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Installation: Andrea Cooper’s Too Far North // Eastern Edge Gallery

by Lori Clarke, July 5th, 2014

Andrea Cooper’s Too Far North

I’ve been involved with Andrea Cooper as a sound design collaborator since 2002 when her video installation work featured giant, heroic women appearing in unlikely Newfoundland landscapes. My perspective on Andrea’s work, therefore, is biased. I am, however, privileged with some insider micro-scoop while also being able to back up and see Too Far North in the context of a large body of work, a continually evolving art practice and nuanced gaze that comes from life experience.

Andrea’s work articulates a difficult edge between the emotional heart of intimate human connection, and the struggle to make sense of our complicity in the destruction of the earth. She doesn’t do this by leaving town. She engages habitats and species, and people grieving amidst the onslaught of those images of the cutest cats (aww), hyper-sexualized bodies, guns, disappearing landscapes and disintegrating personae.

Her participation is not psychoanalytic, but does move from self-consciousness to a deepening of awareness of the hidden undergarments of psyche, of soul.

In Too Far North, Cooper is unapologetic. Humans use anthropomorphism. We do it all the time. We see nature and project ourselves and invest meaning. We make metaphors, almost always through some kind of improvisational process, whether with words, images, whether alone with paper, at a computer, or in a room with another person using instruments of wood, metal and skin. Cooper’s improvisation occurs in the writing, and later in the editing and juxtaposing of images, it is not linear but emerges from a deeper narrative from the underbelly cut open, climbed into and scraped for meaning. It is deliciously ambiguous. Too Far North is about longing, about grieving missing (misplaced?) intimacy. We remain removed as audience and possibly uncomfortable, reminded of our separation and longing. It does not fall into cultural nostalgia nor the recapitulation of activist stances dug in- this would be unbearably dull.

Voices of lovers invite us to engage as lovers who be/long. Ice, like liquid water, is characterized by its movement (which is change), and its sound or voice. Liquid takes the form of its container until it bursts the banks, while cold ice pans and the architecture of icebergs change violently. Suddenly the key doesn’t fit the lock anymore- we are “no longer welcome here.” “Listen” the polar bear whispers.


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