Megan Dickie: Flips Folly

In the Main Space May 24–July 13, 2013

Opening Reception: Friday May 24 at 7:00 pm

Artist Talk: Saturday May 25 at 1:30 pm

Victoria-based artist Megan Dickie’s installation makes the lofty world of intellectual breakthrough into a slapstick comedy. A series of sculptures, representative of the complex worlds of architecture and mathematics, are presented as props that invite comic interaction from the viewer through touch and movement. While the creative process behind the sculptures embodies thought and intellectualism, viewers are free to touch and interact with them, breaking down the divide between physical and mental states, ignoring reason in favour of amusement.

Presented with the support of Emery Jamieson, LLP.

Tussle with The TanglerTussle with “The Tangler”

Haptic truths: The folly of artist Megan Dickie

By Christine Walde

In our virtual age, we live in constant negotiation between the three-dimensional nature of our lived experience and the two-dimensional realm of the representational worlds we wish to inhabit. Art, too, is a negotiation between these forces of dimensionality, and sculpture, as a medium, specifically challenges our perspectives about the nature and politics of objects, their multiplicity of surfaces and how our bodies co-exist in time and space with them. With this exhibition, Victoria artist Megan Dickie presents a dynamic composite of works that not only speak to the complexities of these dynamic interrelationships, but to their corresponding tautologies of meaning, reason and order, which she counters with humour, bravery and boldness.

Whether it is by wrestling with them, fighting with them, or playing with them, Dickie physically interacts with her works in a way that is both simultaneously interrogative and possessive. In works like “The Tangler” and “The Gleamer”, these interactions are not just animations, but rather, restless interventions that pervade with haptic truths, invoking questions not just about the surface and materiality of things, but about the struggle of art and art making and its associated traditions. In “Submission”, Dickie’s intervention is an act of transgression and has the power to provoke controversy, contention and disapproval. Never static, Dickie’s sculptures bristle with the resonance of past participation, and with our imagining of them as the site of future possible interceptions.

Tracks“The Gleamer”

Creating her work from a position that recognizes her own faults and vulnerabilities while poking fun at the powers-that-be, Dickie employs humour, impulsivity and risk in positing herself against reason. By interposing her body into the arena of the work, before an audience that favours novelty, gadgetry, and entertainment, Dickie’s sculptures and her performative responses trigger a complex association of feelings about art and our relationship to it as an aesthetic and cultural signifier. As her titles suggest, something funny is going on, though Dickie transcends this metaphor of folly through her actions, making her work all the more powerful and compelling.

By appealing to our tactile sensibilities, Dickie’s work engages us, not just as passive spectators, but as witnesses and participants to the deconstruction of the architectures of power that sculpture connotes. In this way, too, perhaps alluding to Dickie’s role as an instructor in the Department of Visual Art at the University of Victoria, her work is instructive, and invaluably teaches the viewer to re-read not just the object, but to physically experience its materiality and meaning. Dickie’s generosity as an artist to her audience gives them the opportunity to learn through their own discovery, while engaging in a very serious discussion about art and the object, power, and reason.

Ultimately, Dickie’s restless persistence to fight, to play, to punch, to invite us to watch or engage in these sculptures is emblematic, not just of our own negotiations beyond the ephemerality of our daily lives, but as we seek meaning within the multiple dimensions of time and space to bring ourselves closer to being in the world.

Christine Walde is a librarian who has published her poetry, fiction and non-fiction in a variety of print and online publications, including Border Crossings, Carousel, The Fiddlehead, Hunter and Cook, The Rusty Toque and Vallum. Born and raised in London, Ontario, she now lives in Victoria, BC.


Artist's Statement

My research stems from my fascination with those moments in human behavior when intelligence and reason are pushed to the wayside in favour of amusement. I explore this idea by taking structures and subverting their stability through the use of humour and playfulness. Recent projects have been inspired by structures found in math, architecture, prominent institutions and kinetic toys. I borrow design elements from these constructions and produce absurd, performative sculptures for comic relief. The forms incorporate serial patterns and the same potential for endless action that you would find in a slapstick movie. They are entire body experiences that can be punched, pushed and grappled with. My intention is to breakdown the hierarchy that exists between physical and mental states by engaging on a tactile level before the censorship of reason kicks in.

The intense physicality of my sculptures is played with in my video projects. These videos are comedic set-ups for physical failure. Choreographed actions of dancing, wrestling and falling expose the vulnerability of the human form in relation to my sculptures. Through this work I express that physical actions with the body are never perfect, or completely predictable. This reveals what we find amusing in ourselves – we are constantly undercut by physicality, our own physical bodies which let us down and this is what makes us funny. I am interested in investigating failure as the moment that triggers us to let go of reason so we can indulge in laughter. Humour can be more than mere silliness; it also has the opportunity to unveil new perspectives.


Megan Dickie has exhibited across Canada and in the United States, with recent exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Stride Gallery, Calgary and Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History. She holds a BFA from the University of Calgary and an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan. Dickie has been awarded grants from both the British Columbia Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. She teaches sculpture and printmaking at the University of Victoria.

Megan Dickie is currently working on a large scale sculpture and video project which investigates the activity of pitting the human form against structures for the sake of competition.

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