A bodily approach to art at Rodman Hall

MISHAE LEE

Nov.4.AL.RodmanhallThe opening reception of Brendan Fernandes’ collection at Brock University’s Rodman Hall Art Centre was a huge success. Guests were given the chance to hear Fernandes speak first hand about the meaning behind each piece of his collection as well as exciting new projects he is currently working on.

The experience allowed the audience to gain insight to his struggles of finding himself as not only an artist, but as a member within an age of global migration. The pieces of his collection, They, reflect this identity struggle and encourage the audience to consider their own personal identities as well. Using different mediums of art, Fernandes brilliantly contrasts the techniques of the new with the old.

Marshall McLuhan theorizes that, in terms of interpreting art, the “medium is the message”. This is true of Fernandes’ collection, which ultimately reflects the shifting cultural values from the traditional to modern. Fernandes’ interest in this shifting world, as well as his interest in the body and how the body reacts in certain spaces, is skillfully illustrated through the movement and metamorphosis within each of his pieces. During the opening reception of the gallery, guests were given the pleasure of witnessing a live performance of Encomium I, II, II.

It was a unique experience that permitted the audience to view the piece using various senses rather than just through watching the performance on a screen. The dancers performed in the middle of the gallery space, allowing the audience to watch from several different angles and distances.

The intimacy of placing the dancers among the audience made for an awe-inspiring production. The passion between the dancers was undeniably felt in their presence and through their unwavering gaze into each other’s eyes the entire night. Even during their moments of rest, where they would stand at opposite sides of the room, an invisible bubble would form around them as no one dared to walk between their gaze.  It was especially interesting to notice this effect that their bodies had in the room considering Fernandes’ emphasis of his interest in exploring the influence of bodies in particular spatial settings.

Furthermore, the idea of metamorphosis and movement that is portrayed throughout the entire collection could be seen by the way in which their bodies mirrored one another. They relied on the other to hold the pose; if one were to move, so too would the other. It directly relates to two of the other pieces that were showcased in his gallery that demonstrate the mirroring effect using both a traditional method of screen pulling, and also a multimedia technique whereby the images are transcribed onto a computer and are then digitally morphed.

The aforementioned techniques that Fernandes employs are used to illustrate this mirroring effect reflect a struggle for identity within a society of clashing ideologies, specifically, Fernandes’ personal struggle with cultural shifts and his beliefs pertaining to the queer community. His art acts as mediums that depict controversial matters within society, in a relatable manner that is non-offensive. By showing various different techniques of art, Fernandes’ collection tastefully exemplifies a reflection of diversity in cultural ideologies and practices.

For more about Brendan Fernandes visit brendanfernandes.ca and visit his Facebook page. For more about upcoming exhibitions at Brock University Rodman Hall Art Centre visit brocku.ca/rodman-hall

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