Mark Titchner “DIVERSITY OUR STRENGTH” (Brief review)

January 10, 2013 | Comments Off on Mark Titchner “DIVERSITY OUR STRENGTH” (Brief review)

Creating a site-specific work, as well as a work that involves words, is a practice foreign to me due to my inability to decipher how one might use words effectively within a work of art. Also, after reading ‘Seven Days in the Art World’ by Sarah Thornton I became more interested in how residencies effect an artist’s work, because it notes that residencies “not only help [artists] think beyond their native cultural horizons, but they can gain a more intimate understanding of the foreign reception of their work”. Mark Titchner’s residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario enabled me to explore these foreign aspects, while also satisfying my curiosity of how artists react to an unfamiliar studio and lifestyle in one exhibition.

Upon entering the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Community gallery one is introduced to Mark Titchner’s wall drawings. Within this exhibition, Titchner displays the statement “DIVERSITY OUR STRENGTH” four different times with the colours red, blue, green and white throughout each piece. Each statement stands out as an individual, despite its obvious connection to the others, due to his use of colour, line, rendering of words and the dividers between each statement. On one wall (see Figure 1), “DIVERSITY OUR STRENGTH” appears three times adjacent to one another, while on the wall across it appears a more abstract rendering of the statement once. On this wall (see Figure 4), ‘DIVERSITY’ appears above and below ‘STRENGTH’ while ‘OUR’ is embedded throughout all three words. The colours are fragmented into shapes, yet unmixed, which allows each word to stand out while also intermingling with the others.

Prior to reading the artist statement, the exhibition experience evoked a critical conversation about Toronto as well as a semiotic reading of the words and colours chosen. Was Titchner trying to cram this message into our heads or speak about messages being over repetitive? Do these words speak to or for Toronto? Why were the statements predominantly white while talking about diversity? These questions kept manifesting in my mind while viewing each piece individually and the exhibition as a whole. Answers, on the other hand, did not surface because the notion of critique on society and/or diversity itself became apparent within the exhibition itself.

After experiencing the exhibition with little information on it or the artist, the artist statement cleared up a lot of the questions personally encountered. Titchner predominantly worked with certain themes throughout his time at Toronto relating to consumption, belief systems and marketing techniques. His work often approaches viewers with a proposition and an opening for communication with them and the work. This exhibition appeared to communicate and propose at the same time, depending on the viewer, because it could propose that one uses diversity as our strength while questioning whether or not it already is our strength. When one accepts the proposal of using diversity as strength, it allows communities to come together and thrive. These are all apparent within the exhibition, but would allow each viewer to have a more personal experience.

Overall, Mark Titchner’s exhibition in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Community Gallery is successful in communicating his desired experience and message.  Even though he exhibited in a foreign land, his work sent a strong message and was easily communicated to the new audience.