of the show were the haunting casts of folded jackets, lovingly matched to an almost perfect realism in shape and colour, with cold looking cigarettes (or in one case, a Toblerone bar) emerging from them; often juxtaposed next to, or wrapped around, honey-coloured liquor bottles.
Magor’s casts of tiny candy wrappers were another extraordinary feature. The most eerie detail, however, lay in Magor’s casts of animals (which she finds dead before making moulds of them). Upon close examination, tiny stray hairs could be found on the casts – elements of life where life seemed somehow the least likely.
In Storage Facilities Magor continued what was obviously her life’s work, investigating our compulsive behaviour, our yearning for an impossible, but somehow enchanting, return to nature, and our constant striving for safe places.
Apologies again for camera difficulties, on behalf of The State of the Arts in Canada.