IN MEMORY, PERMANENCE (FACADE) | Brandon Giessmann
WHEN: Monday, November 27, 2017, until Monday, January 1, 2018
WHERE: Marion Nicoll Gallery, Main Space
IN MEMORY, PERMANENCE (FACADE) is an exploration in mimicking spaces dedicated to loss, reflection, and compassion such as memorials and cemeteries through installation and performance. It references initiatives and work by other artists and activists, as well as historical events and figures, related to gender, sexuality, and trauma. The material is selected based on its resonance with the artist and their experience as a semi-closeted gay male victim of sexual assault. Visual imagery and written language are adopted from various sources to propose discussions on the evolution of ideologies or lack thereof, the process of healing, and the struggle to contribute to conversations surrounding identity when one remains unsure or fearful.
Several artists are referenced including Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Mark Clintberg, and Arno Breker. They are alluded to in a variety of ways including titles, dimensions, materials, and methods of display. By contrasting the historical perspectives and experiences of Gonzalez-Torres, a gay man who lost his partner as well as his own life to HIV/AIDS and often made work that encouraged empathy and love, compared to Breker, a sculptor who was highly favoured by Hitler and the Nazi regime for his hypermasculine and unrelenting representations of men, a space that acknowledges the victims and the oppressors who were responsible is presented. Showcasing the source of trauma is important to enable reflection however, it is not done with the intent to empathize with the ideologies that condone or endorse the actions that cost many their health, lives, and families. Rather, it is done to acknowledge the continuing presence of these harmful positions throughout history and contemporary society, and the importance of compassion in combating the rhetorics and policies they continue to uphold.
These ideas are considered from the artist’s perspective and bias, taking into account experiences dealing with being a victim of a physically non-violent sexual assault, and how layers of factors and identities contributed to a struggle in acknowledging the reality of what happened. References to the work of others and history have been collected and shared in fragments, allowing others to curate their own journey using material that offered sorrow, honesty, and hope during an ongoing journey of self-reflection and ambivalence.
To accompany the dialogue taking place about trauma and the people involved works dedicated to mourning, reflection, and growth are presented in forms that explicitly mimic the methods of display and architectural decisions utilized in memorials and cemeteries. These forms also reference other projects by artists and activists, such as The Pansy Project by Paul Harfleet, who plants and documents pansy flowers where instances of trauma for members of the LGBTQA community have occurred, as a means of helping those affected associate those spaces with positive memories and reminders of their progress, rather than the pain and struggles those experiences caused.