January 19 – April 30, 2023
Curated by Sally Frater
Insoon Ha’s compelling installations explore themes of power, colonialism, hybridity, and the abject. Working across several media, her work takes shape in visceral forms, producing scenes that probe and disturb. Her latest offering Dirge is no less impactful. The piece took root in periods of isolation during COVID pandemic lockdowns, during which Ha experienced the deaths of those close to her, including her father and friend artist Sylvie Bélanger, while also being deeply impacted by the discovery of mass graves at former residential schools in Canada. In response, the artist has created a sculptural installation that acknowledges the enormity of feelings of loss while offering a space for grief and mourning.
The installation consists of 100 large-scale heads fashioned from brown and gray recycled paper. Hung from the gallery ceiling in rows so that viewers can theoretically pass through them they appear to form a homogenous grid, yet closer inspection reveals that each head in the formation is distinct, bearing its own individual markings. Referencing the way that media reportage of mass death can render separate individuals as faceless hordes, Ha reminds us that each life lost is worthy of singular remembrance and honour.
About the artist
Insoon Ha was born in Seoul, South Korea, and currently lives in Toronto, Canada. She is a multidisciplinary artist who works in sculpture, installation, performance, photography, and video. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Latitude 53, McMaster Museum of Art, the Albright-Knox Art Museum, Cepa Gallery, and the Whanki Museum, in Seoul, Korea. She has been in residencies including the Studio at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, USA, New York Art Residency and Studios, USA and Gibraltar Point Artist Residency, Canada. She holds both a BFA and MFA from the University of Seoul in Sculpture, and a second MFA from the State University of New York at Buffalo in Fine Arts. She has received numerous grants from Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council in support of her practice.
Organized by the Art Gallery of Guelph with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.
Image detail: Insoon Ha, Dirge, 2022, mixed media installation, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist.