Amanda Arcuri & Ryan Van Der Hout: Fire & Dust
What happens to the artifacts of the civilized world when they no longer serve a purpose? Are they burned to the ground or left to collect dust? The year 2020 was simultaneously a period of great upheaval and of unprecedented stagnation for the billions of people who call earth home. At a time when personal isolation was being championed as a civic duty, outdated monuments to oppression were simultaneously being toppled through a collective uprising. Fire and Dust is a collaborative exhibition of recent works by Toronto-based artists Amanda Arcuri and Ryan Van Der Hout, bringing together each artist’s unique yet complementary interpretation of destruction as a form of creation.
Documented in her surreally vivid photographic works, Arcuri ritualistically burns discarded and expired floral arrangements, using the flame and the act of burning as metaphors for change and upheaval. Van Der Hout’s somber black-and-white photographs depict traditional subjects of natures morte—fruit, books, insects—covered in layers of dust and decay, conveying the accumulation of time and the results of neglect.
Through their allegorical takes on the classical still-life, the artists breathe life and death into seemingly incompatible human experiences. Juxtaposing Van Der Hout’s intensely monochromatic images with Arcuri’s seductively colourful scenes, Fire and Dust generates a dynamic opposition, asking viewers to contemplate the ways in which they experience change and time.