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Shake A Leg: Performative Sites of Colette Urban

March 6, 1999 - June 27, 1999

AWE Gallery

Upon entering the gallery, you are confronted by a pair of giant legs in brightly-striped trousers. This humorous figure is typical of Colette Urban’s sense of the absurd and grotesque.

Shake A Leg presents the range of this southwestern Ontario artist’s activities. An important aspect of Urban’s work over the past twenty years has been performance-based. One writer claims that her first extended performance was operating a junk store in Toronto in the mid-1970s. Urban has clearly sustained an affection for common materials, discarded objects, and the jerry-rigged. The exhibition will include drawings, props, and photographs related to the performances as well as her sculptural work. For this occasion, the artist has produced an interactive work that involves using listening instruments in Devonshire Mall. In this sense, the gallery visitor becomes a performer as well.

The dadaist sensibility of Urban’s work is applied to a serious investigation of social interaction, especially as experienced by women. Her characters often wear bizarre head-gear and mechanical contraptions that belie conventional notions of female identity. She sets up conditions that unsettle relationships between humour and horror. Her works often have an audio component that reflects that aural cacophony experienced in urban environments and their restrictive architectural spaces.

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