Sarah Fuller at University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Calgary
A narrative in blue emerges from the exhibition Refugio by Winnipeg-based artist Sarah Fuller at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery. It maps a tale of both place and time, covering islands and mountains, and recounting the life of two insect species in different locales. The exhibition consists of a series of blue-tinted photographs set in Ball’s Pyramid, Australia and the Athabasca Glacier in Banff National Park; a series of sketches of spaces and research drawings; and a video exhibited within a small-scale theatre based on the Paris diorama invented by Louis Daguerre. Through her work, Refugio examines a nuanced vision of still and moving images drawn together through the story of two places.
Visiting these remote locations, Fuller investigated the lives of two near extinct insects: the Lord Howe Stick Insect, thought to have been eradicated but found to be living on Ball’s Pyramid, a small outcropping of rock in the sea off the shore of Lord Howe Island in Australia; and Rock Crawlers, discovered in the Canadian Rockies, a species of insect that has adapted to extreme cold temperatures, so much so that the warmth of a human’s touch can kill them. Through weaving their stories into both the video and photographs, Fuller relates her work back to an overarching theme of climate change.
The photographs, awash in blue, open up to the viewer a vision of lands through a circular lens. Perhaps intended as an ocular effect, as if seen through a peephole, binoculars, or a periscope, the photographs are replicated in the video, but the image is seen to be moving slightly, making the hand of the artist visible and apparent. Aside from colour and texture (both intriguing elements), this aspect of performativity engages the eye and mind in a phenomenological sense, offering an alternative way of seeing.
Maeve Hanna is a writer and curator who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours in Visual Art and Literature from York University and the University of Leeds and a Master of Arts in Art History and Icelandic Studies from Université du Québec à Montréal and the University of Manitoba on location in Iceland. She has previously written for Black Flash, C Magazine, Canadian Art, esse arts + opinions, Frieze, Sculpture Magazine and the Senses and Society. She is Akimblog’s Calgary correspondent and can be followed on Instagram @mcbchanna.