By: Simon Fuh
Based out of Ottawa, artist Cheryl Pagurek works across media, focusing mainly on photo and video-based art. Over the past two decades her work has been exhibited throughout Canada, including numerous artist-run-centres in Ottawa, Gatineau and Victoria, festivals such as Nuit Blanche Ottawa-Gatineau, Luminocity in Kamloops, and Art Souterrain in Montreal. In her own words her work “probes and disrupts our usual expectations of photography and video” and it manages to be diverse, entrancing, meticulous and ever-evolving.
Bodies of Water (2014) was selected for Nuit Blanche Ottawa-Gatineau’s curated section of the festival and engaged audience members visually through a large light box-like projection and audibly through large speakers that rested beneath, undulating sound throughout the area. The projection combined the “fluidity of gestural life drawing with urban reflections in water”, linking our human narrative of journey with the colour, energy, permanence and ephemerality of moving water. It was a fan favourite and was also presented at Luminocity.
Cheryl’s current project is an interactive video and audio installation that uses 3D depth sensing technology, encouraging us to contemplate our daily connections in the context of a widely digitized and networked world. The piece, though still in production, can be viewed at her website www.cherylpagurek.com and looks to be intimate, challenging and beautiful. This project is a leap into the world of new media for Pagurek and could be the start of something new and exciting in the artist’s career. “This is all very new to me so far” she said in a recent interview, “part of the practice is about discovering what can be done, which with digital media of course is always more… Each new project I try to challenge myself in some way. I’ll have an idea, try new things, and let the artwork guide me.” Artengine technologists Ray Gould and Jean-Claude Batista will be working on the project with Pagurek over the coming months, aiding with the sound design and software development respectively.
Pagurek’s practice has evolved materially and spatially over the years, moving from mainly artist run centres to now public spaces. “When you go into a gallery you’ve made a choice to go in” she notes, “but with public art it’s definitely a different way of thinking. It’s very rewarding to be able to affect people that don’t have a specialized education in art and can pause for a moment and have an experience”. Pagurek has participated in a number of festivals and one public video-art commission. It’s likely that we’ll see a publicly successful and exciting final product out of this new interactive artwork.
From her sculptural and installation work of the early 1990’s to photography to video to new media, Pagurek is unafraid of technological change and seems to flourish in the new possibilities that digital media created for artists. While the technical characteristics of her work have changed, her aesthetic voice has remained curious, caring and bold. In terms of the excitement that new media can bring Pagurek says: “I think the changes are great, but with any new technology one has to be aware of how it alters behaviour. As a gallery goer, what appeals to me are projects wherein the technology serves the artwork and not just technology for the sake of technology.”
Make sure to visit Cheryl Pagurek’s website and check out more of her work.
Simon Fuh is working on a BFA within the Department of Visual Arts, Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Regina.