Grey is a group exhibition featuring works by Derek Barnett (New York), Sarah Massecar (Toronto) and Michael Drebert (Vancouver). Grey (or “gray”) is a word with no definitive spelling in the English language. An achromatic colour, grey is the shifting and indeterminate area to be found between the extremes of black and white. Grey stands as both an area of complexity, nuance and liminality as well as an area of stasis, confusion, inconclusiveness and inexactitudes. Encompassing many of these qualities, the three artists in Grey examine areas inherent in notions of authorship, production, use value and display.
Taking a strong art historical approach, Derek Barnett’s work plays with expectations of authorship and originality. Often assuming a curatorial role, Barnett works with other artists and designers in the production of his work, at times even subcontracting the conceptual aspects of his artwork. In other cases, Barnett will redesign”another artists work. An act of homage and critique, Barnett’s redesigned works are sincere in their aim to improve canonical contemporary art works while championing anomalous interpretations.
Michael Drebert works with everyday objects to examine ways in which to undermine their use value. Drebert uses subtle and understated gestures of sabotage that render the objects seemingly intact yet unusable. By removing a hinge pin holding a door in place or by boiling off only the alcohol in a bottle of whisky, Drebert tests our understanding of function and utility and offers up his sculptures as items that seemingly retain semiotic value while simultaneously failing in purpose.
Sarah Massecar’s process-based practice investigates objects such as shoes, scarves, furniture, and books. Literally and meticulously deconstructing them, she reassembles the objects to understand a certain archaeology of thought contained and revealed by each object. Installed using strategies of museological display, the process of unmaking and remaking leaves some articles in a similar condition to which they began, while in others the process renders them in an in-between state of restoration. Existing somewhere between notions of manufacture and usage, Massecar’s work draws relationships between ideas of personal memory and subjective experience, asking questions about our consideration of economic use value and the interpretation of material history.