Opening reception: Friday, March 23 at 8:00 pm

A hallmark moment for the budding professional anatomist must have been the creation of the first major and officially sanctioned anatomical theater in Padua, Italy in 1594. The gory prospect of such a place—with circular viewing mezzanines made to surround a table upon which various experiments could be performed on the human body—were all the rage for medical professionals and citizens alike who, among other things, were perhaps eager to colonize something a little closer to home. Of course with all things writ large and made explicable, the handling of bodies in this exploratory context took on a carefully-prescribed structure which has since become known as the scientific method—a useful, if sometimes vicious, way of looking that seems so often to reinforce the subject-object split seen everywhere today, from medicine, to art, to thinking too. The anatomical theater can be seen as symbolic of this tendency to examine and destroy, even as literal dissections took place there.

Arranged to capture the original spirit of these kind of anatomical theaters, WATCHERS looks at the relationship of the viewer and object, and how the body becomes the site of inscription for this crucial, though volatile, exchange. Working separately, Manolo Lugo and Anna Szaflarski have created works which seem to stand on opposite sides of the great subject-object divide, revealing in their similarities how each creates the other through an economy of reiterated viewing events. Szaflarski’s paintings play spectator to Lugo’s biomorphic puddles, each emulating the body in terms of composition and form respectively. It is the subtle differences in their modes of production, however, that betray different aims: whereas the paintings declare themselves to be as unconsciously produced as dreams in the course of evolving, they are still constructed scenes, and self-reflexively so. Lugo’s puddles on the other hand have been allowed to unfold naturally, guided as they are by the chemical traits of his materials, to reveal a quality of sentience and volition. It is this difference in attitude about the production of the body and identity—as a nebula looking to find form either from within or without—that unifies Lugo and Szaflarski’s works. It is with a keen sense of theatricality that each playfully exposes the follies and strengths of the other.

Manolo Lugo is a fourth year student at Emily Carr Institute. An unlikely candidate to participate in controlled experiments, his work often leads him to carefully test various materials to obtain the best, most transgressive, result. His practice also looks at the body’s relationship to architecture—in terms of both space and social structures—which oblige the body to comply with established hierarchies.

Anna Szaflarski is a third year student at Emily Carr on exchange in Berlin. Currently she is designing homes, castles, and sieging equipment, in order to then “burn it all.” Besides painting and drawing, she has recently written a pop song—which she thinks will probably turn out to be an isolated event. She contends that her blob paintings are mainly a problem-solving exercise to think about how to represent the body, in terms of inner and outer limits, and of the spatial limits of groups and individuals.