Andrea Cooper is a media artist with a masters in visual studies from the University of Toronto. Her work has been exhibited in galleries across Canada, including a solo exhibition, “Fickle As Poison,” at Grunt Gallery in Vancouver. She has also won the National Film Board of Canada’s Emerging Filmmaker/Video artist award, and has had projects such as Honey and Strange Things premier at the Berlin International Film Festival. She’s having a one-day pop-up sale of her work, this Saturday, at St. Michael’s Printshop.
Why the Pop-up selling off of all your work this Saturday?
I decided to set up a pop-up shop for a sale of my artwork (prints, photos, and paintings) because I don’t normally show my work commercially. It is sometimes every 3-5 years whereby I will present my artwork in a commercial context. For the past ten years I have been exhibiting video and photo installation based work. I have shown at the Berlin International Film Festival, Images Festival, V-Tape, Grunt Gallery, and Extra City in Antwerp, Belgium. When I moved back to St. John’s from Toronto two years ago, I realized that I had a lot of artwork sitting around from my past life. In fact, I found an entire portfolio of prints sitting in my parents garage that I long thought had kicked the bucket.
The body of work that I am selling spans from 1997 – 2010, with most of it dating to a very specific time in my art practice 1997 – 2002. My work has changed a lot since that time, and in a way, this is a symbolic way of letting go, and moving forward with very different bodies of work. I also feel like art should be appreciated and loved in a home. Art is way easier to take care of than a kitten or a puppy. You just have to find a place for it on your wall. If people like my work then hopefully they will own it. I have purposely kept the work affordable so that it is accessible.
Tell Us about Your Work
Much of this early work in my career – the photo collages, On Probation, Starring and Romance series, deals with the representation of women in the media, and the unattainable and unrealistic expectations of women to be glamorous, sexy and beautiful. I remember living here in my early twenties and thinking, “Who the hell can wear high heels in this town and not get blown away, or fall down a hill?” A lot of the work from this time also uses humour as an access point. The work is supposed to be funny. I’m poking fun of myself, to talk about the disparity about the place I lived, and what I was being fed from the TV in terms of expectations of how women should look and behave. In particular the Cold series, pokes fun at small places being lonely and boring. The Romance series is a little darker and maps the concept of desire – that which is both hopeful and tragic. In addition, I should mention that when making the work, I used myself as a fictional character, as an actor, to talk about larger concepts. Why did I use myself? Mostly because I was easy to direct, accessible and affordable as a model, and could pick up a camera and take pictures whenever I wanted. Some of the work is flattering and a lot of it is unflattering. That wasn’t the point. At the time it was also important that the only feelings I could hurt were my own, and it gave me a freedom to do as I pleased with the work.