Critics’ Picks

Marcel van Eeden, Untitled, 2010, graphite on paper, 7 1/2 x 11”. From the series “The Lone Lake Murders,” 2010.

Toronto

Marcel van Eeden

Clint Roenisch
190 Saint Helen's Avenue
April 23–May 29, 2010

Marcel van Eeden’s exhibition “The Lone Lake Murders” pieces together a fictitious weekend event in September 1922 around the perimeter of Lone Lake, a fitting nonplace for a noirish story. In the exhibition, which takes its title from an old found pulp novel, a fragmented plot pans out over twenty-six small works on paper that are installed on matte black walls, which underscore the somber mood but also imitate a museological display.

These works are the latest in an ongoing project van Eeden began eighteen years ago, wherein he vowed to complete one drawing a day based on photographic source material made before 1965, the year of his birth. Ranging from bloody crime scenes to banal exteriors, his tonal graphite pieces maintain an aloof photojournalistic style, but some have evolved to incorporate floating elements that suggest an oneiric state. Paired with comic-book-style captions and placed in sequence, the drawings generate meaning en masse and suggest a mysterious narrative. In several, the words AN APPEARANCE allude to the overlapping character histories in van Eeden’s epic project. For example, Oswald Sollmann, a fictitious archaeologist whose name is a mix of Lee Harvey Oswald’s and that of a lesser-known professor of pharmacology from Cleveland, reappears in this story as either an observer or a perpetrator.

Delving into this archive, van Eeden is like an archaeologist too, albeit an indiscriminate one. By working in an area of inquiry that predates his existence, he builds a personal legacy rather than participating in erasure. As most of history is already a convenient fiction, van Eeden’s revisionist tactics fill in the blanks to write an absorbing story.