Corinne Thiessen: Chronic

April 6 - June 28, 2015

Opening reception: Friday, May 22, 6-10pm

In this new site-specific work, Lethbridge-based artist Corinne Thiessen traces the recurring tension among composure and chaos, regimented uniformity and self-conscious release. Using a constructed forest of fragmented trunks salvaged from fallen trees around Lethbridge, Chronic performs an endless choreography of collapse, a cycle of strain and release that speaks to Thiessen’s interest in thinking of failure as an ever-dependable chorus.

Chronic, like much of Thiessen’s work, revels in the notion of the uncanny – the idea that something is at once familiar yet also deeply unsettling. At first glance, the fragmented nature of Chronic’s trees evokes a familiar, almost nostalgic whimsy reminiscent of fairy tales or wind-up lithograph toys. Closer inspection reveals not only the mechanisms dictating the trees’ slow ascent and descent, but also the gradual deterioration of the tree trunks after hours of endless, repetitive movement. These visual signifiers of fatigue, fragility, and mortality take the work into more foreboding territory, provoking thoughts of the body’s eventual tendency towards decay and of the physical and emotional toll of habit, ritual, or addiction.

Indeed, Chronic’s constantly collapsing and re-building trees generate questions about labour, toil, and attendant social expectations surrounding productivity and efficiency. The tree trunks almost seem to linger in their collapsed state, as if to consider the possibility of simply refusing to continue. The discomfort prompted by this prolonged meditation can be revelatory, catalyzing ideas of alternative conceptions of success and the generative potential of failure.

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