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The Devilís Workshop
25 Apr 2002 – 23 Jun 2002
Goody-B. Wiseman. Keeping Her Cool 2002. VHS video projection; colour, sound, 3 min. (looped).
They say that "the Devil finds work for idle hands." Curated by Sarah Hollenberg and Spencer Ramsay, The Devil's Workshop explores the implications of this proverb in the works of young artists. Much of the art seems to demonstrate the convergence of art-making with popular pastimes such as love, whittling, loitering, tinkering, hockey, movies, drinking and needlework. All of the eleven participating artists live in Halifax.
In Goody-B Wiseman's "child-like" video, Keeping Her Cool, subtitles hint at an abusive relationship between two stuffed toys. In some ways the video sends up silent film melodrama. But, disturbingly, it also resembles those therapeutic situations in which children are invited to act out unspeakable traumas using toys. It is impossible to decide which set of references is the more compelling.
Equally provocative, Craig Ferguson's Idle Hands are the Devil's Playthings consists of 100 tiny whittled and painted booze bottles in "faux-folk" style. Instead of the traditional subject matter that we enjoy in folk art, Ferguson's wooden bottles evoke the obsessiveness and addictive tendencies that are assumed to drive artistic production.
The Devil's Workshop is a cheeky place. Creative insubordination represents a way for emerging artists to challenge and appropriate the cultural authority of critically acclaimed, "established" art. Success depends on not giving away one's games-hence the innocuous, even unambitious appearance of much of this intentionally subversive art.
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