Critics’ Picks

Kelly Jazvac, Sticky (detail), 2008, recycled vinyl collage, dimensions variable.

Toronto

Kelly Jazvac

YYZ Artists' Outlet
140-401 Richmond Street West
September 6 - October 18

Kelly Jazvac’s installation work Sticky, 2008, features scraps of vinyl, discarded by fabricators of advertising signage. These shiny bits of waste have been stuck together to form seven textiles, positioned throughout the gallery on makeshift pedestals or backdrops made of humble plywood or cardboard. On the floor, viewers first encounter a doormat-size piece composed of long cream-hued strips. The work’s thinness, glossiness, and propped-up position, along with its seductively glistening golden vinyl border, render it just enough of an aesthetic object to prevent unknowing visitors from wiping their feet, or a janitor from sweeping it away entirely.

In contrast to such smaller and mainly monochromatic pieces, a sizable multicolored tapestry of vinyl fragments has been draped over a crude plywood support leaning against the wall. The piece seems provisional—unfinished or drying—an impression emphasized by holes in the composition and by shiny textures, resembling wet pigment. These qualities serve to foreground further the process-based nature of Jazvac’s project: as a labor-intensive, potentially ongoing and expanding assembly of fabric that addresses the activities of creasing, sticking, melding, folding, bending, and crinkling. It is almost as though Jazvac were attempting to demonstrate the tensile strengths and physical limitations of her lowly material, as in the case of artist Geoffrey Farmer’s similarly sticky situating of masking-tape rolls and strips in his installation Entrepreneur Alone Returning Back to Sculptural Form, 2002. Jazvac’s emphasis on differences in contours, textures, and shapes—ranging from crudely ripped and jagged to neatly folded and rounded—also recalls Lee Krasner’s collages from the 1950s that redeployed discarded paintings by her husband, Jackson Pollock.

Yet Jazvac’s practice finds its own set of ecological overtones, as a salvaging enterprise that might result in a wearable quilt or a habitable shelter. Thorough scanning of the tapestry, though, reveals hints about the vinyl fragments’ individual origins as parts of myriad marketing campaigns: Details such as airbrushed and blurry bits of landscape or the collar of a shirt seem fragmentary and ambiguous—and as such, they function as a critique of advertising industries that thrive on conveying messages that bring about a comforting sense of wholeness. Jazvac’s clever work denies such seamless communicability and challenges us to reevaluate how we fetishize and aestheticize images and products.