“Stone once liquid, once fire, ebbed and flowed
like raging water beneath the islands from which we build our lives.”
- Michael Belmore
Michael Belmore’s work questions what it means when human time encounters the time and motion of stone. Somewhere Between the Two States of Matter focuses on the moment when human activity transforms a supposedly inanimate object. In the act of choosing to pick up and throw a stone, it becomes a weapon. The choice becomes a standoff between two states of matter.
There is always a hunter. There are acts of protection and sacrifice. There looms a threat of violence, until there is running and then—sometimes—there is escape. Through practices that link the women in her family—needlework, sculpting, plant gathering, knot tying, doll making—Shandra MacNeill’s immersive installation begins with a story of her grandmother and great-aunt brought from Romania and left in a convent in rural Saskatchewan as young girls. The Assiniboine forest became MacNeill’s escape, where the wild deer eventually came out to meet her. She continues to visit and feed the deer. The deer are prey. She has been prey. They understand one another. These images—of the women, of the deer, of the fairytales of her grandmother’s homeland, of vulnerability and acts of survival—construct the scaffolding against which MacNeill makes sense of her own experience of violence, loss, grief, flight, and escape.