Culture  Home and the rules of the game

Nostalgia, nationhood and shuttlecocks at Concordia exhibit

The mysterious title of Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts (FOFA) gallery’s newest exhibit “The Echo Game” is explored through an eclectic range of media. The symbol of an echo can embody a reverberation, a reflection, an imitation, and even a replica. Combined with a game, which denotes humour and absurdity, an echo takes on a playful role of repetition and rhythm, referencing one art through the simulacrum of another.

Upon entering the gallery, a three-photograph series of bare and wild landscapes by Stephen Brace hit you with their stark beauty. The artist ensnares a nostalgic feeling of home, using his works to wrestle with his homesickness for Newfoundland. These scenes strike a feral rusticity that is somewhat reminiscent of cold English moors and Scottish highlands. Among these cold landscapes stands a small nude model, a lone figure in the middle of the untouched land, absorbed into the scenery. The symbiosis of nude body and nature creates a discourse on identity and landscape, and for Brace, the echo of his homeland.

Similar in context to Brace’s ode to Newfoundland is Annika Steimle and Rihab Essayh’s representation of home. Their art echoes the representation of home by posing meaningful questions of where one finds refuge: in the place where they were born, where they live today or somewhere else? Formed out of tarlatan, a ghostly silhouette of a house hangs suspended in the air. Much like a fragment of memory, the installation is not fixed. This commentary of the mutable idea of home leaves the viewer pondering the concepts of nationhood and ethnicity.

In contrast to the two intensely emotive and personal pieces on home, a piece by Terrance Richard strikes the beholder with a humourous depiction of sport taken out of a competitive athletic environment. Two inkjet prints depict a football goal and a soccer field populated with players, and a sculpture of a badminton net emerges from the wall next to it. Titled Rule Play, Richard’s work seeks to deconstruct the norms of sport and “play” with the meanings in a cheeky double entendre.

Social codes dictate that we are supposed to compete while in the playing field, but the placement of the net attached to the wall prevents this interpretation and the viewer is left bewildered, gazing at half of the badminton net. Richard’s artwork takes the associations of sport out of the usual athletic context and plays tricks on the traditional tropes of black-and-white striped referee uniform in order to challenge the conventions that normally shape our perception of the sport culture.

“The Echo Game” is an altogether beautiful compilation of personal, emotional, and material representations of the games we can play with echoes as well as the echoes of games we used to play. Both moving and humourous, glib and ponderous, the exhibition is truly a showcase of some of the great talent that Concordia has to offer.

“The Echo Game” runs at Concordia’s FOFA gallery until February 14.