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Visual arts review: Jane Kidd’s Curious and group show Material Remains at MSVU 

A pair of shows use textiles to explore gender and the environment

click to enlarge Jane Kidd, “Curiosities, pairing #4” (2013). - SUBMITTED
  • Jane Kidd, “Curiosities, pairing #4” (2013).

Jane Kidd, Curious and Material Remains
To August 26
Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, 166 Bedford Highway

Meticulously and intricately hand-woven, Jane Kidd's tapestries in Curious explore human agricultural intervention and ideas of a "post-natural" world.

In her three distinct series: Wonderland, Curiosities and Land Sentence, she composes strange landscapes and collages, merging botanical studies with GMO seed catalogue numbers, satellite images and nods to environmental destruction. In the Land Sentence series, Kidd's uses infrared and satellite technology to explore human impact on the land, creating seemingly radioactive landscapes. In Curiosities she creates her own mutations, merging animals, plants and mechanics to form strange hybrids, exploring the endless and somewhat monstrous possibilities of a world without natural restraints.

In her richly woven assemblages, Kidd explores the environmental Frankensteins and freaks, and poses troubling questions regarding our own complicity in these experiments.

Material Remains, the accompanying permanent collection show on the gallery's mezzanine and stairwell, continues these environmental inquiries, while also raising the conversations of gender that are so intimately tied to textile production. Like Kidd's tapestries, many of these works tread the line of fantastical and monstrous. Nancy Edell's hooked rug "Spiracle I" (1998) is composed of fragments, like ancient Roman floors that were tiled to resemble carpets, scattered with insects and strange creatures that look like bacteria blown up to nightmarish human proportions.

Svava Juliusson's "Blanket Sacrifice" (2003) recalls a 2001 cull of sheep to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, creating "carcasses" out of colourful wool and stuffing them with discarded clothing, their forms piled on wooden pallets. Like Kidd, the soft, familiar materials of the textiles are inviting, a sugar coating on the subject matter's bitter pill.

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