Diaz Contemporary commemorates its first anniversary with the gallery’s first solo show of work by influential and esteemed artist, Mowry Baden, the recipient of a 2006 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.
During his nearly 40 years as a sculptor, Mowry Baden has developed various methods of decentring vision and interfacing with habitual human gestures. He has built harnesses, furniture, rooms, pathways, and catwalks, all with the goal of impinging on the viewer’s movements and awakening a previously unconscious physical self-awareness.
Through his work, Baden seeks to provoke a perceptual crisis that assaults the viewer’s confidence in the information relayed by the senses. Baden is interested in the experience of his work more than in the work as object, wanting the viewer to engage with his sculpture in a visceral, internal, and sensorially cross-circuited manner.
This exhibition revolves around a major recent work, Tender Trepanation (2005). Emphatically phenomenological, this piece differs from many of Baden’s previous sculptures in its emphasis on the sense of touch. The viewer wears special headgear while sitting in a chair that gyrates slowly through predetermined cycles; because the headgear is filled with water, the viewer feels the weight of it shift variously with the movement of the chair. The resulting sensation is that of being on a ship in rolling seas.
The second sculpture in the show, Prone Gyres (2000), decentres vision. In it, an articulated arm supports a low platform upon which the viewer can lie. Viewers can then propel themselves through a wide range of intersecting gyres. The smooth action of the arm creates a sensation comparable to gliding through calm air currents. In Now Iguana (2002), the viewer sits on a seat with feet, pelvis, chest, and chin resting on adjustable supports.