Geoffrey Farmer, For Every Jetliner Used In An Artwork…

Colleen Brown

There is a Horizon

  • Geoffrey Farmer: For Every Jetliner Used In An Artwork…
  • Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver, 21 October to 18 November, 2006

In all of Geoffrey Farmer’s continually shifting installations, a visit to the gallery on any particular day would be a visit to a completed work. Although the exhibitions are in constant flux, open gallery hours are moments of stationary display. The completion is similar to the compositional whole of a carefully selected film still. Farmer acts just outside of the viewer’s direct experience while the gallery is closed. Some of his actions, intended for the camera, explore the physical possibilities of objects. The recordings of Farmer on video are limited to limbs entering the frame or as an off-camera animating force. Evidence of other actions can only be accessed by witnessing the daily expansion and contraction of the exhibitions. Successive alterations of these works offer a direct expression of time not often afforded to matter.

The exhibition began with a minimalist appearance. The opening view of a whole object was constructed from a section of a commercial jet abstracted by removing the exterior fuselage in order to expose its serial construction. The plane had been used as a film set that Farmer found, long abandoned, in a barn located in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. Farmer used only the section of the jet most familiar to travellers: the passenger cabin with its rows of seats, tray-tables, luggage holds, and windows. A platform raised the set to waist height. From the rear of the plane, where the tail would have been, a long view down the aisle of seats was exposed. Raising the floor of the plane provided a view of the cabin from a low and unfamiliar angle. A close look at the set gave the impression of revealing secrets of filmmaking and planemaking. Although I relish having movie magic undone, I do not actually want to know about plane magic. I prefer to continue to think that real planes are held together with magic bolts, not the real bolts I could see all too clearly from my low view into the plane.

Plane anxieties range from niggling thoughts of technological hubris to persistent visions of crashes and explosions. Plane anxiety is about expansion. Even if travellers have overcome these fears, they must embark knowing that they will inevitably arrive at their destination with parts of themselves persisting in a different time zone. The cabin holds its occupants in stasis, muting the forces at work outside, while the plane brings two distant points side-by-side. Foreign geographies and cultures that are physically and cognitively distant become very close to us in time. Through air travel, private and collective panic attacks co-mingle with spatial and temporal liberation.

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About this Article

There is a Horizon was first published in Fillip 5 in Spring 2007. For more articles from this issue, see the Table of Contents.

Colleen Brown received her BA in Psychology from Simon Fraser University, her Diploma of Electrophysiology from the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and her BFA from Emily Carr Institute. Brown has exhibited work at the Helen Pitt Gallery, Artspeak, and Tracey Lawrence Gallery, Vancouver and SKOL, Montréal.


image: Geoffrey Farmer, For Every Jetliner Used In An Artwork… Courtesy of the artist

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