Sunday, February 3, 2008

HORSES on Carlaw, review

featured artists : aleks and sylwia bartosik written by Jen McNeely, President of She Does the City on-line magazine. 11/28/2007
When I saw an image of artist Aleks Bartosik and her sister Sylwia holding hands emerging from an alley clad in dainty dresses and adorned with HORSE HEADS I was immediately struck with the beauty of this image.
For those of you with siblings, their performance art will likely conjure up images of childhood when playing little people, lost orphans or backyard pioneers was so powerful that any sense of reality was thwarted by an overwhelming imagination. Everyday problems like parental fights, looming homework or schoolyard bullies could be conquered with an escape through play.
One memory that particularly comes to mind is when, for what seemed like days, my sister and I created an entire community of families with magazine cut outs. The naming process, breakdown of ages and relationships was so thorough that we felt like Gods. In one fell swoop I decided a tornado would hurl through the village strewn across the bedroom floor.
The organized imaginary world was ruined instantaneously and all our efforts to create a cohesive environment vanished. Being the older sister, I had control over these Mother Nature catastrophes, and my poor younger sister was left crying and deflated feeling like her careful hours of time devoted to these paper people was for nothing. GAME OVER.
These major decisions then were indicative of an age where play began to disappear. Being ten or so at the time, I had grown sick of the village and decided that I'd rather wander downstairs and watch TV. However, for the younger sibling this was devastating, as she was nowhere near the end of the game.
How do we as adults return to this world where reality is frozen and play dominates our mind and spirit completely?
As adults we drink, dance and screw to have fun. This is how we remove ourselves from the routine of hard work, difficult times and stress. Perhaps if we adorned ourselves in costume, and held hands through the streets or tapped into our inner child more often we wouldn’t require so many vices, and would return to a spot in time where things stood still and closet doors led to magical worlds. It’s difficult to do this for several reasons, but perhaps the scariest being that if we try we may fail and be struck with how distanced and jaded we’ve become since childhood. .
I asked Aleks what inspired her and she responded sincerely: People. I'm inspired by the particularities, delicacies, sensitivities, beauties and obsessions held within relationships between lovers, siblings/twins, friends, strangers, or themselves. I like to observe the visible (and accessible) interactions between people and the situations they are placed in and re-create my own scenarios and my own environments and narrations.
If people were to walk away and express your Horse Head art in a few words, what would you want them to say? What is the thought that you want people to leave with having seen this work? I want the viewers to have experienced some sort of a visual pleasure. Entered some sort of an imaginary land or situation. I am not particularly sure what I would like them to say, but I know what I would like them to experience. Perhaps they may say something like: "That was strange." in a delightful sense or a frightened sense. The Horse Heads (a work in progress) are rooted in a larger and deeper narrative, but I purposefully want them to appear playful and child-like.
Unlike most of the Featured Artists, I found it very difficult to sit down and write about the HORSE HEADS. The sight of them swarmed me with memories, feelings and emotion; the fragility of childhood, power of the imagination, and preciousness of magic.
Some art is difficult to verbalize yet makes us feel completely alive. I have described the HORSE HEADS performance as best I can and can only hope that if you are walking down Queen Street one day and are greeted by two sisterly mares, that you become overwhelmed with soft childhood memories – the kind that pull at your heart.
Beyond cavorting through the streets with this enchanting performance piece, Aleks Bartosik is also an accomplished painter. You can view her work at:

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