Eliza Chandler

Bodies in Translation: Age and Creativity

This exhibition animates an ongoing interest in interrogating, rather than taking for granted, the ways that bodies and art interact. Buoyed by the lessons passed down from disability arts, we, the curators of this exhibition, specifically sought out work by aging artists who wittingly, subversively, subtly, whimsically, intimately, and culturally animate the particular interaction between aging bodies and the artistic process.

These interactions are multiplicities, as you’ll experience as you explore this exhibition; as diverse as the art and the (aging) artists behind the work. The binding thread between these works is the provocation for us to consider the dynamic ways that aging invigorates art-making as well as the art that is produced.

As the collected work in this exhibit demonstrate, aging, particularly into a world wherein our presence is increasingly unexpected, is, perhaps, always a creative act.

The stories unfolded by these works enliven how our embodiments shift with age. These shifts may conjure the need for assistive devices that can only be found in objects repurposed to serve a particular or personalized need or even desire, as Fernandes offers in his installation and performance. The aging process also may require shifts in how we present ourselves to, and are present within, the world in manners that are less obscured and more purposeful than they might have once been, as Steeves photographs gesture towards. As is captured in Sakuai’s video, these shifts may propel us out of the expectedly impassioned body and into a body that is intimate in unexpectedly delightful ways. The contemplative time that aging allows for also opens a space to engage in the heuristic quandary of how things—cultural values, political landscapes, and ourselves—change as much as they stay the same over a lifetime. Aging, or living on into the future, allows for reflections on the passage of time and its effects on the bodymind, a theme which is particularly poignant in Langiois’s book-object. The privilege of aging may also give us time and space to revisit family histories, allowing new meaning of the collective travel of migration and settlement to emerge, as is revealed in Torma’s textile assemblage. Broadening the question from the personal to the social, Nordman’s installation causes us to wonder how labour relations, political power, and cultural hegemonies shift and also remain unchanged, meditating on the reflective and also, in this context, nihilistic question of, “has one grown old without growing up?” As all of these works demonstrate, and as Day’s etching as well as her ongoing practice punctuates, the creative act of aging may indeed change how we approach our work but it does not have to altogether foreclose the possibilities of making.

In all of these material and procedural ways, these works open up dialogues on histories and futurities from a distinctly aging perspective, illuminating them as collective dialogues in ways that only art can.
August 2017