Everything Leaks – The myth of photography and its presence in contemporary life

Contemporary culture has become dematerialized and digitized. | Photo courtesy of Polygon Gallery

The Polygon Gallery opens a new exhibition by artists Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes and Maya Beaudry, where photography is used to discuss the present era of visual information overload.

In the exhibition Everything Leaks the artists take familiar, everyday images and render them mysteriously. The mixed media exhibition uses stickers, watercolor and mixed media to discuss the present aesthetic era –
the one of visual information overload. Inspiring curiosity and perplexity, the works displayed at the gallery argue that images can shape what we think about and the ways we think about them.

The exhibition is an experimental collaboration by Holmes and Beaudry, both graduates of Vancouver’s Emily Carr University of Art and Design. “[Audiences will] see unexpected images embedded in collages, drawing from myriad sources, as well as photographic images printed in unlikely places, such as on fabrics,” says curator Justin Ramsay.

Everything Leaks is an attempt to create dialogue with a contemporary culture that has become dematerialized and digital. It uses tactile surfaces, such as fabrics, sculpture, and printed photographs to speculate on the ways in which photographic images entrench themselves and live within the human psyche.

“Photographic images have become integral to our news, entertainment, social and romantic lives, professional personas, and family correspondences. They’re very public, but also highly personal and idiosyncratic,” explains curator Justin Ramsay.

“We tend to speak about photography like it’s a discrete thing, but how do we begin to wrap our minds around something that takes on so many forms, and plays several huge, simultaneous, overlapping roles in our lives?” asks Ramsay. “Marisa and Maya are looking critically at photographic images – which we often read as being flat, a single surface – and visually unpacking all this complexity that lies within them.”

“Photography especially has become the lingua franca of our present day, with so many people carrying cameras and millions of photographs being uploaded to the internet every day. It’s crucial to think critically about where images come from, or the contexts in which they appear, in order to make sense of the visual inundations we navigate every day,” says Ramsay.

The materiality of images

As the curator points out, between Marisa’s dense image collages and Maya’s overflowing, kaleidoscopic sculptures, the exhibition reminds everyone that there is a material basis for every image we see – even online ones.

“Somewhere, every digital image is stored on a hard drive, which takes up space and consumes electricity, which in turn consumes resources. Images don’t exist in the ether; they both reflect and exist within the real world. This is a point I feel the artists emphasize through the layered, often tactile nature of the works,” says Ramsay.

To the curator, Everything Leaks shows rich composites of images that seem to compress within frames or flow beyond them in works that span photography, collage, sculpture, and textile. “Some works by Marisa also incorporate the frame sculpturally into the artwork, making it indistinguishable from the image itself,” says Ramsay. “There’s a myth that photography is authoritative and truth-telling, but behind every photograph – even the most seemingly documentary – is a particular subjectivity. Marisa’s and Maya’s works play with this a lot, using re-photographed details, cut-and-paste techniques, and even printed fabrics sewn to expose the contrivances of image display, and also to reimagine the boundaries of the frame.”

Everything Leaks will run from Dec. 11, 2020–Feb.7, 2021 at the Polygon Gallery. For more information, please visit www.thepolygon.ca