For grunt gallery’s curatorial contribution to Capture’s public works series, we have selected an image from Impatiently Inclined’s series, Human Nature–Last Supper. The collective, comprised of Theo Pelmus, Kris Snowbird, and Daina Warren, have been building a series of work that connects these three artists from vastly different backgrounds by finding points of commonality through process.
The selected photograph harkens to Da Vinci’s Last Supper, but is also an image laden with signifiers of a vernacular specific to Snowbird’s home. Carefully suspended with an imperious gravity, the composition is initially easily recognizable through a lens of Western art history, but quickly distorts and begins to speak through another dialect. Snagged between these two visual languages, the dialogue of this image broadens into a wider net of questions in Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations while the informal composure of the images participants shapes a new lens wherein the subjects are unconcerned with facilitating that translation. Behind the table, a dancer looms from a seemingly liminal distance, expression obscured by a bulky circular mask and standing in place of Christ’s seated and haloed figure and further disambiguates the gathering taking place. Then, the horse; a supplemental offering presented as mundane but further pushes the image toward a tableau of Lynchian suspension.
The image captures a point of departure; it draws attention through the ubiquity of religious iconography, but falls back easily and unruffled into its own vernacular. Doing so demonstrates the power in abandoning the tension that often comes from a pressure to conform to Western art history citation to become legible. What remains in the space between the languages of this image is if the viewer is entitled to an answer, or must consider the discomfort in encountering a barrier in understanding. While potentially frustrating, this question is also the power of this work and that power is managed through a carefully considered act of withholding that is both protective and humorous.
This work is both familiar and poignantly illegible; placing this work within the urban landscape allows it to lend its dissonance in the overpacked social situation of urban spaces by presenting a not entirely decipherable intimacy.
Presented in partnership with Canada Line Public Art Program–InTransit BC.