June 27 to August 5, 2010
Koffler Gallery Off-Site
Mon Ton Window Gallery, 402 College Street
Curator: Mona Filip

Through her mixed media installations, Toronto artist Panya Clark Espinal questions notions of authenticity, appropriation, reproduction, collection, and display. She investigates the nature of representation as practiced and engaged through the institutions of culture-making. A masterful creator of experiences, Clark Espinal’s evocative re-invigoration of already existent images brings fresh perspectives and renewed intimacy to the act of looking.

Before the closure of the old Koffler building, Clark Espinal removed a section of the wood-and-glass display case that had lined the lobby of the Gallery. With Vagabond Vitrine, she transforms this uprooted institutional vestige into a temporary sculpture. The installation converges with the fixed architecture of a former storefront on College Street, now an artist studio and window gallery.

Reflecting on the current nomadic circumstances of the Gallery, the displaced structure of Vagabond Vitrine splices with the storefront window and its re-imagined contents, in a nostalgic search to recover purpose. Inside, fragmented traces of a natural history diorama infuse the Vitrine with the uncanny qualities of a lost Cabinet of Curiosities. Emulating old-fashioned museum displays, the migrant structure alludes to the history of cultural representations of nature and to outdated modes of presentation that still capture public affection with an aura of fantasy, idealism and romance.

Visible at any time, Vagabond Vitrine insinuates itself in the city landscape and offers passers-by an extraordinary moment in the midst of daily rush or in the mystery of the night, bringing art to the everyday. While evoking the constant transformation of the urban setting, the installation reflects on the unsettled connection between culture and nature, and on the pervasive power of the museum to equally educate and manipulate, enchant and ensnare.