Tiziana La Melia, Kletic Kink Notes, 2020, UV protected glass, mirror, hand cut collage, hand marbled paper, pressed flowers (borage, rose, black eyed susans), benadryl, wool, string, hand written note, graphite, candy foil, burnt paper, pressed 11 roses cannabis, monster energy drink can, copper foil, glass tin solder, walnut, 59 x 114cm

Framing: Simon Grefiel of ExotiK Custom Framing. Photo: Natasha Katedralis.

Ravi Jackson

Tiziana La Melia

Tania Willard

17:4

18 March - 18 April 2021

Unit 17 is pleased to present 17:4, a group exhibition of works by Ravi Jackson, Tiziana La Melia & Tania Willard. This presentation marks the fourth anniversary of the gallery and introduces artists into the program who will present larger projects with Unit 17 over the next year. 17:4 includes a single work by each artist and launches Private View the gallery’s online viewing room, focusing on expanding the gallery’s brick and mortar program to include online highlights of single artworks presented in the gallery as well as film and video.

In between sculpture and painting, the assemblage, as format or medium, exists in an unrooted gap between painting, sculpture and photography, floating and undefined. That gap, or perhaps joining, between mediums that the assemblage occupies exists as a way in which artists can articulate ideas, histories or discourses that exist outside of binary forms or alternatively occupy multiple positions at once. The works in 17:4 could maybe be only be linked together by this feeling of unsettlement, of ground moving beneath your feet: images of Kurt Russell bleed into conversations surrounding hyper-masculinity as cultural hallmark; amassed refuse becomes an ode to one's community; and decolonial artistic acts rupture damaging colonial perceptions of land use.

Entitled Kletic Kink Notes (2020), this sculpture by Tiziana La Melia reads more like a devotional object or lover’s locket than an assemblage of dried weed and Monster Energy labels. Loaded with imagery containing visual indexes of both the artist and her community, both easily discernible and hidden, Kletic Kink Notes functions as an ode to the social. Laden with personal imagery, the locket contains pieces and remnants from crushed benadryl, the stuffing from a mattress in Paris, a variety of dried flora and the weed varietal “11 Roses.” The title, which refers to kletic hymns, a form of devotional poetry pulled from Greek tragedy, underscores the sacred aspects of the work.

Akin to Kletic Kink Notes, Ravi Jackson’s multimedia canvases can be read as the materialization, or aestheticization of the social. Drawing from a wide berth of references and histories, Jackson’s work intentionally avoids easy reading, rarely bound by a single discourse or subject. Jackson's contribution to 17:4, Untitled (2019), mobilizes Kurt Russell as the center image of a hinged assemblage, reminiscent of a portable Christian shrine. Instead of a Christ figure, the savior of mortal souls has been supplanted by Russel’s portrayal of Wyatt Earp in the film Tombstone (1993).  The work functions as an interrogation of American hypermasculinity. Earp, a controversial yet iconic figure in American folklore is known for his following as a politician, entrepreneur and perhaps most importantly, a law enforcement agent known for his use of deadly force. Humour breaks up the composition, with a lathed wooden object, painted purple and suspended beneath Earp/Russell, unsettling the machismo seriousness with a phallic symbol reminiscent of Surrealist modalities.

Employing the framework of the diptych, Tania Willard’s Investment Portfolio (2020) addresses the muddied relationship between economics, Indigenous sovereignty and representation. Her work juxtaposes both images and  materials from the ancestral territories of Willard’s Secwépemc Nation. These assemblages are often interjected with plain text, porting phrases about economics such as “investment portfolio” or “domestic markets." Willard disturbs colonial conceptions of land use which largely claim it as the domain for resource extraction. Willard’s art practice figures the land directly into her art making; this work, for example, began by Willard projecting plain text onto a snowbank on her land as a decolonial artistic act. Her work aestheticizes the indivisible relationship between the land and thus its importance in the economic life of the violent colonial state. By occupying multiple spaces at once in her practice - both engaging in “traditional” modes of cultivation and contemporary art making - Willard opens up potentials for decolonial methodologies.

Jackson's (b. 1985) work uses imagery and text from popular culture as a way to negotiate ideas about race, art and sexuality. Jackson lives and works in Los Angeles. In 2016 he completed his MFA at the University of California, Los Angeles and he also holds a BFA from Hunter College in New York. Current and recent exhibitions include Reassembly, Galerie Nordenhake, Stockholm, Sweden; Boîte en Valise, Office Baroque, Antwerp, Belgium (both 2021); Positioner, Matthew Marks, Los Angeles, USA and Ice on Soul, Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles USA (both 2018).

La Melia (b. 1982) was born in Palermo, Italy and now lives as a guest on the stolen unceded territories of the Musqueam, Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw, Stó:l?, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Her paintings, textiles, installations, collaborations and writing are concerned with overlapping registers of perception, feeling, memory and narrative. Future and past exhibitions have been held at Mécènes du sud, Montpellier, France (2021); the Art Gallery of Grand Prairie; Lucas Hirsch, Düsseldorf, Germany; Griffin Art Projects, North Vancouver (all 2019); Damien & the Love Guru, Brussels, Belgium; Galerie Anne Baurrault, Paris (both 2019/17); Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre (2017); Oakville Galleries; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Vancouver Art Gallery (all 2016); Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles (2015) and Mercer Union, Toronto (2014). She holds a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design and an MFA from the University of Guelph. 

Willard, (b. 1977) Secwépemc Nation, works within the shifting ideas of contemporary and traditional as it relates to cultural arts and production. Often working with bodies of knowledge and skills that are conceptually linked to her interest in intersections between Aboriginal and other cultures. Willard has worked as a curator in residence with grunt gallery and Kamloops Art Gallery. Willard's curatorial work includes Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture, a national touring exhibition first presented at Vancouver Art Gallery in 2011. As assistant professor in Creatives Studies at UBCO (Kelowna, BC) her research focuses on Secwépemc aesthetics/language/land and interrelated Indigenous art practices. Willard's projects include BUSH gallery, a conceptual space for land based art and action led by Indigenous artists.

17:4, installation view Unit 17

17:4, installation view Unit 17

17:4, installation view Unit 17

17:4, installation view Unit 17

Tiziana La Melia, Kletic Kink Notes, 2020, UV protected glass, mirror,  hand cut collage, hand marbled paper, pressed flowers (borage, rose, black eyed susans, benadryl, wool, string, hand written note, graphite, candy foil, burnt paper, pressed 11 roses cannabis, monster energy drink can, copper foil, glass tin solder, walnut, 59 x 114cm

Tiziana La Melia, Kletic Kink Notes, 2020 (detail)

Tiziana La Melia, Kletic Kink Notes, 2020 (detail)

Tiziana La Melia, Kletic Kink Notes, 2020 (detail)

Tiziana La Melia, Kletic Kink Notes, 2020 (detail)

Tiziana La Melia, Kletic Kink Notes, 2020 (detail)

Tania Willard, Investment portfolio, 2020, archival print, plexiglass, dyed white tailed deer tail, ribbon & chain, 71.12 x 78.74cm

Tania Willard, Investment portfolio, 2020, archival print, plexiglass, dyed white tailed deer tail, ribbon & chain, 71.12 x 78.74cm

Tania Willard, Investment portfolio, 2020 (detail)

Tania Willard, Investment portfolio, 2020 (detail)

Tania Willard, Investment portfolio, 2020 (detail)

Tania Willard, Investment portfolio, 2020 (detail)

Ravi Jackson, Untitled, 2019, acrylic, photograph, hardware & wood, 60.9 x 45.7cm 

Ravi Jackson, Untitled, 2019, acrylic, photograph, hardware & wood, 60.9 x 45.7cm 

Ravi Jackson, Untitled, 2019, acrylic, photograph, hardware & wood, 60.9 x 45.7cm 

Ravi Jackson, Untitled, 2019 (detail) 

Ravi Jackson, Untitled, 2019 (detail) 

Ravi Jackson, Untitled, 2019 (detail) 

© 2021 U N I T 17.