November 5 – 27, 2016
Reception: November 5, 3 – 6 PM
An object uncopied is under perpetual siege…
Jenn Law’s multi-disciplinary practice explores the idea of the variable copy in relation to the historical archive/library and print-based strategies of preservation. In Extant, Law considers the legacies of three celebrated authors–Virgil, Emily Dickinson, and Franz Kafka–who requested in their wills that their unfinished works and/or their correspondence be burned upon their deaths. In each case, their work was spared and has gone on to inspire countless writers and readers. Here, Law has carefully hand-crafted imagined artifacts of these authors, seemingly rescued from the flames. Partially destroyed, the works revel in their salvation while prompting the viewer to contemplate the impact of their near-absence on the history of Western literature and culture. Each lithographed artifact blurs the boundary between the real and the imagined, the faithful forgery and the illusive original. Tapping into our angst over things left undone, Law deliberates on the will of the artist, literally and figuratively, pondering the delicate tipping point between annihilation and preservation, obscurity and immortality.
Accompanying these artifacts are a series of lithographed postcards of libraries—some are creatively altered replicas of vintage postcards, while others are invented by the artist from archival sources. Collectively alluding to the lost library of Alexandria, this ongoing series is modelled on early twentieth century ‘disaster’ postcards—with a contemporary twist. In a time when the targeted destruction of artworks, archaeological treasures, and historical monuments has become a weapon in the war against humanity, the image of material culture under siege has become more urgent and potent than ever. Ultimately, the extant artifact invites us to reflect on that which has been preserved for posterity while (impossibly) imagining what is irrevocably lost over the course of time.
Jenn Law is an artist, writer, and researcher living in Toronto. Law holds a PhD in Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, England, a BA in Anthropology from McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, and a BFA from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. She has exhibited her art internationally and has worked as a lecturer, curator, and editor in Canada, the UK, and South Africa, publishing on South African, Caribbean, and Canadian contemporary art and print culture. Law has been the recipient of several awards and grants for her research including from SSHRC, the British Council, and the British Academy. She is the co-editor, with Tara Cooper, of Printopolis, published by Open Studio, Toronto in 2016.