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'Head Gusset' by Fin Simonetti at COOPER COLE, Toronto

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Head Gusset, like all exhibitions by Canadian artist Fin Simonetti, is set within a narrative where the desire for security is preeminently met with measures of control. Because Simonetti's work always anticipates an intruder, her exhibitions can’t help but also serve as invitations for the uninvited guest. Culling a lexicon of objects designed to assuage our fears, she highlights the inherent slippage between the body as threat and the body as threatened. In Head Gusset, the danger of a predatory animal is swiftly placated by its comforting toy substitute.

The oscillation between security and emergency is bolstered by the material of stained glass, connoting a sense of sanctuary. Stained glass work, a trade available to Italian immigrants coming to North America, was passed on from the artist’s uncle. The stalactites of glass composing the teeth of two bear traps cannot withstand the force should the gusset be released. Enshrined by their own futility, these sculptures act as offerings to those who enter into the space of the exhibition; like false idols, they are vessels for our projected anxieties in the absence of real security.

While appearing accidental, the wallworks’ arrangements in Head Gusset are contingent on a set of instructions. The unexpected whimsy of shapes and their connective webs of solder trace three patterns for various teddy bear constructions. Disarticulated and dismembered, the toys prefigure the carnage of the ensnared bear or his potential victim. This upended meaning captures the nominal history of the teddy bear: unable to secure big game on his hunting escapade on the Mississippi, Theodore Roosevelt’s assistant, a former slave, tied a bear to a tree as a confirmed trophy for the president. Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot this incapacitated prey evokes Simonetti’s strategy: the translation of violence into consolation through a series of subjugations.

— Loreta Lamargese

25.10.19 — 22.11.19

COOPER COLE

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