Right now, the walls of Edmonton’s dc3 Art Projects have a rather apocalyptic feel.Pools of black liquid flood out homes. Black flames shoot into a black sky, leaving destruction in their wake.
The stark, dark work comes from Sean Caulfield, the centennial professor in the University of Alberta’s art and design department. His show, Firedamp, debuted late last week and runs until June 11.
A mix of prints and carved work, Caulfield explores destruction. One large print is taken from The Flood, his large exhibit that’s currently featured at the Art Gallery of Alberta.Some of Caulfield’s elements were shown in Montreal before the opening of the Edmonton show, and they got a great reception, said dc3 owner David Candler.
“I was interested in making work about a catastrophic event,” said Caulfield. “On some level I was motivated by what happened at Fukushima.”
Caulfield’s wife is Japanese. They went to Japan soon after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Caulfield said it was a trip filled with tension. And from that, he wondered if he could transfer the experience to his art. Could his work address how disasters changeus?
“To my mind, it’s vastly interesting subject matter because those moments of dramatic change, something like the terrible event at Fukushima or any kind of catastrophe, it’s a moment when our awareness of our fragility is raised, our awareness of our permanence, thoughts about change in general are really brought to the forefront. So,for me, making work that explores that is interesting, because how we respond to those traumatic events is important.”
Of course, the show opened with unintended irony. With the Wood Buffalo wildfires still raging only a few hours to the north, the images of black sludge and dark flames hit very close to home. But, dwelling on what’s an unfortunate coincidence would be unfair to Caulfield and the art itself. It’s well worth a look.