Prelude and Pneuma | Mary Kavanagh and Ruth Chambers
Mendel Art Gallery, Sasktoon, SK
28 August - 1 November, 1998
SAW Gallery, Ottawa, ON
10 March - 21 April, 1999

[installation (chemistry glass, steel rods, video, audio)]

Prelude is a trilogy comprised of sculptural, video and audio components. The exhibition functions as a personal inventory which examines memory and the inscription of social and scientific codes on the body. The central work consists of a collection of 250 glass laboratory vessels inherited from Kavanagh's grandparents—chemists interested in how science can illuminate existence both empirically and spiritually. The organic chemistry laboratory in the basement of their large Toronto home became Kavanagh's childhood playground, a fertile space of imagination, mystery and danger.

Separation: until each space is walked through is a cinematic video projection of a slow walk through the house. Distillation: in her element consists of sharpened metal rods and glass laboratory vessels. This matrix makes reference to the past (alchemy, and the sublimated reference to medieval religious painting) as well as to procedures of modern science. Balance: cloak room song consists of a painted wooden mantelpiece on which sits an archaic set of scales. Barely audible sounds of a piano recall the intangible, invisible nature of both music and memory.