Burrow: Janice Kerbel, Adriana Kuiper, Liz Magor and Samuel Roy-Bois

Oakville Galleries at Centennial Square (2007) and circulated to Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery, Nova Scotia; and Musée d’art de Joliette, Quebec (2007–2009)

Burrow focuses on the human desire for comfort and escape, and how it can breed isolation and paranoia in an impossible search for absolute safety. It investigates the need for shelter while alluding to its potential to become a barrier to the outside world. The works in this exhibition speak to a yearning for extreme personal boundaries; to become invisible in the hopes of achieving safety and security. More importantly, they suggest the vicious cycle of this process and the relative absurdity of believing that people are capable of self-sustainability, particularly within the conditions of contemporary civilization.

Adriana Kuiper, in her Snack Bar Shelter, built a recreational facility out of cinder blocks, based on a drawing from a brochure on fallout shelters. Absurd and disturbing, it suggests how the nuclear family might pass the long hours while the world is coming to an end. Samuel Roy-Bois’ Ghetto presents the viewer with a claustrophobically enclosed living space visible through a plexiglas window, raising questions about the minimum requirements for human shelter and the loss of privacy associated with homelessness. Two sculptures by Liz Magor (Burrow and Carton II), and her photographic Deep Woods Portfolio, blur the line between human and animal shelters in the forest. Floor-plan drawings by Janice Kerbel from the series Home Fittings generate a cryptic visual pattern from calculations arising from a fearful and obsessive inventory of living spaces.

This exhibition draws attention to a universal, timeless and complex human condition, pointing to individual attempts at refuge in the face of unknown threats. The mindset of Burrow represents a state of ongoing internal conflict at its most basic, human level.

Publication: Catalogue available through Oakville Galleries or ABC books