November 20th -November 27th
Erica Stocking is an artist working at the intersection of sculpture and performance. She received her BFA from the Emily Carr Institute in 2004 and is currently pursuing her MFA at OCAD University in Toronto. Her work has been exhibited at The Vancouver Art Gallery, Artspeak and the Western Front. Earlier this year her project The Artist’s Studio Is Her Bedroom was the title of a group exhibition at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver. She has produced a number of public artworks, her most recent commission in Surrey, British Columbia entitled Blankets (2019). She is a founding member of the artist collective Norma, active from 2001 - 2014. Her current work explores artistic practice as both formal structure and embodied movement in the world.
MotherGinger is a store whose namesake is the beloved drag character in Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet. This character wears an enormous skirt out of which eight young dancers emerge to perform. In the store setting, one encounters these dancers as mannequins who perform eight collections that the boutique stocks.
MotherGinger is an avatar, a performative sculpture, an object to get inside and move within. Speaking the language of commerce just barely, the store is a gathering device for narrative strands which evoke mundane moments of ontological confusion.
A retail store has a flow of commodities into and out of it, a container for the re-sourcing of capital. Variously doubled or tripled, for sale, for rent, for loan, for exchange, the garments one encounters in MotherGinger are as unstable as the context the viewing subjects themselves operate within. What forms of capital can possibly flow through here?
This artwork follows a lineage which begins with Gustav Courbet’s staging of the first known one man show of his own paintings in 1867 to which he charged admission. Claes Oldenburg’s The Store, and Tracy Emin and Sarah Lucas’s The Shop, among others, inspire my use of the store as a containing device for my own artistic output and echos the widespread use of social media platforms, such as instagram, to construct one’s visibility in the world. The use of these platforms for commerce reinforces how constructed subjectivities, whether an individual or a large brand conglomerate, facilitate their self replication through desire.
A retail store is a node in a larger supply network and can be understood as a bridge between an old form of economics and a new one. Mackenzie Wark points out in a recent book that large retailers appear to deal in commodities but in fact they deal in information, in data. Wark goes on to suggest that capitalism has been superseded by a new economic system: one she calls vectorialism, where vector describes the infrastructure along which data flows creating wealth for the ones who control it. MotherGinger emulates a retail store as a vector in capital drag.
I am not interested in generating massive personal economic wealth as vectoralists are, rather this performance of a store describes the surface of a collective body to dance in. In Beyond the Periphery of the Skin: Rethinking, Remaking, and Reclaiming the Body in Contemporary Capitalism Silvia Federici writes: “In essence, the act of dancing is an exploration and invention of what a body can do: of its capacities, its languages, its articulations of the strivings of our being…dance mimics the process by which we relate to the world, connect with other bodies, transform ourselves and the space around us.” (123). MotherGinger is the body of an economic avatar, to dance an intergenerational, gender-bending, multiplicity-in-a-singularity dance, she is a bit of comic relief in the unending dream sequence of confectionary delights.
The act of getting dressed in the morning begins our daily choice of how we will move in the world. What space is there in our day for play, for joy, to dream? The garments one encounters in MotherGinger might prompt us to get dressed differently, or not at all.