After great pain, a formal feeling comes

Ellen Bleiwas, Erin Vincent, Kriss Janik
Opening Reception: Tuesday May 3rd 6-9pm.
May 2 – 13th 2016
Gales Gallery, 105 Accolade West Building

Curated by Megan Toye

This is a Curatorial Intensive exhibition sponsored by the Art Gallery of York University in collaboration with York University’s Art History Department in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design.

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?
The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –
This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –
-Emily Dickinson

After great pain, a formal feeling comes asks: how do melancholic feelings take form? Is there away to get to melancholia’s affect—the sense experience of pain, loss and grief—by attending to the material specificity of aesthetic form? And in what ways can visual forms and temporal structures act as metaphors for melancholic subjectivity?

In his 1917 text Mourning and Melancholia, Sigmund Freud distinguished between a person who is mourning and a person who is melancholic: when mourning, the individual projects the loss outward and engages in a process of working-through or healing, while the melancholic subject holds onto this loss and incorporates it into the structure of self, making the ego “poor and empty.” The works featured here by Ellen Bleiwas, Erin Vincent and Kriss Janik manifest this internalized emptiness of melancholia by incorporating a sense of loss or element of incompleteness within their formal structure, provoking engagement with what Freud termed the “particular and peculiar ache” of melancholic loss, pain and grief.

Featuring an immersive industrial felt installation by Ellen Bleiwas, mixed-media sculptures by Erin Vincent, and a sound piece by Kriss Janik, After great pain, a formal feeling comes asks how material elements can communicate affectively. That is, the works here not only rely on the materiality of their form for their composition, but they actively embrace and showcase this materiality as central to the meaning and constitution of the work. Materiality is what contains the works’ affective texture; the material is the irreducible specificity of the form, the peculiar and particular ache, of the melancholic subject.

Special thanks to Philip Monk, Michael Maranda, Jennifer Fisher, The Felt Store

About the Artists:

Ellen Bleiwas is a Toronto-based visual artist with a Master of Architecture from McGill University. The shaping of space lies at the heart of her artistic practice, working at the intersection of installation art, sculpture and model making. She has completed residencies at the School of Visual Arts in New York, Takt Kunstprojektraum in Berlin, and Artscape Gibraltar Point on the Toronto Islands, and has exhibited at galleries, institutions and artist-run centers in Toronto, Montreal and New York.

Erin Vincent is a Toronto based-artist whose work focuses on discarded objects and their vestiges; embedded with accumulated history. Erin is a graduate of the Fine Arts program at the University of Waterloo. She received her degree in education from the University of Western Ontario and is currently in the MFA program at York University. Vincent exhibits her work locally and internationally, her work can be found in private collections in Canada and abroad.

Kriss Janik is a multi-media artist from Calgary whose work explores the reconstruction of memories. His practice engages objects that embody connections to past events, shaping identity and transforming memory. He holds a BFA from the University of Calgary and is currently completing his MFA at York University.

About the Curator:

Megan Toye is a PhD candidate in Art History and Visual Culture at York University. Her research explores feminist aesthetics, critical disability studies and participatory artistic practice. She completed her MA in Art History at McGill University in 2013 and worked as an Assistant Curator at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art in Kelowna, BC.


See also


After great pain …
2 – 13 May 2016

Installation views

Installation views
After great pain …
2 – 13 May 2016

After great pain, a formal feeling comes

After great pain, a formal feeling comes
off-site exhibition
2 May 2016




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