Preternatural was an exhibition of contemporary art that explored the themes of nature, wonder and the extraordinary.  The exhibition featured both Ottawa/Gatineau based and international artists who employ a variety of media including photography, video and sculpture.

Curated by Celina Jeffery
Dec. 9, 2011 - Feb. 17, 2012, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The Museum of Nature, Installation View.

Comprising of three exhibitions at venues across Ottawa: The Museum of Nature, St. Brigid’s Centre for the Arts and the Patrick Mikhail Gallery, Preternatural sought to explore the boundaries of the natural and the liminal space where the natural and unnatural collide.  All photos by Rémi Thériault, unless specified.

The Museum of Nature (produced and presented by):
Marie-Jeanne Musiol, Mariele Neudecker, Anne Katrine Senstad, Sarah Walko and Andrew Wright

Marie-Jeanne Musiol, The Radiant Forest, Energy Herbarium, 2011, Electromagnetic photographic installation.

Mariele Neudecker, 4.7 km = ~ 3 Miles or ~ 2.5 Nautical Miles, 2009, Mixed media including metal, stereo lithography, glass and water.

Anne Katrine Senstad, The Sugarcane Labyrinth, 2011, Video still.

Andrew Wright, Nox Borealis, 2011.

Sarah Walko, It Is Least What One Ever Eees, 2011.

At the Canadian Museum of Nature, there is both reverence and enchantment in Mariele Neudecker’s (UK/Germany) tank vitrines which capture, invert and re-make nature. Andrew Wright’s (Ottawa, Canada) photographic installation of an inverted Arctic scene at night conjures disorientation, bewilderment and curiosity. Marie-Jeanne Musiol (Hull, Canada) uses electromagnetic photography to create an energy herbaria, in which plants reveal a luminous structure with information contained in their light fields. Sarah Walko’s (USA) It is least what one ever sees, is a highly intricate installation that comprises of many hundreds of tiny, disparate sculptural and live objects that seek to create an alternative, uncanny natural world. In The Sugarcane Labyrinth a video by Anne Katrine Senstad (Norway), we encounter the making of a labyrinth on a farm in Theriot, Louisiana, USA, which engages with local farming strategies in an act of sustainability, recovery and rejuvenation of this vulnerable coastline.

St. Brigid’s Centre for the Arts:
Adrian Göllner, Avantika Bawa, Anne Katrine Senstad

Adrian Göllner, Handel’s Cloud, 2012, Site specific installation.

Avantika Bawa, [..#..#...], 2012, Site specific installation with sound by Aaron Wintersong. Photo by Natasha Chaykowski.

Anne Katrine Senstad, Kinesthesia for Saint Brigid, 2012, Site specific installation with sound by JG Thirwell. Image courtesy of Preternatural and Anne Katrine Senstad

At St. Brigid’s, a deconsecrated church in Lowertown, Ottawa, three international artists create site-specific installations. In Adrian Göllner’s (Ottawa, Canada) intervention, puffs of white smoke appear in time with Handel’s Messiah from the ornate vaulted ceiling, gesturing at an ethereal presence. Avantika Bawa (India/USA) seeks to subvert, tease and create a play of artifice in an otherwise unique and extraordinary place with her interventions that involve the placement of trapezoidal paintings (acrylic on canvas) along the pews, a yellow ramp on the altar and the playing of the musical key of ‘e’ from a ‘boom box’. Anne Katrine Senstad (Norway) further investigates the tradition of mystical melody with The Kinesthesia of Saint Brigid, a video projection which frames the organ at the rear of the church with an intensely colorful effect.

Patrick Mikhail Gallery:
Shin Il Kim

Shin Il Kim, Invisible Masterpiece, 2004, Image courtesy the Artist.

Lastly, Shin Il Kim’s (Korea/USA) animated video projections and drawings at the Patrick Mikhail Gallery bridges the spectral inquiries at St. Brigid’s and the subversions of the natural world at the Museum of Nature exhibit. Kim’s white figures are so soft and indistinct that they also seem to float in front of the viewer like apparitions, poised for interaction, but suspended in an unknown, ethereal state.

The exhibition was accompanied by a catalog published by punctum. The catalog features the essay Beyond Nature by Celina Jeffery and another by Levi R. Bryant called Wilderness Ontology.

With thanks to Natasha Chaykowski, Nancy Webb and Jaenine Parkinson for their assistance in the production and marketing of this show.