Stupid Heaven Kelly Mark

September 14 - October 21, 2007

Curated by Barbara Fischer


Co-presented with the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto

Works from the exhibition
Special Events

Opening Reception
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery
Thursday Septmeber 13

Free bus tour of University of Toronto galleries starting at noon at the University of Toronto Art Centre, continuing to the Doris McCarthy Gallery (UofT at Scarborough), the Blackwood Gallery (UofT at Mississauga), and returning to the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at Hart House at 4 pm. Kelly Mark and Barbara Fischer will introduce the exhibition at the Blackwood and Barnicke Galleries. Sunday, September 23, noon to 4 pm.

Closing Reception
Sunday October 21

Exhibition Statement

The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (Hart House, University of Toronto), in collaboration with the Blackwood Gallery (University of Toronto at Mississauga), presents the first major survey of works by Kelly Mark in Toronto. Bringing together key works from the last ten years, the exhibition includes drawing, sculpture, video, performance, audio work, as well as multiples and recent, television-based projects.

Among the shelves of Kelly Mark’s studio, filled with CDs, books, and other things, a punch clock clicks every minute and sounds with a loud clang in 1-hour intervals. For over ten years now, Mark has diligently punched time cards, signing in and signing out for the time she spends making art. The time cards are part of “In and Out”, a monumental work she has pledged to continue until ‘normal retirement age’ – even though it is already in a private collection. This matter-of-fact diary of labour, combined with Kelly Mark’s self-proscribed persona as a worker, and the evidence of work as repetitious task – all this has earned Mark the reputation of working class hero in Toronto’s art community.

An interest in everyday moments and monotonous activity is mixed in Kelly Mark’s work with deadpan humour and self-deprecatory purpose. In some of her earliest works, she focused on obsessive collecting and filling time with virtually nonsensical tasks like counting the grains of salt in a salt-shaker. More recently, her focus has shifted away from filling time with her own activity to making her work or her own presence the frame by which to observe the flux of time, of repetition and events, and of ritual endeavor in the world. One series of photographs records the same mannequin in a changing window display over the period of a year; another series documents the multifarious improvisations by which people have managed to attach notes to broken parking meters. In “Hiccup”, a multi-channel video-recorded performance, the artist is seen spending an identical amount of time doing exactly the same thing in the same location over several days, and thereby highlights the constancy of change around her – the weather, the light, traffic, people.

The current exhibition brings works from the late 1990s together with her recent interests in television, the medium which feeds on time as no other. Rather than taking issue with the content of television, however, Kelly Mark has been interested in the more oblique aspects of its presence, such as making installations that consist simply in the glow of the flickering light that it casts, specific to program genre – Porn, Romance, and so on. The exhibition culminates in the four-room installation of the new feature length video mash-up, titled “REM”, which has been culled from over 170 different sources broadcast on TV and painstakingly edited together into a tour-de-force, dream-like narrative, where characters lose themselves in others, where time warps, reality turns into dream and back again. The story is shaped as if to wrest meaning out of the experience of channel surfing, including attention-span disorder which might be the temporal condition of television watching.

-Barbara Fischer

The circulating exhibition and forthcoming catalogue is a joint production of the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, the Blackwood Gallery, and the Mount St. Vincent University Art Gallery.

Artist Biography

Born in 1967, Kelly Mark studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax before moving to Toronto. Her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions across Canada and internationally. She is represented by Wynick/Tuck Gallery in Toronto and Tracey Lawrence in Vancouver.

Installation Views

This exhibition was generously funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.