Location: Barry & Stephanie Zekelman Gallery, 2nd floor
Into the Light brings together a series of immersive artworks that are familiar and disorienting at the same time. Using photography, video and objects, artist Sigi Torinus develops multi-sensory installations that ask viewers to consider how individuals navigate space and one's assumptions of places that are foreign or unknown to them. Of German heritage, Torinus grew up in the Caribbean islands of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, well before it was touted as a prime vacation destination as it is today packed with all-inclusive resorts and hotels catering to holiday-makers as the tourism industry, is one of the prime drivers of its economy. Since then she has lived and worked in Germany, California, USA, and for the past decade Torinus has made Canada her home. The experience of migration and movement echoes in her art practice as she experiments with light and sound in poetic and playful ways to create images and environments that are constantly in flux, visible and intangible at the same time. For this exhibition Torinus returns to the Caribbean to develop a body of work that explores the trope of an island beyond its geographical and topographical meaning but rather as dialectic between location and dislocation, isolation and connection, absence and presence.
This exhibition is named after a large-scale video installation, Into the Light, which captures the everyday life, urban spaces and daily rituals on the streets of cities across Cuba, where she has family. The central recurring image is the word REVOLUCIÓN written on various walls. It remains visible only for a few seconds at a time, and becomes obliterated by pedestrians passing by, traffic and various other ‘distractions'. It serves as a metaphor for the grand ideas and concepts we have in our lives that give us orientation, at times turning into dogma, or serving as something that calls to be challenged. In her artist statement, Torinus writes, "Interruptions and interventions are necessary as 'breathing space' for developing both concrete solutions to the ‘grand' idea as well as possible alternatives." The perception of the text itself changes based on the different colors, fonts and spaces in which they are rendered. In this way, the artist reminds viewers that ideas and meanings change over time and never remain static. Into the Light, the installation, offers viewers glimpses into the everyday life in a variety of cities in Cuba where she made the work. Contrary to the simplistic, idealized images of the beaches and sand that the island represents for North American vacationers, this installation conveys the nuances and intricacies of daily life it's diverse culture and people that remain hidden from the mass media. Torinus takes her research further by exploring the myths and rituals that are passed down generationally through oral traditions and practice while mining personal and collective memories of island culture in the Virgin Islands and beyond. The phrase, "into the light", can also be understood as, "making something known"; "disclosing a secret" or "the act of narrating". Similarly in this exhibition, Torinus playfully activates multiple of ways of seeing, listening and understanding an idea, a belief, a place in ways that transcend stereotypical assumptions with a world view that is vibrant, eclectic and changing.
Sigi Torinus was born and grew up in the US Virgin Islands. She studied Fine Art, Philosophy and Art Education in Germany and received her MFA from the Braunschweig Art Institute, Germany, and San Francisco State University in California. Informed by her nomadic life, Sigi's work explores our perceptions of the migratory journey, through time and space, in both physical and digital worlds. Her art returns time and again to the themes of origin, departure, navigation and destination.
Sigi Torinus has presented internationally on New Media / Electronic & Temporal Arts / Performance Art in both universities and galleries, among them York University Toronto, White Mountain Academy (Canada), Maryland Institute College of Art, Sydney College of Art, Canberra School of Art (Australia), University of Melbourne (Australia), Monash University (Australia), the San Francisco Film Arts Foundation (USA), the Adelaide Film & Video Festival (Australia), The International Symposium on the Transition from Analog to Digital Imaging (Australia), Siggraph, California (USA), Southern Exposure Gallery, San Francisco (USA).
Curated by Srimoyee Mitra.