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Suzy Lake & Martha Wilson
22 May – 30 June 1996

The 'blind spot of an old dream of symmetry', Luce Irigaray's citation of the omissions within the discourses of psychoanalysis and Western philosophy, provides a point of reference for the work of Suzy Lake and Martha Wilson from the early 1970s. The focus of this exhibition is performance and masquerade, documented through photography, video and text. During this period both artists produced work centred on the self as medium and addressed the impossibility of self-representation. Through these investigations, both Wilson and Lake work with the 'failure' of representation, and point, through a strategic use of mimicry, to an otherwise invisible rupture in the figuration of the 'feminine'.

This work fits chronologically within the historical boundaries of conceptualism and first-generation feminism, yet both Wilson and Lake received limited exposure within these contexts. These categories are inadequate in and of themselves, and serve to limit the scope of interpretation. This period, for both artists, can be re-evaluated in relation to the American importation and translation of texts by Irigaray and Kristeva in the 1980s. Though these texts did not directly inform the work at the time of its production, there are conceivable links between the processes of critical thought employed in Irigaray's project, and the performance-based work of Lake and Wilson. The assumed division between theory and practice-the 'work' of theory and the 'play' of performance-is often artificial. This exhibition suggests a contiguous relation between theory and practice.

Suzy Lake is a Toronto-based artist. Though her photography may be largely familiar to Toronto audiences, her work from 1970 to 1975 merits reconsideration. Perhaps less familiar to the Canadian context, Martha Wilson taught at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design from 1971 to 1974. She now works and resides in New York. In 1976 she founded the Franklin Furnace Exhibition/Performance Space and Archive, where she continues to work as its director. This she does alongside her own work as a performance artist and writer.

- Lee Rodney
Art Gallery of York University | Accolade East Building, 4700 Keele Street | Toronto ON M3J 1P3 | agyu [at]