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Archival Impulses

Aug. 26, 2014 - Nov. 26, 2014

The visible unpacking of postcards, family letters and envelopes that veers between compulsive hoarding and careful collecting. An assembled collection of stitched and hand-drawn melancholic poetics on a worn Fruit of the Loom tee shirt. Archival Impulses, the Drake’s fall exhibition, focuses on archives and ephemera, with an emphasis on the history and effect of printed materials, and how artists react to this particular form of vital materialism.

From the Museum of Jurassic Technology to the Encyclopedic Palace, overzealous spirits of the contemporary moment continue to transform the unfathomable phenomena of objects and rarities into a memory theatre of categorized curious items. The exhibition opens with JP King and Kalpna Patel’s “Dance Lessons,” a site-specific installation in the glass vestibule. King, a collage artist, printer, and self-described casual historian, maintains an inherited archive of printed materials he deems an access point to a family, a generation, and a country he never knew. Kalpna Patel, a craftitian known for her store window displays, worked with King’s archive, building a miniature shrine for the objects to be both displayed and revered.

In the front lobby, Cameron Lee’s “No Favourites” displays his process of collecting in a series of images and objects, making public his observations and tendencies. Interested in the smartphone user impulse to document and share everyday observations via Instagram, Lee’s installation extends from that process, displaying many years of collected items and images to reveal the connections and feelings or associations they recall.

In the back lobby, a grid-like hanging of event posters from the Will Munro estate (courtesy of the Art Gallery of York University’s collection) explores the tireless community-based work the local artist, DJ and promoter engaged in before his death in 2010 at the age of thirty-five. Known for bringing together seemingly disparate communities via his legendary parties — often collaborating with local artists and collectives like Luis Jacob, Team Macho, Kevin Hegge, Jaime Sin and Danny Buchanan — Munro used the posters to not only promote the events but also make present the historical symbolism and references of queer DIY underground culture.

The cafe includes two framed works by Brooklyn-based British artist Simon Evans. Known for his highly-detailed, text-based works, Evans transforms simple, everyday materials - in this case, a tee shirt and a sun-bleached poster board, respectively — into objects of concrete poetry. And, at the top of the lobby stairs, the figurative “Untitled” collage work from Paul Butler hangs. Taken from the series What’s Within, the Winnipeg-based artist works with images taken from Scott Schuman’s The Sartorialist street style blog to comment on our consumption of mass media.

Whether it’s driven by the archival impulse to make lost and displaced historical information suddenly present, or the magical pull of a printed material’s liveliness, we gather and re-arrange the found as a means of becoming. Three of the site-specific installations (King and Patel, Lee and Munro) will be re-activated midway through the exhibition. Archival Impulses invites audiences to engage with not only the aesthetic and symbolic gestures of archiving, but witness it as an ever-evolving process.

Special thanks go to the artists, the Art Gallery of York University, David Balzer, Danny Buchanan, James Cohan Gallery, Division Gallery, Corinne Gerber, Stefan Hancherow, Joseph Henry, Rosemary Heather, Kevin Hegge, Luis Jacob, Marra Katz, the Will Munro Estate, Team Macho, Vanessa Rieger and Jaime Sin.