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Donigan Cumming: Ex Votos
21 Jun 2008 – 10 Aug 2008
Donigan Cumming Epilogue 2005 (detail)
collage and encaustic on wooden panel
Courtesy of the artist
The internationally renowned, Montreal-based artist Donigan Cumming is known for his staged portraits of the aging, ill and socially assisted poor, in the form of photographs, videos and photographic collages. Cummingís work deliberately attacks the objectivity claimed by traditional documentary media. His disturbingly intimate images have been influenced by Artaudís theatre of cruelty, Surrealism and cinéma vérité, among other historical art forms. Robert Enright comments that, there are times when Cummingís work is almost unwatchably abject. What retrieves it...is its humour, as dark as it is.
Cumming works with a committed group of friends, models and professional actors. His videos deploy fictional monologues by the artist and his subjects, plus sing alongs and reminiscence to explore themes of loss and alienation. Together with selected videos (1996-2005) and the photo installation The Stage (1990), the exhibition contains two new 8 x 14-foot photo-collages (Prologue and Epilogue) that transform Cummingís earlier, intimate material into epic narratives with biblical overtones. As the artist describes them, these dense collages are a collective portrait of the community that Iíve been working with for twenty years.
In her essay, Cultural Studies scholar Jackie Davis analyzes the Christian rhetoric that pervades much of Cummingís video production, as well as the compositions of Prologue and Epilogue (2005).
Financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts is gratefully acknowledged.
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