cuculoris, a time machine for shadows

May 31 — Jul 13, 2019



cucoloris, a time machine for shadows was a solo exhibition by Nicole Kelly Westman. Featuring five artworks across sculpture, photography, video, and installation, the exhibition considered the poetics, temporalities, materiality, and immateriality of light. The gallery was bathed in an amber glow, recalling the warm tones of golden hour. This fleeting period that takes place shortly after sunrise or before sunset was rendered fixed, simultaneously replicating and defying the rhythm of light in the natural world. This phenomenological slippage between organic and synthetic markings of light, and the memories of place and time conjured in response, were central to Westman’s process for this body of work. 

For the titular work cucoloris, a time machine for shadows (2019) Westman created cucolorises for the windows on the gallery’s east wall. Cucolorises are devices used in film, theatre, and photography to diffuse the harsh glare of artificial lights. Created by cutting a stencil with amorphous forms into a surface that is placed in front of a light source, cucolorises help mimic natural light by creating a softer shadow pattern. Using fir plywood, Westman laser cut shapes based on tracings she made of tree shadows in Vancouver. The resulting motif resembled dappled light permeating foliage, a pattern that gestured towards what stood on the site before the building’s construction in 1922. 

To enter the exhibition, visitors were invited to pass through faux light falling on drawn drapes (2018), a set of silk curtains positioned at the gallery’s door. Two poems by Westman were hand embroidered into the fabric by Calgary-based textile artist Jolie Bird. The curtains were digitally printed with patterns made by projecting light through a custom cucoloris and coloured gels. These patterns were further echoed in outside her bedroom window (2019), an installation of ponderosa puzzle bark threaded together and hung vertically from the ceiling. The pieces of bark cast shadows on the back of a white screen where Westman’s twelve-minute film for nights bathed in sodium vapour (2019) was projected. Shot on a Super 8 camera, the film presented a montage of light filtering through leaves and curtained windows to a soundtrack composed by Calgary-based musician Kurtis Denne. 

In gesture of trust (2019), Westman presented a drinking station with a glass beverage dispenser filled with water collected from a mountain spring at Harvie Heights, Alberta. The station also included amber tumblers and paper cup protectors illustrated with drawings of mountains and text that read “waning brash of bruises exchanged in a currency of care.” The items that formed gesture of trust were collected to convey a sense of care and hospitality to visitors of the exhibition. 

Curated by Pablo de Ocampo.


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Western Front is a non-profit
artist-run centre in Vancouver.

We acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as traditional owners of the land upon which Western Front stands.