Blending appropriated imagery from nature photographs, coffee table books, calendars, and travel brochures with original drawn and painted elements, Dagmara Genda’s Panorama and Corrupted Animals address clichés of the Canadian landscape. The work is formed using the logic of a jigsaw puzzle: found forms are traced, cut, combined, and recombined until they fit together. The final collages present a new version of natural space and question the highly constructed legacy of The Group of Seven in relation to both our sense of national identity and prevailing foreign stereotypes.
Genda uses the form of the panorama for its inherent ability to reverse the position of viewership; it consumes a viewer rather than allowing them to maintain a position of consumption. In Panorama, the viewer ascends a platform to attain a position of privileged observation, but is instead enveloped by the work in a simultaneously immersive and intimate experience. This subversion of position undermines our tendency to separate ourselves from nature in an attempt to own it and colonize it; instead, we are encouraged to reflect on our perceptions of nature and our place within it.
Corrupted Animals are a series of portraits of animals sourced from the larger panoramic drawing. The drawings, in vertical format, draw on the traditional and highly constructed conventions of portraiture. Each depicts one animal that is transformed, and often anthropomorphized, into a fantastical hybrid of other animals, humans, and technology. The collages are tumultuous, humorous, absurd, and sometimes perverse, and highlight that corruption is, in fact, a natural state.
The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the Saskatchewan Arts Board.