A new show at aceartinc. takes the familiar and makes it wondrously strange.
Artist Dong Kyoon Nam, who recently relocated from Victoria to Winnipeg to teach at the University of Manitoba, gets most of his materials from dollar stores, big-box hardware retailers and Walmart. His sculptures are constructed from electrical appliances, common household objects and extension cords--lots and lots of extension cords.
"Fans" (Dong Kyoon Nam)
A work that at first seems like a mysterious, tangled form eventually reveals itself as two standard electrical fans, facing each other in what could be a fond embrace or a hostile stand-off. They are wrapped, almost hidden, in dozens and dozens of white extension cords.
Another piece, which looks to be formed from a pile of red electrical cords, looks squat and stolid. Press a nearby pedal, and you hear the noise of the shop vac that is buried underneath. It's funny and a bit disconcerting.
Fluorescent lighting tubes snake around the wall, illuminating the space but also holding hundreds of small black squares, the stripped-down mechanisms of cheap alarm clocks. The cumulative effect of the clocks' ticking is an aggressive, insistent hum, like a swarm of insects devouring something.
Nam takes mundane objects and transforms them, making us suddenly aware of them in new ways. He's interested in binary systems, not just in the off-on function of a light switch but in the polarities of ideas. As he says, "I want to turn familiar things into unfamiliar things."
In his work the electrical appliances that are supposed to be our domestic servants turn into possibly threatening entities. Objects that are clearly mechanical take on weird, organic outlines.
In this clever, beautifully concise exhibition, the comfortable becomes uncanny.Vacant Circumstances: this and something else, by Dong Kyoon Nam, runs at aceartinc., 2-290 McDermot Avenue, until October 18.