Photo courtesy KWAG

KW|AG visitors stumble into a whole new world

Photo courtesy KWAG
Photo courtesy KWAG

David Hoffos probes into the curious side of human nature with The Lost Minutes

Anya Lomako

A mysterious, ancient creature has taken up residence in the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (KW|AG). Compiling the coveted old and the exposed, technological new, The Lost Minutes, Stage One: Shadow of the Platypus, is the gallery’s latest installation.

“Almost a month into the run of the show and we are still charmed by it,” says Crystal Mowry, Senior Curator at KW|AG. She says the exhibit is the first of a series of installations, the exact direction of which is yet unannounced.

Through her correspondence with the artist, Mowry describes the series as, “one that would exist as vignettes and include an appearance by one of planet’s most unusual creatures.”

The author, David Hoffos, is a contemporary Canadian artist from Lethbridge, Alberta. He is most known for Scenes from the House Dream, a series of miniature diorama exhibits completed between 2003 and 2008 and displayed in Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax among other locations.

Hoffos’s installations are known to make the viewer feel unfit to experience a world that feels both intimately familiar and uncanny at the same time.

This recent exhibit departs from that trend. Entering The Lost Minutes feels like walking into the middle of one of David’s miniatures, instead of peering from the outside in.

As you enter the dimly lit Eastman Gallery at the KW|AG, you are momentarily blinded as your eyes adjust between the two environments. Hoffos commonly uses sensory adjustments to persuade the audience to reposition, shuffle or otherwise strain for the purpose of seeing something new. Upon entering, you are confronted with a diorama of human projections, approaching the central artifice with differing degrees of interest. In the center is a platypus skeleton, ivory and flickering gold in colour, rotating, suspended in mid-air.

The exhibit feels both old and new, conjuring up the melancholia of an archaic historic museum, while positioning those sensations against the digitized image of the platypus. It’s this disconnect that “transports our visitors to a seemingly different time and place than what they may have expected,” says Mowry.

What results is an eerie sensation that something is out of place. Whether it’s the platypus, the human projections, or the viewer, it is an entirely subjective experience.
The definite part is Hoffos’s success in making the viewer re-evaluate his or her placement in relation to art, curiosity, and technological methods of sensory delivery.
Mowry encourages people to be open to the role art can play in our lives, saying it’s important to, “trade any parochial perceptions about what our community is and can be for a sense of stewardship.”

The exhibit runs September 13, 2013 – January 5, 2014. Free admission. Regular gallery hours are as follows:

Monday to Wednesday – 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursdays – 9:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday – 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday – 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday – 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.