When I close my Eyes Text

when i close my eyes

The Closet Gallery is a particular and inherently peculiar venue for exhibitions of contemporary art. It is a storage closet; just over 3 feet deep, just under 3 feet wide and just over 7 feet high. It has the same standard wooden door used by many other rooms and offices in the Khyber Building. It has been used as a regular "alternative" exhibition venue since 1999.

It is, in a sense, the perfect venue for emerging contemporary artists investigating the field of installation art, partially because it is such a specific venue. The inherent qualities of its size, of having to open the door to peek inside (or peek through the door via a peephole, a technique employed often by artists exhibiting in the Closet), and the fact that it is formally a utility closet all tend to influence the type as well as the reading of the work that gets placed inside it.

Genevieve Dionne and Ben Skinner have collaborated on the installation when I close my eyes. Skinner, currently a Masters student at the Art Institute of Chicago, provided a neon sign which reads "heaven." Dionne, a recent graduate of NSCAD, made the highly decorative silk-screened wallpaper.

The combination of light and pattern is a visual assault on the senses. Dionne's art-deco, William Morris-esque floral pattern is a pale bluish-gray on fluorescent hot-pink paper, which in and of itself is literally hard to look at. The patterned wallpaper flanks the two sides of the Closet, while upon opening the door the viewer is faced with Skinner's neon "heaven" on the back wall. The icy blue light of the neon sign further illuminates the dynamic interplay between the floral pattern and the hot pink. The sensation is nothing short of "illuminating."

The juxtaposition of decoration reminiscent of a previous era of Art Nouveau with garish colouring and signage of contemporary consumer culture provide the mental stimulation to accompany the visual. Though it has a jarring visual effect, the installation, for me, evokes a soothing auditory effect.

Now every time I open the Closet door I start humming ...heaven, i'm in heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak...

Chris Lloyd