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BREATHING UNDERWATER
GLYNIS HUMPHREY, edmonton

Exhibition October 20 to November 20, 2005
Opening Thursday, October 20, 7pm

The diaphragm barely moves, the body freezes, like an animal playing dead. This is the feeling I get when a stranger stares too long at my large maternal body. In an instant I am confronted with their rage, a rage so great that for a moment that seems eternal I am stunned into profound humiliation and my breathing stops completely. GH
 

Breathing Underwater is a palpable multi-media installation which unites and animates the sensory, emotional, and cultural phenomena that are commonly relegated to theoretical inquiry. Through large buoyant spherical forms that transmit sound waves and vibrations derived from the interior of the body, the participant is able to respond to individual and overlapping sounds through touch as well as listening. The video projects images of a woman who is submerged in deep black water. This inherently life-threatening situation evokes complex and diverse reactions that range from the seductive to the grotesque.



Glynis Humphrey:  From the age of two until puberty, I was a model for my father, a professional photographer. My artistic practice examines fifty-plus years of having been both the subject and object of "the gaze" and the impact that has had on the formation of my identity. Through video, I now author and reconfigure the gaze to explore embodiment from the point of view of the aging female grotesque.  My work articulates my experiences as a large middle-aged woman who does not conform to North-American society's restricted vision for femininity and sexual desirability.
 

The impossible environment of water is an idealized representation of a return to a primal state that oscillates between danger and security. The body sounds contained within the sculptural forms are visceral reminders of the engagement of the physical body with itself. The scale of the forms prompts one to remember being small and immersed in a dim world of sounds-sounds which hearken to the promise of a new life but which allude to vulnerabilities.

Breathing Underwater is dedicated to my daughter Carrie Johnson and to the memory of Emily Givner (1966 - 2004).



Glynis Humphrey grew up on the coast of North Wales, U.K. then emigrated to Edmonton, Alberta at age ten. She received a Fine Arts Diploma from Grant MacEwen College, Edmonton in 1993 then moved to Halifax to complete her BFA studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and has been a practicing artist in Halifax since that time. Humphrey works primarily in video, performance, and installation, and her work has been exhibited in Canada and the United States.
 

Heartfelt thanks to the many old and new friends who made this project possible: Gerald Humphrey, Liane Tessier, Kathleen Tetlock, Emily Givner, Gillian Collyer, Lukas Pearse, Daun Windover, Doug Porter, Marie Koehler, Yoris Ekering, Millie Breakspear, Sian Morris-Ross, Jo Shadbolt, Anne MacPherson, Bob Roemer, Noreen Battaglia, Julie LaPalme, Lawrence Taylor, Michelle Irving, Heather Anderson, Sara Angelucci, Pam Pike, Suzanne Funnell, Lori Rogers, Mary Green, Gabriela Medina, Jan Meyerowitz, Rita McKeough, Frances Dorsey, Heidi Ship, Ingrid Jenkner, Ann Wetmore, Tania Sures, Gerard Choy, Aidan Hammond, Hafidzah Hassan, Jan Peacock, Seana Kozar, Chuck Clark, Karen Spencer, Louise Dubreuil, Cristof Migone, Jo's Dive Shop, Carl Nigi at Production Services Atlantic, Waegwoltic Club, Bill Hecimovich at Praxair, Connors Diving Services, Boyne Clark Barristers, Artscape & Gibraltor Point Residency Program, The Centre for Art Tapes; and special thanks to Roxanne and Aneessa for all their assistance in mounting the exhibition.

I would  also like to thank the following organizations who have generously funded this project: The Canada Council for the Arts, The Nova Scotia Arts Council, and The Linda Joy Media Arts Society.