Here. In Absence is informed by the unsettling disposition of the world we live in and our collective experience over the last two years of pandemic. Echoing various crises in society today, the works in the exhibition evoke a reflective space for contemplation and connection around themes of isolation, division and belonging, expanding on concerns at the heart of Perunovich’s practice: boundaries, displacement and migration.
I am Still. Traveling anchors the viewer to a place that is neither foreign nor familiar. Filmed in 2020 at the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant beside Lake Ontario, the video depicts the artist walking around this seemingly abandoned environment dragging the burden of a nautical Jacob’s ladder. An ethereal soundscape composed around the industrial sound of a locomotive underlines the Sisyphean task the artist is engaged in, and suggests places elsewhere.
Reversed Code is informed by messaging codes such as Braille, an alphabet for the visually impaired; binary code used for computing and patterns in weaving; and ethical codes of conduct such as the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Rights and Freedoms. The ten screens that make up the installation strike a poetic balance between darkness and light, beauty and violation. The work invites us to contemplate the precarious role of language and communication in a world that feels increasingly confusing and isolating.
Both works are being exhibited in North America for the first time.
Photography: Scott Lee
Vessna Perunovich is a Toronto-based interdisciplinary artist whose work embraces performance, video, sculpture, painting and drawing, to address issues around home, displacement and boundaries. Her work was included as part of So-Called Reality, Risk Change Project, National Gallery of Montenegro (2020); and Ad Infinitum, part of the 13th Havana Biennial, Cuba (2019). Recent solo exhibitions include “Fragments of a Whole” at the Contemporary Art Gallery Pančevo, Serbia (2021) and “Shifting Shelter” at Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Alberta University of the Arts, Calgary (2019). She has exhibited as part of international biennials in Cuba, Albania, England, Venice, Portugal, Yugoslavia and Greece, and attended residencies in Banff, Berlin, Bursa and Istanbul, New York, Beijing and Malta. Her survey exhibitions Borderless and Emblems of Enigma toured to galleries and museums across Canada and Europe. She is the recipient of a Chalmers Fellowship Grant (2019) and has been awarded grants by The Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council.