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WHO WILL COME KNOCKING?



Atia Pokorny, "Silent House", 2021


Atia Pokorny + Janne Reuss

CONTACT Festival of photography - 2022

REMOTE Gallery, Toronto

May 1 – May 15, 2022.

568 Richmond Street West (between Portland and Bathurst)

11 am – 6 pm, daily.

The title of this exhibition comes from the first line in Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space, a book that inspired two artists to explore personal experiences of belonging. Atia Pokorny and Janne Reuss share a similar trajectory. Both are immigrants to this country and both are also daughters of immigrants to their native countries. They met as members of Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, and have exhibited together in the past, sharing a love of photography, poetry and philosophy.


In WHO WILL COME KNOCKING?, Atia Pokorny revisits the loss of the ancestral house, destroyed during the Greek Civil War. In the destructive fire, all the family possessions, including family photographs, vanished. Her photographs of staged images placed inside an old cabinet, and her video create an intimate narrative which suggests the tension between memory and fiction. Some 30 years after the Greek Civil War ended, when she visited the village together with her father for the first time, she took one photograph of the house's abandoned ruins. Now, many years later, inspired by readings of Gaston Bachelard's book, she has animated this house in her imagination as it was before its destruction: a place of protection, a shelter for daydreams.


“I have placed my imaginary house inside an old cabinet. Like in Bachelard’s writings, the enclosed space provides an intimate room for family history and memories. Of course, in my fictive house, the memories are a fiction, a personal mythology of the past. I use the motif of blue - blue as the colour of memory and forgetting. Blue is the face of my Yaya, my paternal grandmother, whose image I never knew. Blue are the family members I had never chance to meet; blue is the house that fell silent.“

Atia Pokorny, "Yaya," 2022

 

Janne Reuss , "Portal," 2021


Janne Reuss’s inner landscapes are like photographic x-rays that explore a complex map of human existence. Through the metaphor of the tree she inquires how experiences of home and place are stored and imprinted inside of us. She began exploring this concept of home and the idea of the family tree as a portal to a personal cosmos in her art: How do we access our inner memories? How do we try to hold on to, erase or reinvent them? Which events are so profound that they define us for the rest of our lives?


“The process of remembering is like traversing through a dense forest in search of insight. Through the overlapping, layering and overpainting of my fragmented images, I’m trying to recreate this intricate experience”.

The resulting imaginary landscapes express Reuss’s recurring childhood dream of escaping into a secret garden to find solace. They are intimate and personal meditations of life; a silent retreat outside becomes inside and inside becomes outside.


Janne Reuss , "Tree within," 2022