Follow a mirrored hallway, step out of the elevator at level 3 and come face-to-face with a vast blackboard, stretching floor to ceiling. Titled Choreographing Collage, Sally Smart’s latest installation work at Breenspace is immersive to say the least.
This is Smart’s second solo exhibition with Breenspace and the first at the gallery’s new Alberta Street residence. Incorporating collage, screen-printing, drawing, photographs and video, the piece is a literal mind map of chalked ideas and thoughts, detailing Smart’s process and citing her own artistic references. Smart’s work has long been concerned with gender and identity politics, feminist discourse and psychoanalytic theories, and many of these contemplations are laid out or noted down on the looming blackboard. Read left to right as Smart’s signature collage-cut figures dance across the board, as puppets on a chalk-drawn string.
These collage puppet dancers are a part of a new series titled the Pedagogical Puppet Projects, which Smart developed during a recent artist residency at the University of Connecticut. Smart says she wanted to do her cut-out work “in a way that moves”, and so has created puppets and dolls brought to life via movement and choreography. Ideas of movement, dance and feminine identity are then carried across and fully animated in a new meditative video piece, placed amidst all the chalk. The inclusion of animation, film and puppetry in Choreographing Collage adds to the performative and theatrical nature of the piece, with the viewer invited to dart and dance across the wall, tracing the artist’s process.