May 5 – June 10, 2017
Opening Reception and Book Launch: Friday, May 5, 6 – 9pm
Habitat is a constellation of new work by artist Luis Jacob, who is known for his multidisciplinary practice that destabilizes conventions of looking to highlight the socio-political dimensions of the visual world. Anchoring the exhibition is Album XIV, the newest work in a series begun nearly two decades ago. Each Album is constructed of hundreds of images cut from books and magazines and displayed as an extended sequence without identifying captions or context. Featuring images of city planning, abstract Constructivist and Minimalist art, and references to forms of spectatorship and self-representation, Album XIV also pictures the work of various Toronto artists and particular moments in the city’s development, grounding the work in a specific place and history.
Album XIV is bracketed by two works that explore how images frame ways of seeing and structure how we understand place. Arranged as a frieze-like storyboard, Sightlines emerges from the artist’s extensive archive of postcards chronicling a century of urban development in Toronto. Public Domain, commissioned by Jacob, is a series of signs by Wayne Reuben, the sign painter responsible for the retail aesthetic of Honest Ed’s. These exuberantly phrased slogans—painted in the vernacular of the beloved Toronto discount emporium, recently closed to make way for condo development—allude to the complexity of Toronto’s history and its present moment of accelerated change.
More than a chronicle of Toronto’s visual history, Habitat queries the relationship of the city’s culture to its economic life and its forms of self-identity (both projected and submerged). The exhibition continues Jacob’s role as a renegade semiotician—an artist whose reordering of images exerts conscious and unconscious pressure on the ways that people assign, experience, and reconfigure meaning.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Album XIV and Sightlines will also be published as limited-edition artist books in partnership with Perish Publishing—allowing these images to recirculate beyond the gallery.