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Outside In

From Her Wooden Sleep 2

I’m thrilled to have run a writing workshop at The Power Plant this summer to complement Ydessa Hendeles’ The Milliner’s Daughter. Here’s a recap of the workshop and the exhibition.

Ydessa Hendeles explores perceptions of difference and diversity in her work, assembling objects and artefacts into contemporary fables about the way representation and distortion, appropriation and assimilation can filter group and individual identities. For her first retrospective exhibition at a public institution, The Power Plant has been hosting The Milliner’s Daughter, a selection of her artworks drawn from the past decade.

There’s a great review of the exhibit by Murray Whyte over at The Toronto Star. About the installation From her wooden sleep . . . (2013) he writes:

There’s a sense of fate being decided, a life hanging in the balance. It brims with dread, an implied threat: Who is this person, propped up for others to scrutinize, judge, dissect? It is a question that echoes across the ages, through every human grouping, from tight family unit all the way up to nationhood itself: What makes one belong, and another not?

The Milliner’s Daughter has been running all summer long. The Power Plant has scheduled a number of public and ticketed events to complement the exhibit, and I facilitated one of these events: an afternoon program titled Outside In.

Outside In was a hands-on writing workshop that invited participants to consider themes overlapping with The Milliner’s Daughter: different perspectives about outsiders and insiders, ourselves and others. We started with a guided tour of From her wooden sleep . . . by The Power Plant’s Josh Heuman. Josh was an awesome host: he helped us navigate this enormous installation, and understand the relationship between the hundreds of curios and wooden artists’ manikins in the room.

After sampling other pieces in the exhibit, we retreated to The Power Plant’s boardroom to create and share new pieces of flash fiction, poetry and memoir. We wrote in response to exercises about culture and customs, love and loss, and some Leonard Cohen lyrics thrown in for good measure. As with all my workshops, we followed the Amherst Writers & Artists method to ensure a safe and non-critical environment. It was a terrific afternoon of art and introspection. Thanks to Josh and Tim of The Power Plant for making it happen.

From Her Wooden Sleep, Ydessa Hendeles

From Her Wooden Sleep, Ydessa Hendeles

Ydessa Hendeles is a pioneering exponent of curating as a creative artistic practice. Blurring the borders between collector, curator and artist, she has fashioned her own distinctive space in the contemporary art world. She  explores perceptions of difference and diversity in her work, assembling objects and artefacts into contemporary fables about the way representation and distortion, appropriation and assimilation can filter group and individual identities. Read more about Ydessa Hendeles and The Milliner’s Daughter at The Power Plant.

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