23 Sandy Gallery is pleased to present Palimpsest, photographs by Vancouver, BC artist Nicole Dextras. Palimpsest is a new series of photographs documenting outdoor sculptural ice installations the artist created during three cold Canadian winters.
Palimpsest refers to the ancient practice of erasing and writing over parchment, so that the previous text appears as a ghost on the page. The word also alludes to the act of deciphering traces of time and is therefore an apt analogy for the process of photographing the ephemeral nature of ice. These photographs were taken during the creation of several ice installations Nicole created over a period of three years. The ice was made by pouring water into moulds and letting it freeze outdoors. The ice was cast to create specific shapes such as 3D letters and words or formed into blocks with garments embedded inside the ice. Nicole is well known for her environmental sculptures as well as her distinctive photographs.
Palimpsest is a new series of photographs documenting outdoor installations created during the cold months of the Canadian winter. The images are arranged as diptychs, presenting macro and micro views of ice, suggesting the transformative element of this fugitive medium.
Palimpsest refers to the ancient practice of erasing and writing over parchment, so that the previous text appears as a ghost on the page. The word also alludes to the act of deciphering traces of time and is therefore an apt analogy for the process of photographing the ephemeral nature of ice.
These photographs were taken during the creation of several ice installations over a period of three years. The ice is made by pouring water into moulds and letting it freeze outdoors. In this manner, the ice can be cast to create specific shapes such as 3D words or it can be formed into a block with garments embedded in it. I work with both text and the body as symbols of the unexposed self, encased in layers of meaning, slowly melting in the sun.
My art practice combines both sculpture and photography. With each medium the intent is to infer a physical and psychological questioning of one’s perspective and surroundings. This analysis of the gaze is meant to challenge the commodification and the romanticization of nature, and to redress the division between nature and the self.
The temporary quality of the work allows for a complex reading of the land, one that is not divorced from our own fragile nature. This personal experience of the environment can act as a counterbalance to the traditional colonial attitudes of domineering and conquering the land. I therefore choose to create art within an ephemeral vernacular as an acknowledgement of flux and change in our daily lives. These photographs are the palimpsests of the marks I made upon the land during the winter from 2005 to 2008.
Nicole Dextras is a graduate of the Emily Carr Institute of Art in Vancouver, BC Canada, where she has been a sessional teacher at ECI for the past 8 years.
She has created ephemeral art installations in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Her sculpture: “Shelter from the Storm” will be on view at the Sculpted Green Exhibit in Bellevue WA during the summer of 2008. She has recently completed an art residency at I-park in Connecticut, which is to be followed by summer long residency at the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver. Her work has been featured in Canadian and American publications and she has been the recipient of national and provincial grants.
Upcoming projects include ice installations at the Klondike Institute of Art in the Yukon and with Galerie FMR in Montreal, Quebec. Dextras’ environmental art focuses on the ephemeral aspects of nature and her practice follows the seasons, with ice in the winter and organic materials in the summer.