George Gilmour Members’ Gallery
Sonya Filman: The Watchful Eye and the Tentative Hand – Don Phillips Scholarship Exhibition
Each year, Open Studio awards scholarship/fellowship residencies to artists of merit, as chosen through an annual juried selection process. The Don Phillips Scholarship is awarded to a graduating student who has just completed an undergraduate art program with a printmaking major at an accredited Canadian institution and who will not be returning to full-time studies. In addition to rent-free access to Open Studio facilities for a period of one year, materials assistance, professional development assistance, and tuition-free access to Open Studio workshops, recipients present a solo exhibition of the work they have made during their tenure at Open Studio during our annual Scholarship/Fellowship Exhibitions. An artist’s talk accompanies the exhibition.
Sonya Filman is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto and Sheridan College, where she received an Honours Bachelor of Arts and an Advanced Diploma in Art and Art History. Her visual art practice incorporates printmaking, photography, drawing and sculpture. Through her work, Filman interprets authoritative and strategic modes of representation, such as medical documents, family albums, mental hygiene films, and written testimonials. By combining appropriated images and texts with her own photographs and drawings, Filman is able to highlight and explore the ideological influences that encourage the production of these documents. Filman currently lives and works in Toronto.
The Watchful Eye and the Tentative Hand explores problems of perception. In this exhibition, Filman examines conflicting impressions of fiction and reality that occur in the documentation of 20th-century séances, wherein seemingly empirical records are disrupted by uncanny manifestations of “spiritual energy.” In viewing these documents, Filman investigates the persuasive potential of corporeal, tactile, and ephemeral products alongside suggestions of impartiality, control, and objectivity. The works presented here build upon Filman’s interest in notions of perception and deception as they relate to authoritative modes of representation, such as scientific documents, personal anecdotes, and photographic records. By combining appropriated images and texts with interpretive drawings, Filman evaluates the power dynamics present between the producer, consumer, and subject of the document. She emphasizes the sensual and emotive potential of the image and the text, underlining the ability of uncanny recognition to disrupt the viewer’s attempts at logical reasoning. The work illustrates a rumination on the seductive and suggestive discordance between both the rational and the emotionally disquieting aspects of the séance performance. Placing an especial focus on restricted access and ephemerality, Filman presents works that simultaneously appeal to the pleasure and the suspicion of the viewer.
The accompanying brochure is available by clicking below.