Monthly Archives: June 2010

6 years, 8 months ago 99
Posted in: show

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Setting up the final shot of the Fragility series before packing away the dolls for the flight to Berlin. Those last two weeks were such a blur of sleepless nights and working-like-a-zombie-days, that I don’t remember much of what happened. I don’t even recall how I finished the last couple of dolls. Short term Amnesia. Really. After I got some sleep in Berlin and recovered a bit, I was pleasantly surprised that they turned out very nice.

I think I’m wearing my airport clothes in the shot.

6 years, 8 months ago 111
Posted in: New Doll

Fortunatar 2010

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This porcelain doll is wearing a one of a kind, sterling silver crown and an East Indian wedding saree over her thick, silky and exceptionally long hair. Her face is a new limited edition design inspired by the ancient Kama Sutra paintings. The crown style is influenced by both Russian and Turkish headdresses and although very tall and intricate, it is very light.

Fortu-n-atar is my fictional deity of the trading caravan routes who protects and helps navigate the caravans to safety in the harsh and dangerous environment of the world’s deserts. Although she is very rarely seen, the sound of singing dunes can signal her divine presence and protection.

Sometimes the eerie sound of singing dunes can be accompanied by a distant, shimmering mirage of a beautiful, young woman with copper-colored skin a bright veil standing in the hot sands, which is considered to be a sign of great luck and fortune. Such rare sightings are revered as an extraordinary blessing; however, one must never try to approach the mirage, as this act can bring ill fortune, financial ruin and even death to the traders and travelers who experience it.

Olga Larina. 2010

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Porcelain doll in a Limited Edition Sterling silver Bonnet and one of a kind, remodeled Sterling Silver shoes. Wig is magnetic. Bonnet is removable and attaches with a pin and a bow.

This doll is based on a literary character from Eugin Onegin novel by Alexander Pushkin. Eugin Onegin is a brilliant novel in verse, set in the 18th century Russia and Olga is the younger sister of the main protagonist of the story Tatiana Larina, and the more traditional symbol of feminine beauty of the two women.

Unlike her unconventional, dark-haired and slightly Emo sister, Olga is a perfect Romantic heroine, and her perfection makes her almost uninteresting in the eyes of the author to develop her character in great depth. It is after all Tatiana’s story, not Olga’s, but both of the sisters suffer from tragic love and loss in different ways. This is how Pushkin describes Olga. I tried to capture his words in my own language of porcelain.

Of Olga…..

Всегда скромна, всегда послушна,
Всегда как утро весела,
Как жизнь поэта простодушна,
Как поцелуй любви мила;
Глаза, как небо, голубые,
Улыбка, локоны льняные,
Движенья, голос, легкий стан,
Все в Ольге… но любой роман
Возьмите и найдете верно
Ее портрет: он очень мил,
Я прежде сам его любил,
Но надоел он мне безмерно.

Of Olga. Loose translation.

Always modest, always obedient,
Always cheerful as the morning,
Simple as a poet’s life,
And sweet as a kiss of love;
Eyes blue like the sky,
Smile, hair as linen,
Movement, voice, and easy grace,
All in Olga … But take any romance
and find her portrait to be
Very lovely indeed,
I used to be infatuated with it,
But it has bored me immensely.

6 years, 8 months ago 24
Posted in: Uncategorized

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So, I’m a big fan of True Blood. It’s a show about vampires and humans co-existing almost peacefully in modern society. It’s a really interesting show and a good parallel to social equality movement such women’s rights and gay rights.

I’m not particularly into vampires, and I especially despise Twilight, having only seen previews for the movies. But True Blood is alright; it’s original, because it gives human vs supernatural theme a somewhat new slant. Oh, and it’s full of all kinds of entertaining things most cable channels would consider too vulgar to show. The narrative is very engaging too. And Alexander Skarsgard is in it. Needless to say, it’s my favorite show right now.

So, imagine how delighted I was to hear a brief mention of Elizabeth Bathory in the last episode! No, not my doll, but the actual person. I mean, whoa, I had just made a doll of her! And they bring her up in the show! I almost fell off the chair when I heard it.

Anyway. The doll Elizabeth Bathory was just sold a couple of days ago. Amalgamation is gone too. Only three dolls remain available at this point: Virgin, Olga and Fortunatar.

Man, I still can’t get over the coincidence. It’s like the universe knew!

6 years, 8 months ago 31
Posted in: travels

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Something awesome has happened in Basel aside from the art fair this year: I finally met in person my kindred spirit, a fellow artist and a long time internet friend- Nati.

After years of making plans to visit each other, fate has finally intervened and decreed that Nati and I should be in Basel, Switzerland at the same time. Even after we made plans to meet in a certain place at a certain time in Basel, we actually ended up accidentally running into each other point blank in a completely different place in Basel. Turns out it’s a small city. Or a small world. It was a pleasant surprise, though neither of us recognized the other at first, or simply refused to believe that we could just run into each other like that in a city that was foreign to us both.

We spent the rest of the somewhat warm afternoon hanging out on the bank of river Rhine, nibbling on snacks and drinking these really cool miniature bottles of wine. Both, mini wine bottles and the whole drinking outside thing were a very exotic novelty to me, because outdoor drinking is illegal in Vancouver. The whole experience was very pleasant and I even got a little sun burn.

Nati is awesome. I’m so glad we finally met. Even if the circumstances were a little strange.

Don’t know who Nati is?  Find out by checking out her site.

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6 years, 8 months ago 38
Posted in: show

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Here are all the dolls from the Fragility show together in a group shot.  Posing them like this was a fun challenge; fun in trying to get them all to fit together, but a challenge to have them not block each other.  Seems each one wanted to steal the focus of the shot.

At this point, most of the show is sold out and all but five dolls remain available at the gallery.

We’re at the art fair in Basel with the gallery until tonight, but tomorrow we’re parting ways as Chad and I leave for Bern and the beginning of our actual holidays in Switzerland. Woo! I hope the weather improves. Sightseeing in the rain is unpleasant.

6 years, 8 months ago 27
Posted in: Press

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Here’s a short clip from the radio interview I did with Motor FM in Berlin, promoting the Fragility show, along with Yasha Young from the Strychnin gallery.
I expect to get the mp3 of the full interview soon, I’ll post it when I do (even though this clip shows most of my segment, most of the rest is Yasha speaking in German).

Watching this interview I notice that I guesture a lot, which doesn’t really work when on the radio…

Link to the video

6 years, 8 months ago 52
Posted in: New Doll, show

I will be posting the artist’s statements I wrote for each doll that were hung next to them in the gallery. I was wanting to do it earlier, but didn’t get around to it with all the preparations for the opening.

Anna Karenina Survives The Train. 2010

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This one-of-a-kind engraved, porcelain doll, features a complex, full-body, color tattoo of an orthopedic corset and a prosthetic leg device. Face is one of a kind. Magnetic wig is removable, and permanently styled into intricate braiding adorned with a Victorian copper comb.

This doll is based on the main protagonist from the majestic and tragic novel Anna Karenina written by Leo Tolstoy. I tried to re-imagine Anna’s heartbreaking love story with a different ending where she survives her horrific suicide attempt at jumping under a slow-moving train, but sustains severe, disfiguring injuries, losing her left leg, mangling her left arm and breaking her back instead.

I took the metaphor of straight-laced, yet decadent attitudes of Victorian Russian society that governed and ultimately decided Anna’s fate, and interpreted it in a literal, visual way as her medical bondage braces and prosthetic devices, which now literally hold her shattered body together. She is protected, yet restrained by the inhumanity of social conventions. I wonder if surviving her suicide would make any difference in her destiny despite her transgression of the status quo.

Amongst a myriad of deeply philosophical issues, the biggest question that the novel Anna Karenina leaves one with is perhaps whether love can really conquer all.

A part of me wants to believe that Anna’s near death experience would serve as a powerful epiphany for her and her lover count Alexey Vronsky, and transform their deteriorating relationship back into a loving union it once was, but a realist in me questions this idealistic approach, rationalizing that her difficult situation in life brought on by breaking the social rules and conventions of the day, and can not have a long-term, happy resolution unless all the stigma of her illicit relationship is removed and her public image reinstated.

The incident may cause a profound spiritual awakening for her and Alex, but they will continue to face the same external problems of gender inequity, which have undone their powerful love before.

Sadly, their first near death experience is a testament that perhaps love does not conquer all: When Anna nearly dies during childbirth and Alexey shoots himself in despair of losing her, both survive and are overcome with gratitude and love for each other, but their happiness is fleeting as it provides only a temporary, idealized escape from their difficult situation, followed by an eventual boredom, loneliness, frustration and inevitable return to a grim reality.

Will this, second near death experience with an added problem of Anna’s disability be any more profound and lasting than the first? Perhaps, but I’m skeptical.

And yet, a romantic in me believes in Anna’s life, while John Milton’s quote from Paradise Lost encourages me to believe that perhaps there could have been a happy ending for Anna Karenina after all:

“The mind is its own place, and in itself, Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.”

Perhaps Anna and Alex could have made their own heaven in the hell that they found themselves?

I re-imagined the climax scene where Alexey finds Anna broken, but alive instead of dead and mutilated on the table at the train station where they had carried her body, and the despair and grief of her ugly death turns instead into relief and a renewal of their love for each other. Just like in Disney movies, they embrace, kiss, and ride off into the sunset, leaving their superficial selves, the superficial society that bred them and all its false idols behind to live happily ever after. The End.

The Bloody Lady Elizabeth Bathory. 2010

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One of a kind, porcelain, ball-jointed, costumed doll. A very complex costume is assembled from 23 separate, original Sterling Silver pieces with 24k gold plating and an Indian wedding saree skirt. All clothes and accessories are removable. Face is one of a kind. Removable wig is magnetic.

This doll is based on a real historical figure of Transilvanian countess Elizabeth Bathory (17 August 1560 – 21 August 1614), from the renowned Báthory family.

Allegedly, Elizabeth was a sadistic serial killer who tortured and murdered as many as six hundred girls in a span of 20 years. Despite going down in history as the most prolific female serial killer with a kill rate of mythological proportions, there is very little historical evidence against her. In fact, when considered in a larger historical and political context, it appears that Elizabeth was a victim of an aristocratic conspiracy with a resulting mass hysteria, and that her original accusers were politically, financially and possibly, ideologically motivated.

Regardless of evidence, history appears to be infatuated with the image of this woman as a ruthless murderer, even if this image is nothing but a myth. Her presence in history is as mysterious and secretive as her enigmatic smile, which could hide either a twisted sociopath, or an innocent victim of slander.

Although we will never know the truth behind the Bloody Lady Elizabeth Bathory, we must consider these following historical facts before condemning her:

There is the lack of the most basic proof: the victim’s names. There aren’t any official names on record of Bathory’s alleged victims, or bodies for that matter. It was said that she had killed daughters of peasantry as well as lesser nobility. But who are these missing women exactly?

The logistics of murder don’t make sense either. Elizabeth was accused of killing around 600 girls in 20 years. That means she killed 30 people a year. That’s 1 murder every 12 days. How could such a visible public figure get away with such an astronomical kill rate for 20 years, in a region with a population of much less than three hundred thousand people? Where was she getting all these women and why was virtually nobody noticing this, except for one single minister Istvan Magyari? One would think that if daughters were going missing left and right every month in villages, there would be some sort of a public concern and even a panic. Instead, the “rumors” of murders had began to spread only after the official investigation had already started.

Another interesting detail is the fact that when King Matthias of Hungary ordered the investigation into the rumors of murders, he was heavily indebted to the wealthy and influential Elizabeth Bathory. Based on flimsy, hearsay witness testimony, King Matthis had her imprisoned without any formal trial, conviction or further punishment and avoided having to repay her the large sum of money for which he lacked sufficient funds.

Elizabeth Bathory’s case happened at a time of religious upheaval and hostility in Hungary. As a Transilvanian Protestant aristocrat, she was a political opposition to King Matthis, who was an Austrian Roman Catholic.

My final argument in favor of Elizabeth Bathory’s innocence is that her case shows evidence not only of political conspiracy, but also of the mass hysteria phenomenon, where a runaway public fear clouds all rational judgment, leading to escalating panic and severe miscarriages of justice. Such cases and trials are often characterized by absurd accusations, unfounded witness testimony, extremely biased public opinion, coercive interrogations and incompetent investigative techniques.

I see a distinct parallel between Elizabeth Bathory’s murder investigation and the of mass hysteria of the famous Salem witch trials of 1692, the Kern County Satanic ritual child abuse hysteria of 1983 and the West Memphis Three murders of 1993, where all accusations began with one person and grew out of thin air into frenzied fear and everyone conveniently forgot that a person is innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.

6 years, 8 months ago 24
Posted in: show, Uncategorized

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The show has finally opened, all the dolls are finished and on display, and I want to thank everyone that came to the opening, both in person and on the live webcast.

The opening went really well, I feel like I didn’t stop talking the entire time as I tried to answer everyone’s questions.

I had a really good time at the show, but I’m glad it’s over and I can take a bit of a break.  The weeks leading up to it are all a blur as I worked to complete everything in time.

The dolls will remain on display at the Strychnin Gallery until July 4th.

For those that go to the show and take pictures, we’ve made a flickr group where you can share them with others.  We will be uploading our shots from the opening soon, but for now it’s off to Switzerland to attend Art fair Scope Basel (June 15 – 19, 2010) where one of my dolls will be on display.

6 years, 8 months ago 20
Posted in: show

For those that can’t make it to Berlin tonight, the Strychnin team have rigged up a webcam and are streaming video from the gallery.

*edit: Link removed as the stream has ended*

6 years, 8 months ago 14
Posted in: New Doll, show

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Only one day left until the show!  Still a bit more work to do for the setup.