Curated by Darryn Doull
In this significant new installation, Emily Pelstring channels the figure of the hag to reconcile material and immaterial realms and re-evaluate the thresholds between technology, nature, body and spirit.
The hag is a cultural figure cast upon a threshold. A figure that shares many characteristics with the witch, the hag sits at the boundary between the tamed garden and the uncultivated wild: the hedge-rider. They reside between order and disorder, known and unknown, or inside and outside, operating fluidly across all spaces, perforating the limits of the edge.
Organized into two parallel rows, six stained glass windows evoke a medieval chapel and invite visitors into an atmospheric corridor of fallen shadows as animations pulse on the panes. Like the hag, viewers are situated at an anachronistic crossroads, hovering between neo-gothic architecture, the aesthetics of 1980s video experiments and contemporary image mapping technologies. Familiar icons and symbols become fluid mediums to reflect upon in-between spaces. Flickering candles, creeping familiars and mating salamanders work as powerful ciphers while barriers dissolve amongst processes of creation, destruction, and magical transfiguration.
The Passion of the Hedge-Rider highlights presumed thresholds of our material and immaterial lives, and questions the implications of these categorical divisions through entrancing ambient cinematic spectacle.
Video produced by Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. Videography and editing by Miles Rufelds.
About the Artist
Emily Pelstring is an artist and filmmaker, and is faculty in the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Emily's artistic research comes out of a desire to challenge normative ways of thinking about technological development by bringing antique media into contact with contemporary images. Her work takes interest in the material contingency of the cinematic spectacle, the evolution and cultural perception of various media forms, and the intersections of science and magic. These inquiries have been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council, and the results have been exhibited internationally in museums, galleries, DIY spaces, and festivals. She has directed many music videos and short experimental films, specializing in animation techniques for 16mm film and vintage analog video. In addition to her solo work, Emily is engaged in ongoing artistic collaborations with Jessica Mensch and Katherine Kline, her “sister-crones” in the performance trio The Powers. Emily was also a core organizer of The Witch Institute, an international symposium exploring media representations of the witch.
Emily Pelstring acknowledges the support of glass consultant and fabrication assistant Kelsey Haynes, the Faculty of Fine Arts Core Technical Centre at Concordia University and the Ontario Arts Council. Vocal performance by Isla Craig.
This exhibition is presented with the support of KWAG's Women of Influence for Women's Art.
Premier Exhibition Sponsor:
Image: Emily Pelstring, The Passion of the Hedge-Rider (digital still), 2022. Stained glass and video projection. Dimensions variable, each panel 38.1 x 101.6 cm. Courtesy of the Artist. Glass consultant and fabrication assistant: Kelsey Haynes. © Emily Pelstring.