Re-creating & remembering

Three artists revisit memories through poetry, photography and collage in The Artel’s current exhibit, Re-Collection

Lee-Ann Taras, Andrew Sims and Bruce Kauffman divulge and dive into memories at The Artel.
Lee-Ann Taras, Andrew Sims and Bruce Kauffman divulge and dive into memories at The Artel.

Memory is a funny thing. Memory is also the source of inspiration for three Kingston artists and their new show Re-Collection. A self-described exhibit “that touches on the empowerment and disintegration of memory,” Re-Collection brings the works of Lee-Ann Taras, Andrew Sims and Bruce Kauffman together in the tiny living room of The Artel.

First there is Sims’ presentation of a series of photographs, representations of his recent battle with remembering who he used to be. In his artist statement, Sims writes that he had two cardiac arrests, which resulted in a coma. When he woke up, Sims had lost his sense of self.

What follows his works is how he negotiated his experiences and describes just how flimsy our own identity can be. Through a series of rather isolating and cryptic photographs, Sims portrays a rather disconnected world—one large photograph of shattered glass is particularly stunning. But Sims’ section of the overall piece does seem to be incomplete—perhaps this is the point, but it would have been nice to see more than four images of his theme.

On the other hand, Taras grapples with memory in her own way. Again, her contribution to the exhibit is deeply personal but has an appeal to an audience even though we might not understand every reference. “I Remember You” is an ode to the artist’s father, who was placed in a home after a battle with Parkinson’s. Taras describes the work as very much a personal expression of letting her father go and what she calls “a testimony of love, mourning and in the end, acceptance.” In a series of collages, Taras combines various materials such as old keys, old family photos, ripped pages of books and personal notes on wood blocks. The pieces look very much alike, with a similar colour scheme of black, red and white running through all of the pieces, which creates a continuity and familiarity in the deeply personal pieces. Although it would have been nice to see a little more variation between the pieces, the collages stand out in their eclectic continuity.

Kauffman, a Kingston poet who bravely placed his poems on the walls of The Artel, has immersed his work within that of two visual artists. Kauffman’s written words do stand up, however, and seem like the perfect linguistic counterpart to Taras and Sims’ visuals. Nine of Kauffman’s poems comprise his portion of the exhibit and range in subject matter, but deal with the author’s own anxieties of forgetting.

Kauffman’s pieces are all quite short and have a very distinct style of clipped lines and repetition of form. Kauffman writes from a variety of different voices—some sound like his own, others sound like past lives and certain narrators sound like an exercise in the poet’s imagination. Each piece is dated, sometimes twice if revisions were made. This tiny detail may be specific to the artist but it is relatable all the same, reminding the reader that these poems belong to a specific time.

Overall, Re-Collection manages to allow the spectator to look at the very personal images and words of three local artists, all the while feeling just familiar enough to relate. The subject matter is foreign and intuitive at the same time, giving us the ability to ask ourselves questions about what we choose to remember, what we choose to forget and how we deal with our own memories.

Re-Collection runs at The Artel until Nov. 9.

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