Douglas Watt, Bench & Net, 2019, cedar, soap, rubber bands, paper clips, eyelet screws, dimensions variable (detail)
29 November 2019 - 26 January 2020
opening reception: 28 November 6 - 8pm
Power and the world which, even while not being in power, maintains a practical relationship with power, have excluded free intellectuals (by their very nature) from the possibility of having proof and clues.
- Pier Paolo Pasolini, What Is This Coup? I Know, 1974
Unit 17 is thrilled to present Stunning Evidence, a new installation and series of sculptures by artist Douglas Watt. Stunning Evidence marks Watt's first solo exhibition with the gallery.
The title of the exhibition comes from thinking about paralysis by spectacle; a type of cultural diagnosis in which rapidly emergent truths can be beautiful, bewildering, misleading and immobilizing. In this exhibition Watt investigates what it means when something “happens,” what materials might verify it: how are we to prove that actions have taken place or how lives are being lived?
Central to the exhibition is a carpeted stage backdropped by a row of silk sculptures resembling lockers, each bedazzled with rows of aluminum confetti. A soap-soaked cedar bench scarred with first names sits in front, cloaked in a net of rubber bands and paper clips, completing the dysfunctional locker room-cum-theatre apparatus. A large black painting with a surface like tar is built up with popsicle stick pathways and frames the gallery’s small south east wall. This work is the latest and largest of a series of black monochromes that simultaneously lay bare and conceal the physical and psychic networks of queer localities. Segments of an industrial pipe covered in multicoloured glitter are held together by necklace chain and hang from the gallery ceiling - which has been painted a high-gloss white to reflect the exhibition like water above our heads.
Watt considers existing sites in Vancouver that have the potential to charge sexual awareness, mirroring architectural typologies found globally. From bath houses to pools, sexual health clinics to locker rooms, Watt fashions many of his sculptures like models or sets, using humble materials that join with fine precision to dwell on these social and cultural forms. Watt’s newest works address the fraught political aesthetics of national and sexual identity formation and slow unfolding events that evade identification.
Douglas Watt (b. 1990, St. Catharines) is an artist living and working in Vancouver on the unceded and traditional territories of the Musqueam, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh people. He received a Bachelor of Arts (Art History) from Carleton University, Ottawa and studied Criticism & Curatorial Practice at OCAD University, Toronto. Previously, he has curated exhibitions by Prynce Nesbitt at Niagara Artists Centre, St. Catharines; Michael Snow [Timed Images] at Greenbelt Gallery, Toronto and KAMLINKS at Skylight Gallery, Vancouver.