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Becky Singleton



24 September – 21 October 2001


Wit and irreverence are hallmarks of Becky Singleton's art, irrespective of the medium she uses. The photographs, film, and published multiples included in this exhibition investigate the representational properties of image and text. Although most of Singleton's key works explore the process of interpretation and the creation of meaning through language, they persistently thwart any attempts to fix meaning. Unlike captions, which are perhaps the most familiar form taken by words beneath images, text in Singleton's art does not limit interpretations of the image. Here, language is not so much emptied of meaning, but stretched and expanded through play.

Drawing on visual styles associated with pedagogical materials such as manuals, and training guides, an instructional modes informs the Dials, How To photographs, and the Talking Ball series. The expository nature also extends to the film installation, Six Projections, though, in Singleton's words, "Six Projections is, in both the literal and figurative sense of its name, just what it is."

The Talking Ball, for example, resembles the guiding bouncing ball that television or film viewers are exhorted to follow and sing along with if they don't know the words. Its captions, spare in Talking Ball Series no. 1 and comparably voluble in Talking Ball Series no. 2, draw attention to the gap between phonetics and the visual appearance of letters, or the distance between signifier and signified.

Shown here for the first time, the Girl Guide Sequence and Beauty and the Beast are video stills from dramas staged by Singleton. The presence of children's stories - Little Red Riding Hood in the Dials and the eponymous Beauty and the Beast - point to the process of acquiring language and of learning to read. Though Beauty and the Beast ends happily, it can be read as a cautionary tale - appearances can be deceiving.

Born in Toronto, where she currently lives and works, Becky Singleton attended the Ontario College of Art and has worked in sculpture, film, and photography. She has had solo exhibitions at the Christopher Cutts Gallery (1998,1995), Art Metropole (1990),and the London Regional Art Gallery (1984). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2000, 1981) and the Art Gallery of York University.
Art Gallery of York University | Accolade East Building, 4700 Keele Street | Toronto ON M3J 1P3 | agyu [at] yorku.ca