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"DeHuman: Daniel Erban, Dennis Michael Jones, Ed Pien, Balint Zsako"
2006-07-14 until 2006-09-08
Kenderdine Art Gallery
Saskatoon, SK, CA Canada

These prolific artists all practice within a drawing tradition, each creating artworks which are figurative, gestural, linear, bestial, horrific, transformative, emotionally vibrant. The Dehuman exhibit consists, firstly, of a showcase from each artist. Additionally, in an attempt to pull meaning and focus away from their individual practices and towards a larger collective gesture, all of the artists involved in Dehuman participated in a collaborative series of drawings (completed using the mail throughout 2005), which debuted at this exhibition. DeHuman features work by Daniel Erban, Dennis Michael Jones, Ed Pien, and Balint Zsako.

Dehuman Catalogue: A 24 page full-colour catalogue has been prepared to accompany the exhibition on its tour (available June 2006)

This publication includes colour plates featuring the work of each participating artist. The textual component includes an essay by curator Mark Laliberte, with an accompanying essay by Robert Enright (a recent recipient of the Order of Canada, Enright is the Editor-at-Large for the Winnipeg-based arts magazine, Border Crossings and is the University Research Chair in Art Criticism at the University of Guelph.)

Altered States:
Notes for a Collaborative

A group show is always a container. For the marked duration of an exhibit, the gallery is to be occupied by a cast of solo players who are interconnected by curatorial thinking and probable technical or conceptual concerns. Those involved will possibly know one another through career travels or via media coverage/ art industry documentation, but otherwise may have little creative overlap in the real world. In this sense, the group context offers a distanced but clearly understood professional dynamic.

In a sideline attempt to pull meaning and focus away from the singularity of artistic practice and towards a larger collective gesture, the artists that I invited to exhibit in Dehuman were also asked to consider participating in a collaborative series of drawings, to be conducted using the postal system in advance of the main event. This idea was met openly by the entire group, adding a small but crucial facet to the dynamic of the Dehuman project; as an undertaking, it offers a very rare opportunity to extend the group show context beyond its normative structure towards a more fluid structural position in which we see a collection of artists overlapping artistically in a very real way. This facet of the project also provided me with a way to partially subvert the uncomfortable role hierarchy that the title of “curator” automatically implies – it’s a hat I only occasionally choose to wear, and it still feels peculiar when I have it on. In an inclusive gesture, my participation as the fifth artist in the collaborative process offered a kind of token blurring of the accepted institutional boundaries… down with another imaginary wall!

By accepting my invitation to collaborate, Daniel, Dennis, Ed and Balint exposed their practices to the temporary presence and influence of ghosts. The collaborative mind must be a flexible one; it must open itself up to outside voices: to their passions, distractions, and subversions. The land that a collaborative work colonizes is always alien terrain. The process, naturally, is littered with continual turns into unmapped geography despite all attempts to get a bearing.

For much of 2005, a leisurely game of creative corpse-making took place using shipping tubes and an exchange schedule structured to allow all involved opportunities to start a work in the series, to finish one, and to be caught in the middle the rest of the time. We did not adhere to the rules of the historical, cadavre exquis game. Rather, we chose to invoke this Surrealist working scenario in spirit only; the participants simply treated this opportunity as a way to “draw together”, in any manner they saw fit. The results are playful and inquisitive. Though individual styles are visibly present, they become parts of clusters, image clouds floating across unfamiliar paper skies. In each work, clean personal processes submerge and interact in ways that create interesting overlaps in narrative space.

Though the Dehuman exhibit is still primarily a focus on individual accomplishment, these works are, to my mind, exceptional examples of what can happen when creative minds share a common space. In the end, five sheets of paper have done their job, providing a context that allowed this group to ever so slightly rub shoulders with one another before entering the arena of display. I wish to thank all the participants for their willingness to experiment at this level.

-- Mark Laliberte, Dec 2005

Dennis Michael Jones has been a Premiere Portfolio Member at absolutearts.com since 2004. View more of his work at http://www.absolutearts.com/portfolios/d/dennisjones/

Dehuman collaborative work, 2005
(one of five works in the series)

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