Fall Out


In Collaboration with the Blackwood Gallery

September 14 – December 13, 2009

Curated by Christof Migone

Live the lives, live them all,
Keep the dreams separate,
See: I rise, See: I fall
Am an other, am no other.

Paul Celan (1)

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Photo credit: Toni Hafkenscheid

An exhibition bound by gravity. An exhibition where to be bound by gravity will be considered, diverted, inverted. Some work will defy gravity (Kempinas), others will simultaneously defy and confirm its inevitable pull (Litherland and his skydiving projects). Yet others will allude to the rise and fall in Celan’s epigraph and feature the ebb and flow of breathing (Keirulf) as well as his notion of the self as ‘other’ (Jones with her implicit reference to The Man Who Fell To Earth). Tactics involving wind and magnetism, amongst others, are recruited to counter the fated force of attraction which ties our feet to the ground and keeps the Earth spinning around the Sun. Orbits are relationships defined by thwarted falls, they dance the push and pull pairing of two bodies. The physiological and psychological impact of gravity will warrant particular attention in this exhibition (with a special nod to Philippe Halsman’s Jumpology project). Fall Out will also be a study of outcomes, epiphanies and consequences (Maly).

It will be an examination of remnants and how they act as triggers in perennial permutation—in other words, Fall Out will dwell on a fall out that never settles.

Fall Out will be followed by Fall In. Artists in the second exhibition will respond to the works in the first exhibition. During Fall In both will coexist in the gallery.

The pairings:

Annie Onyi Cheung will respond to the work of Simone Jones
Sophie Bélair Clément will respond to the work of Tom Sherman
Gillian Collyer will respond to the work of Kristiina Lahde
Zev Farber will respond to the work of Valerian Maly
Alison S.M. Kobayashi will respond to the work of Paul Litherland
Ryan Park will respond to the work of Erika Keirulf
Roula Partheniou will respond to the work of Zilvinas Kempinas
Josh Schwebel will respond to the work of Robyn Cumming
Josh Thorpe will respond to the work of Don Simmons

Fall Out
Fall Out Fall In
Fall Out Fall In Fall Through
Fall Out Fall In Fall Through Fall From
Fall Out Fall In Fall Through Fall From Fall To
Fall Out Fall In Fall Through Fall From Fall To Fall With
Fall Out Fall In Fall Through Fall From Fall To Fall With Fall Under


Globe and Mail (November 7, 2009, R12), pdf, review of Fall Out and Fall In by Leah Sandals.

With trees putting on their yearly show of vibrant golds, scarlets and oranges, one might think the ideal point of departure for a seasonally themed exhibition would be colour and hue. Not so at the Blackwood Gallery, a rigorous academic space housed on the leafy campus of the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Its two-part autumn show, Fall Out and Fall In, was sparked not by fall colour but by the tumbling, mulch-ward destiny of that foliage, bringing together works that riff on gravity and downward motion. “I like themes that are somewhat redundant, like falling in the fall,” explains Christof Migone, director and curator of the Blackwood. “Everyone has an image of falling. But how to amplify that and make it more complex, that was the challenge.” The strongest works from the first half of the show,Fall Out , which opened earlier this fall, well exploit those tensions between simple and complex. Torontonian Simone Jones’s film, Perfect Vehicle, shows a futuristic, speedy-looking machine advancing at a funereal pace across desolate salt flats. With observation, it’s revealed that the machine is moved forward by the rise and fall of the passenger’s chest as she breathes. It’s an absurd, yet humane, gesture – sci-fi light-speed fantasy on a slo-mo bio-dynamic timetable. Zilvinas Kempinas’s O Between Fans, like similar works by this Lithuanian-born New York-based artist, is a desligh, with two fans keeping a plastic loop perpetually dancing in the air, seemingly freed from gravity. Kempinas’s installations are as direct and naked as a science-museum set-up, but are also oddly spiritual and poetic. Montrealer Paul Litherland is represented by two remarkable skydiving videos, Force of Attraction and Freefall Fighters – films that marry macho adrenalin with sobering intimations of mortality and fear. Force of Attraction in particular yields this uncanny mix, as the camera focuses on Litherland’s face as it morphs during a few minutes of the free fall. Seeing the artist’s skin and cartilage turn to mere putty in the atmosphere’s hands is by turns amusing and anxiety-provoking – Cindy Sherman-esque self-portraiture meets extreme-sports risk. Interestingly, the second half of the exhibition, Fall In, which opened in late October, courts risk in a different, rather self-reflexive way. For it, nine new artists were matched to respond to the nine original Fall In artists. “A recurring thing in stuff I do is this element of failure,” explains Migone, “not failure in a derogatory way, but more in being vulnerable. I was also thinking of dominoes, of cause and effect, of one thing or fall triggering another.” Indeed, some of the Fall in artists undermine the works they were ostensibly inspired by – albeit in a witty, open-ended fashion. Roula Partheniou brings a slapstick to Kempinas’s science with a well-placed replica of a banana peel, suggesting there’s more than one way to become airborne. More pointedly, Josh Thorpe adds a viewer-activated on-off switch to Don Simmon’s Bachelor Forever, a fascinating verticle-line-tracing robot that Simmons initially argued was completed self-contained. With the flick of a finger, Thorpe’s addition converts Bachelor’s proclaimed solitude into something intrinsically relational. Unfortunately, experiments in failure sometimes turn out to be just that. Some viewers may have been put off, for instance, by the exhibition’s installation procedure, which continued a couple of weeks into each half of the show. The result: ladders and power-drill noise that interrupted and obscured viewer experience. Migone explains that what some might see as poor planning was actually intended as pedagogy, “I wanted to focus on the installation as a process,” he says. “We’re a university, so I also saw it as a way for students who come by the gallery regularly to see how an exhibition goes up, to demystify it.” Migone admits that in the future he might make that choice more clear. Installation quibbles aside, the Blackwood’s current project delivers a stand-up effort – even if it is about falling down. With eclectic program events like astronomy lectures and breakdancing sessions, Fall In and Fall Out rejects autumnal cravings for conceptual comfort food. The result is uncertain yet enjoyable: a walk through a different kind of changing autumn woodland.