Review: Tall Tale

Guests Amongst Boyne's Work

Guests amongst Boyne’s work, Photo: Taline McPhedran 

The Ryerson Artspace is set up modestly; the back wall is taken up by two large photographs, one above water and one below, with the front wall showcasing a projector, a shelf with objects relating to boats and a television screen. Christopher Boyne has been trying to figure out how to light the shelf without the large shadow of the above vent while Lena Oehmsen is chatting with a friend who came to see the exhibit.

The light that’s giving Boyne trouble finally sets in place a mere two minutes before the exhibit officially opens and he eventually nods in agreement, “It’s better than nothing.”

Tall tale is a simple yet intriguing exhibit, showcasing both Oehmsen and Boyne with works created in the same muted tones and roughly cut imagery, yet entirely different in their production and understanding.

Oehmsen’s work SF>LA>NY consists of a collection of 72 images featuring various real status-updates to create a fictional road trip through the three states. The slideshow plays on an old-type projector allowing for the clicks as the images turn, the slightly wayward placement of cards and out-of-focus words. Interested in more than just photography, she spent time flipping through archives involving social networks and language, discovering how people communicate and how they deal with memories.

Watching Oehmsen's Work Photo: Taline McPhedran

Watching Oehmsen’s Work
Photo: Taline McPhedran

“I was also interested in travel, like how do we do that specifically with travel. And that’s how I came about creating this fictional portrait,” Oehmsen said.

As each cards turns, status-updates such as, “In-N-Out burgers animal style,” and “Everything beautiful but the weather,” lead the viewer through someone else’s road trip, sitting them in front of their computer and through their social media timelines as if someone was really making the trip.

The fuzzy and shaky filming of Boyne’s piece Boutilier Marine is showcased on a television screen to the right of Oehmsen’s slideshow and compliment the subdued colours with their view of multiple anchored boats. The slow-moving picture creates a hypnotic image, especially when it comes to fruition that the imagery is the underwater view of boats with the rock-anchors and the ropes visible.

It is almost like holding your breath for as long as possible, peering at every visible object underwater before breaking the surface to see the floating boats in a makeshift boatyard.

“I decided to build a boat that’s used in this project but it wasn’t obvious that I would make a film or take images,” Boyne explained, surrounded by others viewing his and Oehmsen’s pieces.

Curated by Sabrina Maltese, who had met the pair of artists while studying image arts photography at Ryerson University, the exhibition presents an interesting look at a European exploring America and a Canadian exploring the Maritimes.

The Tall Tale exhibit is running every Thursday to Sunday until March 1, 2015 at the Ryerson Artspace.