Freedom fighters: Virginie Laganière, Dean Baldwin and Juan Ortiz-Apuy: Liberty or death

Liberty or death

Post Natural's shelter from the storm

Artists Virginie Laganière, Dean Baldwin and Juan Ortiz-Apuy fight for freedom

Freedom and fear have always been rich ground for artists – both are common to all our lives and often in precarious balance, whether personally or through global politics.

Centre Clark brings together two immersive environments that explore this balance. Virginie Laganière found inspiration for her site-specific installation Post Natural during a six-month residency in Switzerland, where she discovered that the country had the most fallout shelters per capita. Using built structures, photography, sound, lighting, text and video, Laganière turns the gallery space into a family fallout shelter, a surveillance office and a station that observes outside activity, juxtaposed with a replica of an alpine landscape set to a soundtrack of accounts of life during the time of the Cold War.

"The Cold War is not so far away from us in history," says Laganière. "There are still many references made to it, in everyday life and on a political level, it’s just that the tensions between the Eastern bloc and the West have changed."

While evocative of that era, Post Natural is also a setting for speculative fiction, a commentary on present-day fears. "I’m interested in how fear can produce new forms of space, place and new relationships to them," says Laganière. "I’m sure there’s a way to tame fear as a creative element in which we can learn a lot about human behaviour."

Going back in time to a different kind of freedom, Toronto artist Dean Baldwin’s Bunk Bed City installs bunk beds and a kitchen in the gallery, uncannily inviting us to relive days spent at summer camp, wavering between joy and anxiety in a half-wild place far from home.

At Galerie Push, Juan Ortiz-Apuy’s The Freedom Fighter Manual reproduces pages of a CIA manual dropped over Latin American countries during the ’80s. Here too, we’re caught in a struggle between the freedom provided by knowledge and the limitations caused by surveillance "for our own good."

Post Natural and Bunk Bed City

At Centre Clark (5455 De Gaspé), vernissage Jan. 20, 8 p.m., to Feb. 26

The Freedom Fighter Manual

At Galerie Push (#425, 372 Ste-Catherine W.), vernissage Jan. 20, 6 p.m., to Feb. 27

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Visual Arts