Through a Troubled Lens

Through the two photo-based art shows on now at the Yukon Arts Centre Public Gallery, curator Earl Miller asks us to look at the troubled side of the landscape.

A well-worn ride-on park toy rusts at the forest’s cut edge; another image draws the viewer into a close-up view of double smokestacks on a coal-fired electrical generating station. The imagery asks us to wonder what we do to the landscape.

The two exhibitions are former Yukoner Michael Yuhasz’s show Scenic City, featuring twenty 30″ x 30″ photos; and Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge show Recent Works, featuring videos and stills.

Condé and Beveridge are a Toronto-based artistic team whose artwork often looks at work itself. They create tableaux of posed actors and props, often taking a painting from art history as their script, adding another layer to their statement.

Take the time to put the earphones on and experience “AIRwave.” The video is a spoof of a 1967 video by the famous Canadian artist Michael Snow. His walking woman motif is widely recognized. In “AIRwave” a businessman is cropped in much the same way. This is only one detail in the overall video, which has its own story arc.

The photographs by Condé and Beveridge are ornate and detailed, dramatizing concerns with the environmental changes we collectively cause as a culture. Bring a friend and play “Where’s Waldo,” picking out a detail and figuring out what it’s meant to symbolize.

By contrast, Yuhasz’ Scenic City photographs include no people at all. They depict human marks on the landscape — old boarded up brick buildings, a bright yellow trailer, a perfectly triangular shrubbery against pale green siding, a new hydro installation on the edge of the woods.

Yuhasz moved back to Ontario after thirteen years in the Yukon as an artist and arts administrator. Perhaps in these photographs we see the culture shock of his return.

In addition to Scenic City, a trade show booth for Yuhasz’s fictitious Great North Development Group — part photography project, part performance piece — greets viewers with its slogan, “Working Today For Our Tomorrow.”

Upright light tables facilitate use of small plastic stereoscopic viewers. As you peer into these appliances, two images overlap to create a 3-D effect.

One photo depicts model bulldozers tearing through roadways in the foreground with background shots of Mount Monolith from the Tombstones Park.

Another lets you look into a model pit mine. This photo is called “Cloudy Range,” the lesser-known name for the mountains right in the Tombstones campground, as well as a model of the proposed bridge spanning the Yukon River in Dawson City.

While the Great North Development Group is listed as a show sponsor in vinyl on the wall, just a little further to the right, the gallery’s actual corporate sponsors’ logos, also in vinyl, catching a different light by this juxtaposition.

Recent Works and Scenic City continue in the Yukon Arts Centre Public Gallery until January 25.

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