Joanie Ellen is a Los Angeles based installation artist and brand new Toronto transplant. She makes sculpture, furniture, and shelters often within video and sound installations. Woodworking, building and welding are informed by sense memory, physical comedy, primal regression and repetition techniques. Questions of sexuality and identity engage directly with feminist discourse. Opposing creative impulses are in play: the act of creating for its visceral pleasures versus the methodical premeditation inherent in composition and design.
Ellen’s installations often implicate the viewer in a theatrical experience. Participants have been invited to rock on chairs, enter human nests and oversized panties of protest, fondle soaps, waddle in waders, dig in dirt, all within immersive sound or video projections. Elements of the ridiculous and the absurd are set within these landscapes.
Ellen’s recent work has been referred to as theater without actors, where viewer is protagonist. It is sculpture as performance, and performance displaced in video. The installations pit giving birth, motherhood, reproduction, and the female body against the minimalist strategy of taking the artist out. She subverts cultural strategies that work to objectify women and invites the viewer to participate in these critical fictions.
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