For the first installment of the RBC Work Room, artist Zachary Ayotte and music duo Nulle Part worked together on an on-site creative collaboration for a developmental period of six weeks. The artists worked in the space and revealed their creative practices to the public and allowed gallery visitors to see the progressive development of the exhibition from beginning to end.
Working with sound, installation and photography, Shelter is an exhibition that plays with the boundaries between public and private, light and dark, seen and unseen. Artist Zachary Ayotte shares his experience with “Ten Thoughts on Shelter” that will be shared over the course of three installments.
Like most of us, I have a number of lenses through which I see the world. One of them is that of a gay man living in Alberta. I think if you are being technical I am considered a sexual minority. I once read an article that described sexual minorities as invisible minorities, presumably because we don't wear our sexual preference on our skin. The more I thought about that term, the more I was bothered by it. Invisible minority. Like a photograph, this term flattens. It reduces people to surfaces. But we tend to project onto surfaces. When reading a body we often become interested in what is inside the body. Who the body is. What the body does. We often think less about what is in front of the body. What exists in the space between us and what we look at.
The first question I was asked when the projection of the eye went up was “Whose eye is that?” to which I responded, “I'm not going to tell you because it doesn't matter.” In truth the answer is, it's nobody's eye. It's a projection of an eye. Of course that answer always proves unsatisfying because when we are responding to works that can is directly drawn from the real world we want backstory. I am more concerned with front story: What happens between a surface and the viewer?
One last thought on invisibility. The suggestion that sexual identity is invisible denies the ways that we make the invisible visible. A look that lasts too long: a gesture, a touch. To suggest invisibility is to suggest that those things should not be seen and should not be witnessed.
I often feel disconnected from my body. I think it is part of the reason that I am drawn to photographing them. It allows me to understand the importance of bodies occupying spaces. Of bodies existing in spaces. But also of allowing desires to inhabit spaces. To allow perspectives to inhabit spaces.
I purposely made a series of projections that are incongruent with Nulle Part's composition. Every 6.2 hours my projections and their composition will sync up but otherwise they will be free to loop at their own pace like two left hand turn signals that share a fleeting moment at an intersection.
I wanted to encourage people to spend time in the room and I wanted to create the possibility that viewing the work at different times would yield different results. I wanted to encourage the possibility of having a different experience each time someone entered the room.
When making work, regardless of my other intentions, I am always looking for a balance between two feelings: desire and discomfort. I always want people to want to take a step forward and once they do, wonder if they made the right choice. For me, the juxtaposition of those two feelings allows an exploration of what exists between surfaces and asks us to consider what the surface itself tells us in any given moment.