Rose, Dear

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Nicole Kelly Westman

Walter Phillips Gallery, Satellite Space

Nicole Kelly Westman, still from "Rose, Dear" (2016). Commissioned by Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre

Nicole Kelly Westman, still from "Rose, Dear" (2016). Commissioned by Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre

Rose, Dear
Nicole Kelly Westman

February 10 - July 3, 2016
Walter Phillips Gallery, Satellite Space
Eric Harvie, West Lobby 

Northeast of Banff are the rugged plateaus of the Canadian Badlands of Alberta. Deemed unsuitable for agriculture due to its moon-like topography, this rich geological area was a coalmining site during the early twentieth century. In the interior of these Badlands is the almost-deserted hamlet of Wayne, and at its centre, the Rosedeer Hotel. Still functioning today as a hotel, the Rosedeer is a signifier of a community abandoned by industry. With numerous ghost sightings reported, the hotel is rumoured to be haunted; the third floor of the Rosedeer is now sealed off and its windows painted black– a frail effort to enclose unruly female spirits.

As a gesture to these spirits of the third floor, Nicole Kelly Westman alters the name of the Rosedeer hotel, to Rose, Dear. This splitting of language is mirrored in the exhibition space, with the gallery lobby divided in two. The first half of the gallery is lighter and displays a chromogenic photograph in its original rose-gold frame, on loan from the hotel lobby. The other half is darkened, its windows aglow in streetlamp sodium-vapour orange. In the immersive, darkened half of the gallery, is a cucoloris—a device used to shape shadow and light over subjects, commonly used to create intrigue on the faces and bodies of actresses during the film noir period—encased in a lightbox. However, Westman’s cucoloris is inverted; instead of casting shadow on its subjects, it becomes the subject of the work itself. Inscribed in the corner of the re-photographed apparatus is a text that reads, “it smells of sage out here, like an old friend,” perhaps a nod to the wild prairie sage that grows around Wayne. 

Westman’s film Rose, Dear (2016) is a series of short vignettes that are rendered through analogue techniques such as Super8 film, illustrated animation and slide-film, alongside digital footage. Westman’s particular type of image-making is non-linear; each scene is disrupted by folding, flattening, interruptions of the image plane. The clips are stretched and pulled as they traverse an unknown interior. The Super8 captures an orangey dawn glow; a hidden figure delicately uproots cacti, creating a sinister tableau vivant; words melt, but just long enough to read the double entendre, "I'll hang in the guest room"; and female apparitions cross the landscape, leaving the image frame as swiftly as they entered. The restlessness of this film speaks to a story not yet revealed, where the landscape becomes character, not just setting. The character’s identities and purpose are largely concealed, yet the urgency in their stride and the great effort to cloak parts of the image allude to a truth just beyond the frame. 

Rose, Dear is in conjunction with the 2016 Exposure Photography Festival. Walter Phillips Gallery would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and Canada Council for the Arts. The artist would also like to thank Dave Arsenault, Ashley Bedet, Ginger Carlson, Kurtis Denne, Areum Kim, Jeremy Pavka and Stephen Waddell. Co-curated by Katarina Veljovic and Peta Rake. 


Artist Biography

Nicole Kelly Westman is a visual artist of Métis and Icelandic descent. She grew up in a supportive home with strong-willed parents – her mother, a considerate woman with inventive creativity, and her father, an anonymous feminist. Her work culls from these formative years for insight and inspiration. Existing beyond the binary definitive of a specific medium, Nicole Kelly Westman, has had the pleasure and privilege to be curated into exhibitions by remarkable females including; Peta Rake, Kristy Trinier, and cheyanne turions. Westman holds a BFA from Emily Carr University and is the current Director of Stride Gallery.