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Erin Fraser : At The Ministry of Casual Living

Fri. September 26th 2003 - Thu. October 9th 2003
nteractive performance/installation with UVIC MFA Erin Fraiser in attendance.refreshments.everyone admission

Presented by: Tommy Lacroix

I had a beef in for stuff when Erin Fraser showed up here. I arrived to see the affairs to the operation in tatters. A gallery near ruin, ravaged from abuse and all but given up for loss. The cat had been away....Then Ms. Fraser shows up. I'm impressed, not simply by her handsome appearance, although her subtle charm was not lost on me. It was her Manner. For it was all her own. The gallery, her art, the situation at hand. This kid gets things done.

Let us now get on to the discussion of her new work. Untitled, it consists of an inverted bouquet of 6 identical prefabricated appliances. Not immediately identifiable to all, electrical charcoal briquette starters, much like a dense loop of the element from a stove, they are no more than a plug, cord, handle (with engraved safety instructions), and coil. The 6 "starters are bundled together at their handles with electrician's tape. The whole thing hangs down from the ceiling, cords hung from a central hook. "Not much to look at" was the artist's over arching self effacement, for when plugged in, this contraption immediately took on the appearance of a dim, threatening chandelier. What used to be; the idea of a chandelier.

One is not even supposed to glean this sensoric closure in appreciating Erin Fraser's work here.
The structure is left turned on only in daylight. In broad daylight the burning elements do not glow, all that is presented as novelty to the viewer is irradiating electric heat, and heavy doses of EMFs which were something. They made themselves ever present, constantly lurking, just behind you. The structure would writhe and sputter occasionally, and you could see this was less from rising heat than from amperage and gain.

Erin Fraser sat in the gallery for the duration of the demonstration of this object/principal. This action related to, and informed, the plastic components of her work in several ways. She was meant to intervene if safety was about to be breached. She acted as a distraction to the viewer, disallowing the quiet contemplation of visual focus. She appeared more and more one with the object, like the best performance art - her actionism is rooted in sculpture.

It was successful because the first thing everyone noticed was the heat.

Seeing Erin sitting in the little school chair The Ministry provided for her endurance/stay, I began to feel I had not felt for a long time. She had informed the entire space with an atmosphere of a distant dream...only by entirely artificial means. It was similar to how I have felt upon entering into places of psychiatric unrest. Not bedlam, but the muted, over-upholstered, artificial re-assurance emanating from places for the Practice of the Medicine of the Damned.
Presented by: The Ministry of Casual Living
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