22 SEPTEMBER - 30 OCTOBER 2005
Rice Gallery is pleased to present Flying School (École d’aviation) and Mandala Naya, two installations by Québec artist Diane Landry. Landry uses familiar objects and shadow play to reveal the mystery of the everyday world. In Flying School, ordinary umbrellas seem come to life as living, breathing entities in a garden of color and sound. In Mandala Naya, Landry creates a startlingly beautiful cathedral rose window using only a moving light, a laundry basket and plastic bottles.
Diane Landry is equally a performance artist and an installation artist, and she conceives her projects without knowing which of these two forms her idea ultimately will take. In both genres she transforms the function and meaning of common objects through her use of movement, sound, light and shadow. In Flying School, for instance, twenty-four umbrellas - some cheerfully patterned and child-sized, others printed in mature florals - stand rooted in the middle of the darkened gallery. Glowing with an inner light, the umbrellas unfurl in turns and then slowly close again. As they expand and contract, they squeeze handmade bellows at their bases, moving at the cadence of human breath and producing tones that mingle into a delicate symphony. A small light at the base of each umbrella provides the only illumination. As the umbrellas open, the lights turns on, casting a kaleidoscope of flowery shadows onto the ceiling.
Shadows play an even more dramatic role in Diane Landry’s 30-minute performance piece The Cod (La Morue), which she will perform at the Rice Media Center on Friday, October 28 at 6:30 pm. In a darkened theater, Landry stands like a DJ in front of two turntables, facing a screen with her back to the audience. Next to her is a repertoire of domestic objects such as an iron, a colander, a bottle of dishwashing detergent, and a hairdryer. In a kind of intuitive trance, Landry deftly places, removes, and juxtaposes objects on the spinning turntables as a halogen light causes their shadows to appear on the screen at fantastical proportions. In their unlikely combinations the mesmerizing, wildly spinning shadows become unexpectedly touching “characters” in narratives created in viewers’ minds.
Though enchanting, Diane Landry’s work is refreshingly honest. She does not hide the origins of the objects or how she achieves her captivating effects. The umbrellas of Flying School stand amidst the tangle of cords and cables that power them, and the mechanisms that animate the umbrellas and squeeze the bellows are clearly visible. Landry does not want to trick or deceive, but rather to expose the simplicity of her work. “It’s magic,” she says, “but you can see it.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Diane Landry was born in 1958 in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Québec. She received a BA in Visual Arts from Laval University, Québec, in 1987, and will receive an MFA from Stanford University, California, in 2006. She has exhibited and performed extensively in Canada and Europe. Landry’s new work The Magic Shield (Le Bouclier Magique) will open at Oboro in Montreal in September 2005. Diane Landry lives in Québec and Stanford, California.