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Rehearsal for Objects Lie on a Table

Installation view of

Arrangements By:

Diane Borsato, Aleesa Cohene, Erika DeFreitas, Derek Liddington, Gertrude Stein, and Terrarea

Rehearsal for Objects Lie on a Table

March 18–April 30, 2016

A composition by Emelie Chhangur

Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

This exhibition is a rehearsal for Gertrude Stein’s 1922 play Objects Lie on a Table. It is also a dramaturgical proposition for its contemporary staging and reception. Objects Lie on a Table is a “still life” but its composition is not simply what is fixed in the frame, static in the picture. In this non-narrative play, a constellation of activities—of objects and people coming and going—dynamically shapes its form through an arrangement that is never resolved: in Stein’s “still life” the play of objects and relations that constitute “dramatic action” are only ever “equal to its occasion” (105). As a still-life-in-movement, Objects Lie on a Table playfully performs and plays around with pictorial conventions, as well as doing other strange and funny things. So we shall see.

Objects Lie on a Table could be considered a conversation between material objects and the spaces and people that shape and are shaped by their presence, their proximity, and their purposes. The play is a compositional experiment that takes the still life genre as a prompt to reconsider relations between subjects and objects (agency) or foreground and background (gestalt) or parts and wholes (mereology) and propose new ways of thinking arrangement that, in turn, arrange new ways of thinking. Just as Stein’s still life was composed in the continuous present—a mode of writing she likened to the pictorial innovations of her contemporaries, such as the painters Picasso or Cézanne—our rehearsal for her play today is developed as an iterative form (the rehearsal) through which to think, not about objects already arranged, but rather to think through objects that make new arrangements. We take our cue from the “nuns” that open the play. Perhaps a symbol of order and restraint, these nuns are in fact playing with objects, having “fun with funny things” (105), altering arrangements, in other words, messing with the system.

This exhibition is produced as part of the requirements for the MVS degree in Curatorial Studies at the University of Toronto.

Opening Reception

Friday March 18, 2016, 6:00pm
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

Between Thing and Agent: A Vocabulary for Performing Objects

Institutions Talk about the Objects
Saturday March 19, 2016, 10:00am
Featuring Sarah Blake, Johanna Householder, Nic Sammond, Marlis Schweitzer, and Mark Sussman
Moderated by Antje Budde
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

An Objects Banquet

Saturday March 19, 2016, 12:00pm
Featuring artists from Rehearsal for Objects Lie on a Table
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

Objects Lie on a Table: A Performance

Saturday April 2, 2016, 2:00pm
Sunday April 10, 2016, 7:00pm
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

Do not invent a tablecloth: An evening with Ryan Driver and Terrarea

Wednesday April 6, 2016, 6:00pm
East Common Room, Hart House

Stein Salon Revisited and Reversed: An afternoon with BONERKILL

Saturday April 16, 2016, 2:00pm
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

No Reading After the Internet: The Origin of the Work of Art

Saturday April 30, 2016, 2:00pm
Featuring Kevin Temple and Michael Maranda
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

Our Supporters

We gratefully acknowledge the operating support from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council, with additional project support from University of Toronto MVS Curatorial Studies Program at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, and Manulife.

Title Image: Diane Borsato, Tea Service (the conservators will wash the dishes), 2013. Museum action/intervention and archival photographs. Courtesy of the Artist.

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