Gretchen Sankey

Time and Again

January 9 - February 7

Gretchen Sankey Time and Again

Each of us is a reservoir of kaleidoscopic imagery and cultural data witnessed throughout a lifetime. Our consciousness defies hierarchies of value and, mysteriously, childhood iconography asserts itself with equal relevance alongside world events, landscape vignettes and pop cultural imagery.

My current work is an ornate lacework of themes, notably human folly, cruel humour, dread and, most importantly, the redemptive power of love and hope. As the show’s title implies, Time and Again also considers the fluidity of time and memory. The work evolves from seemingly banal events that have morphed over time, gathering significance by repeated recollection and distillation.

My process begins with an excavation of this material: conceptual hunches lead to free-associative sketching and the creation of small sculptural objects. I then examine the dynamics between forms, noting the energetic rush that occurs when apparently contradictory elements collide. This fusion of disjointed cultural references conveys my fascination with the paradoxical nature of existence; that playgrounds are fields of sophisticated learning; that kitsch artifacts drip with genuine pathos; that the most intensely personal recollection may be resurrected by sighting a particularly promising cluster of bagged Value Village detritus.

As the work develops, the original configuration is layered with additional imagery. These may be overtly narrative or, through abstract visual language, evoke purely emotional associations.

Interactions between pieces and the metaphysics of space determine each configuration’s location within the wall’s picture plane. These decisions are influenced by the psychoanalytic assertion that spatial relationships reflect levels of consciousness--- while the attic may allude to higher reasoning, authority and social norms, passage into lower realms (possibly through trap doors and earthy tunnels) suggests the awakening subconscious. Finally, regarding the exact distance between configurations, I aim to achieve a state in which silent, negative spaces become so charged that they threaten to engulf the configurations’ dense visual chatter.

The viewer’s physiological response is also anticipated: while some pieces stretch upward, others meander toward the floor. To complicate matters further, one’s eyes may be drawn down to a celestial vignette at the installation’s base and up to a subterranean grotto towering high above. As a result, spatial assumptions are destabilized.

My installations resist being deciphered according to preexisting or static symbol systems. They are riddled with a multiplicity of references and inconsistencies of narrative, scale, materials and perspectives. As a result, they celebrate the relativistic, dynamic nature of contemporary experience and honour the viewer’s authority to engage in interpretation according to personal associations.

Gretchen Sankey, December 2008