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Current Exhibition


  • Jill Price

    Jill Price

  • Tonia Di Risio

    Tonia Di Risio

The Reconfiguration of Similar Elements to a Separate Effect

Jill Price
Tonia Di Risio

May 17 - July 7, 2019

What are the ways of things? Alternatively, how do we come to want the things we want, and what do we do with them afterwards? How does the desire for material things serve us? And how do we, in turn, serve material goods? How can we care for them and compassionately acknowledge their laborious, earth-bound, origins?

These are the questions at the core of the exhibition, "The Reconfiguration of Similar Elements to a Separate Effect." Artists Jill Price and Tonia Di Risio explore material wealth from different perspectives. Where Tonia engages with the image, its place in advertising and the production of material desire, Jill considers the end-of-life process of our textile goods, the material of our material desire.

Clean architecture, extravagant platings, carefully designed objects and furniture form islands of stuff on The Durham Art Gallery’s walls. The pictures that make up Tonia Di Risio’s collages are taken from architecture, design, and food magazines. Now free from their disposable bindings, the enlarged images have been transferred to a durable vinyl, their archipelagoes folding around walls and across corners.

For Tonia, the images she uses in "Spread" (2017) inhabit the dual position of creating and satisfying our wants and needs. In their playful arrangements, these groupings suggest the perpetual nowness of the Instagram feed, signalling that the role of these images is to provoke an insatiable desire for more, more often, and more again. Whether flipping through magazines or scrolling through Instagram, imaginations compile lists of desired objects and arrange them just so into lives. Sometimes, however, these images act counter to their purpose and through the act of looking they can fulfil one’s wanton desire, at least for now. But, what nourishment do these images, corresponding objects and our desire for them, provide?

For Jill Price, Instagram provides a platform for the documentation of "Groundlings" (2019). Jill photographs forgotten or abandoned cloth items in the surroundings she finds them: the warm scarf left on the park bench, the tea towel that once protected hands from the hot pot of soup, a single cozy mitten that fell under the car in the parking lot… Once found, Jill adopts these items into her life, cleaning, mending, and tending to them.

Presented alongside "Groundlings" are soft sculptures called "Entanglements" (2019). A variety of household textiles including stuffed animals are undone, unwoven, unstitched and then reassembled to create new, sculptural forms affixed to furniture and figurines. Through her undoing, Jill makes present the laborious doing of the original maker. The formal entwining of these materials mimics the interconnectedness of all bodies (human, earthly and animal) along the supply chain. In her redoing, Jill exaggerates the excess that comes from overproduction, accumulation and adornment of bodies and surfaces.

In 2016 alone Canadians produced 24, 940, 747 tonnes of waste— 10,225,943 tonnes disposed of by homes. [1] Landfills are reaching capacity, for example the local Normanby Landfill was closed in September 2018. According to the Basil Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, Annex II, waste classified as household is likely toxic to environments and populations and thus requires special consideration when being moved across, and accepted into, national borders. [2] Our waste is toxic, and we don’t have room for it.

The Canadian company, Chronic Plastics Inc.’s, fifty containers of what was promised to be recyclables arrived at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), the Philippines in 2013, from June to August. The recyclables were purchased to be processed and reused. Once opened, three containers were revealed to be carrying hazardous household waste. [3]

Almost six years later the containers remain in the care of the Philippines. In April of this year, Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte sent a public message to Canada that he will “declare war” if the containers remain in their waters. Later, Duterte clarified that he was using the language of war to emphasize a point and his extreme frustration with Canada. [4]

Designed in California, made in China, purchased in Canada, disposed of in the Philippines, from magazines to mittens, items of mass consumption are crowding landfills globally. Artists Tonia Di Risio and Jill Price reconfigure similar elements to a separate effect by manipulating materials that are already in circulation and bound for the landfill or recycling plant. As garbage continues to pile up and the climate continues to change, it may be worth considering the source of one’s material desires from a global perspective. The exhibition prompts the question: When, if ever, is mass consumption ethical?


[1] Statistics Canada. Table 38-10-0032-01 Disposal of waste, by source.
[2] Convention, Basel. "The Basel Convention at a Glance..." Basel Convention Website. July 18, 2014. Accessed May 07, 2019. http://www.basel.int/TheConvention/Overview/tabid/1271/Default.aspx.
[3] Gavilan, Jodesz. "TIMELINE: Canada Garbage Shipped to the Philippines." Rappler. April 24, 2019. Accessed May 07, 2019. https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/188654-timeline-canada-garbage-philippines.
[4] Convention, Basel. "The Basel Convention at a Glance..." Basel Convention Website. July 18, 2014. Accessed May 07, 2019. http://www.basel.int/TheConvention/Overview/tabid/1271/Default.aspx.

| IMAGE | Tonia Di Risio, Gorge (detail), 2019
| IMAGE | Jill Price, Groundling, 2019