Critical Distance Centre for Curators is pleased to present The Amoebic Workshop: A Submerged Exhibition, curated by Astarte Rowe and featuring countless living Mediolus corona amoebas in an aquarium habitat, plus artworks by Jessica Drenk (US), Gabriel Lalonde (Canada), and Claudia Wieser (Germany).
Taking the great Renaissance workshops of Michelangelo, del Sarto, and Veronese as a point of departure, The Amoebic Workshop is an experimental, multidisciplinary exhibition that restages the Old Masters’ studios at a microscopic scale, where single-celled amoebas industriously, and invisibly, craft intricate shells for themselves that embody a uniquely visual aesthetic. Conversely the artists in this exhibition demonstrate tendencies toward the ‘amoebic’ through artworks involving found components, altered and/or assembled with an affinity to natural processes and concepts. Unlike the Renaissance workshops that galvanised a belief in Humanism, The Amoebic Workshop questions human claims to exclusivity in making art, design, and architecture. However it is not the amoeba that is elevated to the rank of ‘artist,’ but art itself that is qualified as amoebic. To quote philosopher Elizabeth Grosz: “Art is of the animal;” hence, “what is most artistic in us is that which is most bestial.” The introduction of a living organism into the gallery space reconfigures the relationship between human and animal acts of creation, submerging the exhibition into the virtual realm of the amoebic.
This exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with essay by Astarte Rowe and contributions by sociologist Myra J. Hird (Queen’s University), who studies Canadian waste management and micro-ontology from an interdisciplinary perspective; poet and philosopher of digital ontology, Justin Clemens (University of Melbourne); and animal biologist Michael Hansell (University of Glasgow). The curator wishes to acknowledge Professor Timothy Patterson’s Earth Sciences Laboratory at Carleton University, and Andrew Macumber, Braden Gregory, and Nawaf Nasser, the graduate students who harvested and cultured the amoebas in the exhibition.
Exhibition-related events are in development and will be posted soon.
Please join us for an opening reception with the curator on Wednesday, September 21st from 6–9 pm
Our reception will coincide with the opening of Koffler Gallery’s fall exhibition, Yonder, for a truly art-filled evening at Artscape Youngplace!
Critical Distance Centre for Curators (CDCC)
Suite 302, Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street, Toronto, ON M6J 2W5
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About the Artists
Mediolus corona are unicellular amoebas that construct their intricate shells from materials found in their environment. Identified in 2014 by the Earth Sciences laboratory of Professor Timothy Patterson at Carleton University, they inhabit freshwater and terrestrial bodies worldwide. This is their first exhibition in 720 million years.
Jessica Drenk received her MFA in 3D Art from the University of Arizona. A recipient of the Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Centre, Drenk has work in the collections of Yale University Art Gallery and Fidelity Investments. She is represented by Adah Rose Gallery in Maryland.
Gabriel Lalonde is a poet and self-taught visual artist based in Coteau-du-Lac, Québec. Maker of images, sculptures, installations, and poems, he has exhibited widely in galleries, art fairs, and exhibitions in Europe and North America.
Claudia Wieser is based in Berln and has exhibited widely in Europe (including The Drawing Room, London; Petit Palais, Paris, and KIOSK, Ghent) and in New York (Hauser & Wirth, and The Drawing Center, among others). She holds an MA in Painting from the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich and is represented by Marianne Boesky Gallery, NY and Sies+Höke, Düsseldorf.
About the Curator
Astarte Rowe is an independent curator and scholar currently based in Toronto. She received her doctorate in Art History from the University of Melbourne. She has presented her research internationally and written for peer-reviewed journals on topics including anamorphosis and contemporary Indigenous art, desertification and Australian Aboriginal art discourse, and William Palmer and Newfoundland Regionalism.
We are grateful to the above institutions and organizations for their participation in this exhibition and to the following sponsors for their generous support: Holiday Inn Mississauga, Kula Annex, OVSC, HHO Green Tech, and H2O Clinic.
image: Claudia Wieser, Fischreiher, 2009, courtesy Sies+Höke Gallery, Düsseldorf