Hidden in the basement of the Department of Communication Studies is a treasure. A new exhibit in the Media Gallery from multidisciplinary artist and Concordia alumna Karen Trask features three sculptures made from the pages of old dictionaries. Thousands of pages have been painstakingly cut, twisted, and woven into shapes representing the world, travel and communication.
Titled Inside Passage, the exhibit consists of three pieces. Dominating the installation is an actual-size boat hull made from the spines of dictionaries, with rope made from hundreds of yards of hand-wrought pages. Atop a pedestal is the second work, a bowling-ball-sized wrap of twine, also fabricated from dictionary pages. The third piece is a diptych of two aerial views of Earth cut into continental shapes with individually cut letters from the dictionary – along with symbols and characters from many languages.
Media Gallery curator Rae Staseson was immediately drawn to the installation’s potential, both for the sheer labour involved in its creation and for its relevance within a communications context. “Her (Trask’s) work is about process and time and work,” says Staseson. “She’s very interested in language, and how language shifts, changes, and disappears on us, and then comes back.”
“Although often imprecise and regularly insufficient, words remain a principal tool of communication and an indispensable aid for navigating a world undergoing rapid change,” Trask writes in reference to the theme of the work. “Constant change is also the nature of language, and it is this ephemeral, transient nature that I find so fascinating.”
In contrast with the digital age, a work of art made from print media is of particular interest to Staseson, in spite of the fact that it may seem dated. “We’re pushing boundaries, but the notion of print media, and the book, and language, you can’t get more of a foundation in communication than that,” she says.
The investigation of older forms of media is of significance in communication studies, and Trask’s work is evocative in its exploration. “Her work is multifaceted,” says Staseson. “There is a multiplicity of meaning that makes it really engaging.”
The vernissage for Karen Trask’s Inside Passage takes place Thursday, September 27 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
When: The exhibition runs from Friday, September 28 to Friday, December 7
Where: Media Gallery, Room CJ-1.419, Communication Studies and Journalism Building, Loyola Campus (7141 Sherbrooke St. W.)
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