Practice: Photography and Sound Installation
Date of Lecture: 1997-02-20
Known internationally for his sculptural practice, Toronto-based artist Robin Collyer has worked with photography for over thirty years. Throughout the 1980s, Collyer frequently turned his lens to the hybrid structures people construct from their surroundings as a means of adapting to the encroaching environment. His interest in these compulsory acts of bricolage also informed his sculptural projects at the time.
Collyer’s photographs have consistently displayed an interest in the juxtaposition of landscape with text, and many key points of irony hinge upon the unexpected appearance of words and phrases within otherwise commonplace environments. The over-abundance of textual messages resulting from modern-day advertising campaigns became the subject of Collyer’s 1992-1998 series of retouched photos. Digitally removing all lettering and numbers from the urban and suburban settings he portrayed, the photographs call attention to the disruption that results when our usual visual reference points are erased. Underscoring how naturalized the assimilation of random texts has become, Collyer’s act of deletion allows the viewer to reflect upon the ubiquity of labels and marketing.
Robin Collyer has recently completed a commissioned series of photographs depicting silos in Orléans, France. Collyer’s photographs reveal how domestic and industrial dwellings tend to intermingle, and the architectural austerity of the silos tends to be mirrored by the houses that surround them.
Collyer has had numerous exhibitions in Canada and Europe and he served as the Canadian representative at the 1993 Venice Biennale. Robin Collyer: Photographs (2000) was a major traveling survey exhibition of Collyer’s work held at the Art Gallery of York University and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa. Collyer is represented by Susan Hobbs Gallery in Toronto.