ARTLAB RESIDENCY 2021
September 9 – October 9, 2021
Leisure (Meredith Carruthers & Susannah Wesley)
The Ceremony is a research-based exhibition developed as part of the Foreman Art Gallery’s ArtLab residency and further supported by the Rozynski Art Centre. As part of their residency, the art collective Leisure investigated the previously uncatalogued archives of Eastern Townships ceramicist Wanda Rozynska Staniszewska (1929–2007). The archives are located at the Rozynski Art Centre, the artist’s former home and studio.
The exhibition is directly inspired by a document found in Rozynska’s personal papers. Entitled “The Ceremony,” it describes a series of objects, costumes, gestures and forms intended as “symbols for the renewal and healing of friends.” Leisure reads this ceremony as a testimony to art and life, to endings and beginnings, to overcoming obstacles and to recognizing and honouring the things that hold us in place. The ceremony and its hopes for creative renewal corresponds to societal shifts that have occurred since 2020. The document’s insistence on metamorphosis as a constant force in life and its overarching focus on care, support and friendship during periods of trauma and healing gain new relevance in the current climate.
Leisure is a conceptual collaborative art practice between Montreal-based artists Meredith Carruthers (1975) and Susannah Wesley (1976). Working together under the name “Leisure” since 2004, they engage with cultural historical narratives through research, conversation, published texts, curatorial projects and art production. Their recent research on collaboration, gesture and spatial narrative has included Conversation with magic forms (most recently exhibited at CAG Vancouver, 2020), the solo retrospective How one becomes what one is (Musée d’art de Joliette, 2018), Panning for gold/Walking you through (Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2017) and Dualité/Dualité (Artexte, Montreal, 2015).
For a number of years Leisure has looked to art history and the lives and practices of often overlooked female artists to provide models for complex, multi-faceted and collaborative ways of living and creating. They examine the alternative practices resulting from these strategies and question how these models might apply to present-day realities—across shifting definitions of gender and our ever-changing relationship to work/life balance.
Their research involves interviews with artists, site-visits, reading and rifling through archives, reflecting on their own experiences, and vicariously inhabiting the spatial and material experiences of their subjects.