Miles Greenberg’s immersive world exposed in Toronto17/09/2021 - 18/12/2021
Through December 18, 2021, Arsenal Contemporary Art (Toronto) presents the work of the Montreal-born artist Miles Greenberg. Both performer and researcher, the artist’s work consists of large-scale, sensorially-immersive and often site-specific environments which revolve around the physical body in space. These installations are activated with durational performances, treating the body as a sculptural material.
In the fall of 2020, Greenberg staged an elaborate live installation titled Late October, which was inhabited by seven performers, including himself, for seven consecutive hours at Galleria Continua Les Moulins, an hour east of Paris. Perched atop rotating plinths and blinded by white contact lenses, the nude lacquered bodies of the performers revolved slowly above an ice blue basin. Greenberg cut footage from the live performance into a twenty-six-minute film which sees its world premiere at Arsenal Contemporary. On Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021 the work will travel westbound to be presented on the large public screens of Shibuya in Tokyo, Coex K-Pop Square in Seoul and Piccadilly Circus in London as part Circa x Dazed Class of 2021 filmmakers.
The set of the performance in France has been adapted by the artist for Arsenal’s Toronto location. The pool becomes the arena for three large-scale sculptures, the first ones ever produced by the artist. These works – the fruit of months of experimentation and labour – originate from 3D scans of the artist’s body in movement. Greenberg disabled certain settings in the scanner’s software, debilitating its spatial awareness and self-corrective capabilities. Due to these modifications, there was an extremely long buffer time on the data and therefore each scan had to be done blindly and in a single shot. This phase of production mirrors the happenstance of performance. Milled to scale and painted in a lustrous, deep indigo, the distorted figures acquire an eerie, mesmerizing presence over the pearly lagoon. They unfurl over the water like strange shells. The way the figures’ arms unfold outward into a fan is reminiscent of a flapping wing, or the imperceptible diurnal movement of petals.
Each sculpture is titled after young figures of cautionary tales from Greek mythology who suffer calamity due to human fallibility: Icarus, Narcissus and Orpheus. Greenberg also reimagines material disintegration echoing the erosion of ancient artefacts over time by utilizing digital tools. While the movement of dissolution is certainly cardinal to understand this body of work, Late October is also an opportunity to consider the coherence and fluency of Greenberg’s generative practice. The sculptures themselves are works in progress, milled from a high-density material that could eventually be moulded and cast in bronze as positives. Therefore, they exist as steps towards what is to become of the artist’s material and sculptural exploration. This fluid methodology, at the threshold of performance and sculpture, remains humbly hopeful.