Referencing Material is a new body of photo-based work by Dennis Day that continues a 30-year exploration into reconceptualizing and rearranging the “familiar.” Like many of his earlier photo and video works, in which figure-ground constructions are often colourfully and artificially staged, Day’s new photographs use naturalism largely as a point of departure.
This exhibition playfully reworks the still life genre, reimagining everyday rituals and exploring the dichotomies of materiality/immateriality and representation/impersonation. Staged on a diorama lighttable, the resulting photographs at first present a kind of trompe l’oeil, but ultimately point to larger issues in image-making. By shifting the substance of known objects, Day’s works point to artifice, fragile rituals, and the temporality of objects and representations. While words are not employed directly, Day is going after “language,” often distorting figures or showing rough seams and edges, questioning not only the integrity of these forms, but also the words that are meant to contain them.
Originally from Newfoundland, Day is a Toronto-based artist and a graduate of the Ontario College of Art.