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Ace Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba
22 February - 23 March 2002
Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
28 March - 18 May 2003
Medicine Hat Museum & Art Gallery, Medicine Hat, Alberta

23 August - 5 October 2003

Installation; performance; textile

Collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts

polish is a large collection of silver-plated objects, gathered over the course of three years from flea markets and antique shops. An installation and performance piece, heaps of tarnished silver were displayed on a 24' long table as at a lavish banquet or trade fair. A woman sat at the head of the table ritually polishing. In preparation for the exhibition, each silver item was first classified and tagged with a hand-written identification label, with one linen napkin assigned to each object or subset of objects. As a result of the polishing process, the napkins were inscribed with the residues of tarnish transferred from object to cloth, and with the tiny tags removed from each object and pinned to the corresponding cloth. 

tarnish is a large textile piece made from the soiled linen napkins stitched together. The culmination of its twin project, polish, this cloth was draped like a large drawing or dappled veil down the wall and across the floor. Multiple hands in the work add mark, texture, and layers of meaning (hired attendants did most of the polishing) — colonial and settler histories; economies of obsolescence; collective memory, erasure and inscription; domestic labour; women's work; generational knowledge; skin, touch, embodied intelligence; time and residue.

View catalogue: polish

POLISH

MARY KAVANAGH   © 2023 Mary Kavanagh