toronto

Janice Gurney

Wynick/Tuck Gallery

The silent-film stills and the turn-of-the-century archival photographs that Janice Gurney reproduces in her work carry a lingering sentimentality. So does the way she crops her images and formats her text, recalling old snapshots mounted and captioned in Victorian albums. These contribute to a comfortable, bookish feel in her work. The format of image and text—no stranger to appropriation art—evokes the act of reading and invests textuality as an alternate world parallel to primary experience. The polemical edge common to the genre is perhaps a result of this. Theory substitutes for performance, acquiring an aggressiveness that compensates for its detached and abstract relation to the real. Gurney’s work runs no risk of this tendency to stridency, as the models for her work are diaristic, not didactic. They offer a contemplative framework—armchair poetics rather than classroom polemics.

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