Andrea Carlson: Eat-All

September 27, 2014 to January 18, 2015
Curated by Jenny Western
Artist talk with Andrea Carlson: 

Eat-All is Minneapolis-based artist Andrea Carlson’s first solo exhibition in Canada. The exhibition showcases new and recent work whose references range from museum collections to exploitation films.  Her artworks relate to the story of an object, and how objects are utilized as surrogates for cultural exchange. These ideas are expressed in selections from Carlson’s ongoing series VORE.

VORE revolves around storytelling and narrative as a means of conveying power and authority. The series’ two main source of inspiration come from public collections and exploitation films, an incongruous pair perhaps, but one where both platforms present images and symbols influential to the wider concepts of culture. By aligning the two, Carlson imagines museums as not only a primary cultural storyteller but also as a devourer of cultural materials. In her own words Carlson muses that VORE, “depicts a grand buffet of this creature, a buffet of cultural detritus, holy and symbolic, washed up on the shore.”

As its name suggests, VORE addresses cannibalism, employing the term as a metaphor for issues of cultural appropriation, consumption, and assimilation. Bringing together oil, acrylic, ink, color pencil, and graphite on paper, viewers will notice Carlson’s penchant for creating loaded environments. Objects drawn from museum collections are depicted floating above seemingly pop-art inspired ranges while hints at Carlson’s own Ojibwe-French-Scandinavian heritage linger in the background. Texts such as “Apocalypse Domani” and “Eaten Alive” are incorporated and create, as Carlson puts it, the appearance of movie posters designed by someone who has not yet seen the film.  

Exhibited alongside VORE is her massive ten by fifteen feet piece Ink Babel. As Carlson explains, “although rendered in ink, the repetition of the imagery is inspired by the physicality of film sequencing.” Ink Babel’s sixty overlapping paper panels present ten parallel seascapes referencing the mythic Tower of Babel. Carlson has long looked to film and movie culture for artistic inspiration and Ink Babel takes her practice a step further by playing with the tropes of cinematic technique and asking the viewer to operate as the viewfinder. Within the large work audiences will find a “zoom-in” effect on a depicted pig as well as a “deep focus” view of one of the work’s towers.

In a bid to explore how one might present a landscape unfolding in two directions, Carlson has managed to create a static dual pan-shot of this dynamic panorama. When viewed from a distance the individual objects become consumed by the overall V-pattern of the piece, yet up close Ink Babel reveals a world composed of disparate items. Images of scorpions, salamanders, fish bones, shark teeth, cellphone towers, lighthouses, attack helicopters, plus a murky appearance from Christopher Columbus’ infamous ships the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, all seem to fold and unfold over each other as the audience’s eye is drawn through the vista. In much the same way that the biblical Tower of Babel jostled humanity’s grasp of communication and interpretation of concepts, Carlson’s Ink Babel prompts audiences to take another look at what they are seeing and how they are seeing it.     

Andrea Carlson lives and works in Minneapolis. In 2003 she earned a BA from the University of Minnesota and an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2005. Her work has exhibited widely while gaining support through several fellowships including the Minnesota State Arts Board (2006) and McKnight/MCAD Foundation Fellowship (2007-08). Carlson was a participant in Plug In ICA’s Summer Institute in 2010. 

Plug In ICA acknowledges the generous financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Manitoba Arts Council, Winnipeg Arts Council, and the US Consulate Winnipeg.