Colin Miner The clearest image

    Colin Miner, Untitled (The clearest image), 2023 (production still). Courtesy of the artist
Colin Miner, Untitled (The clearest image), 2023 (production still). Courtesy of the artist

In this exhibition, Toronto-based artist Colin Miner explores disturbance regimes and possible methodologies for disrupting systems of control. Taking cues from feral boar—creatures who thrive in environments of conflict—the works in The clearest image follow thematics of rooting and wallowing as the artist attempts to address the inherent difficulty of answering the question: What is photography?

Colin Miner, Untitled (The clearest image), 2023 (production still). Courtesy of the artist

More than most, images that act as witness to atrocities need to be read as constructions and distortions simultaneously, as they are presented as events seemingly produced for our benefit and on our behalf. Such constructions and distortions work on us as part of a set of cultural values that we may, or may not, be aware of at the time and place of the encounter with the photograph.[1]

Discovered in an out-of-date photography manual in the Gallery 44 library, and subsequently featured in the exhibition, is a troubling image. Initially used as a piece of propaganda, the image was repurposed as a teaching tool, unsettlingly divorced from its original context. This image—one of several reformatted by the artist and included in Miner’s ongoing series Available Light (2013–ongoing)—demonstrates how the contents of a photograph might be aestheticized, and how contextual responsibility can be overlooked through its captioning. The exhibition as a whole explores how meaning is created through the contextualization of images, investigating how their contents and associated impacts can be visible and absent at the same time.

Study for “The clearest image”, Colin Miner, 2022. Courtesy of the artist

The boar appears repeatedly throughout visual history. Found on the walls of a cave in Indonesia, it is the subject of the earliest image ever made, 45,000 years ago. Bronze statuary from the Renaissance  often honour the boar for its strength, and contemporary memes present the creatures as slothful and mischievous disruptors of human life. The boar roots through the earth for sustenance and to regulate its body temperature, reforming its environment to suit its own needs. The boar’s practice of rooting and wallowing mirrors Miner’s interest in shifting and disturbing patterns and systems, as the artist seeks a visual language through which to articulate the responsibility of engaging with images.

Through the arrangements of work in the exhibition, Miner explores the impact of conceptual and physical displacement, such as patterns of migration—both willing and unwilling. The inclusion of such a troubling image in a technical manual illustrates its abstraction within the larger context of photography—a medium characterized by its fraught relationship with historical narrativization.

In addition to the troubling images, the exhibition includes sculpture, video, architectural intervention, and textile work to create a space of refuge in the context of migration. The project is designed to shift states over the course of the exhibition, making discourses of displacement visible. Moving through pathways created in the gallery space, viewers will be invited to rest and wallow at certain moments, responding to disturbance through slowness and reorientation. Through this navigation of an altered environment, visitors experience the process of becoming more contemplative as they shift into unsettled states.

Colin Miner, Untitled (The clearest image), 2023 (production still). Courtesy of the artist

[1] James Procter, Stuart Hall, 2004. London and New York: Routledge.

Presented by Gallery 44 in partnership with CONTACT

Colin Miner – The fugitive and cyclical are ongoing departures for Colin Miner, whose practice takes form through assemblage, composition, and duration. Recent solo exhibitions include La Datcha (Berlin) and 8eleven (Toronto). His work has been part of group exhibitions at The Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), 2nd Kamias Triennial (Quezon City), and the Beijing Art Centre of Art (Beijing). Ongoing projects include Moire, a digital publication, and the experimental exhibition space, Moire’s catwalk.