Ancient Aliens: Fifth Dimension Descension
In her work, Tagny weaves lens-based mediums, installation, text, and performance, to explore spiritual and embodied expressions of grief and resiliency in correlation with nature’s rhythms, cycles and materiality. Her work often focuses on gardens and disrupted landscapes as sites of memory, inscribed in dynamics of power and colonial legacies. Unadorned Landscapes presents a series of new works that questions the relationship between land and extraction. In response to the question of making home, Tagny asks, how do we create it? Where do we take from? How do we transform? Central to the exhibition is a video work which takes place in a construction site at the new University of Montreal campus, near where the artist grew up. Following public consultation, the campus—located in the historically wealthy neighbourhood of Outremont—has integrated a pedestrian bridge connecting it to the previously enclaved lower-income neighbourhood Parc-Extension, which is now experiencing a wave of gentrification. For this series of works, Tagny used a temporarily accessible open pit as a space in which to create an unrehearsed performance, one that foregrounds emotive and spatial responses to a once familiar place. The movements that subsequently emerged re-situate the body as a valid site of experience, which—despite being uprooted—embodies the memory of that site, points to the impossibility of erasure, and questions who has to produce the labour of extraction. This is reflected through the performers’ responses to the land through gestures of support, touch, synchronicity, and separation—none of which was choreographed in advance. Unadorned Landscapes highlights the resemblance between nature and extractive sites despite their disparity: the former being a nurturer of life, and the latter one that displaces it. As the artist notes, many of us now live in places that are removed from the production of food. The installation that surrounds these works echoes this sentiment and reorients viewers away from the gallery structure and towards the instability of a site in transition, containing natural materials that appear ambiguous in their function. By extension the large-scale photograph NW3 Landscape—part installation and part object—features a scanned iPhone image of an empty commercial real estate space in London, England. In the windows of the retail space, large vinyls depicting scenic landscapes are discarded on the ground, leaving the windows both empty and reflecting the surrounding community on its surface. Recalling the advertisements Tagny leans on in the video work, NW3 Landscape sits between object and ephemera, building and extraction, and idyllic and dystopian. Embodying the state of transition Tagny’s work questions, Unadorned Landscapes reveals the instability of shelter, nature, and presence in the face of extraction and ownership.