( An excerpted version of this review originally appeared in LOLA #13, Fall 2002;
this unedited review text has been provided to the artist by the author. )
Mark Laliberte - Teenage DNA
Common Ground (Windsor, ON)
May 10 - 22, 2002
(Review by David Morand)
As a collage artist, Mark Laliberte has the unique ability to constantly reinvent himself. The last time I saw his work, he had created a series of near-photographic posthuman paper doll portraits in stark black & white that seemed focused on a rip-and-tear process left purposefully visible. A year later, he's back with a new body of work, this time an ultra-clean full colour conceptual piece entitled Teenage DNA, a project that revels in its own razor sharp precision. For this series, one work was created each week throughout all of 2001, oddly enough totalling 53 pieces, specifically corresponding to the number of Mondays in that year. This structural timeline has been emphasized when the work was finally presented in Common Ground for its first complete viewing, laid out as a visual calendar in a massive and rather lop-sided set of four seasonal grids (damn that occasional fifth Monday in the month!) Each collage was created directly onto the interiors of those small metal cartridges that are left over when you shoot off Polaroid film, acting as a repetitive framing structure/panel border for these rather visceral little scenes. Despite a wide mix of source material, a visual resonance exists throughout the entire body of work that is at times remarkable. Laliberte manages to create small interconnected scenic images that are simple yet lush, with a range of abstract thoughts and half-hidden meanings laced throughout. Narrative threads weave through the calendar with a dry, dark sense of humour present at all times, though no actual linear storyline surfaces in the traditional sense of narrative. Occasionally, the works reverberate with real life: plane crashes seem to dominate the September/October period, for instance, though the crash motif was already established earlier in the project, seeded into the mix by the artists admitted fear of flying. As an image maker, Laliberte surfaces as a kind of urban surrealist whose vision is deeply rooted in all manner of contemporary sub-culture, and Teenage DNA makes me think of Max Ernst alive today and messing his way through a stack of modern magazines and comics, stripping away all the fluff and cutting into something entirely new.