“Constellation” by Rosamunde Bordo. (photo by Sol Hashemi)
Every true artist at the start of their career undergoes a period of intense search: for their voices, for their themes, for their artistic expressions. Rosamunde Bordo is at that exciting stage now. She is searching. Her show at the Zack Gallery, Morning Star, reflects her creative explorations.
A professional artist today, Bordo has always loved art.
“As a child, I went to a school with a strong art program. I painted. I played saxophone. My parents always encouraged my interest in art,” she said in an interview with the Independent.
After a bachelor’s in liberal arts and print media at Concordia University in Montreal (2014) and master of fine arts degree in visual art at the University of British Columbia (2020), Bordo teaches printmaking at UBC. But her artistic interests range much wider than printmaking. Her newly emerging passions include the creation of installations and woodworking.
“I started woodworking last spring,” she said. “In this show, I use different woods: maple, cherry, walnut. I’m fascinated by the process of turning wood into sculptures. In a way, woodworking is similar to printmaking. Both use technology but, unlike two-dimensional printmaking, woodworking offers three dimensions. In woodworking, I try to find the story of the material, try to immerse in material-based research to investigate the self as a created subject.”
Bordo began woodworking when she started her ongoing installation project, The Denise File.
“It is almost a work of detective fiction, written through physical space,” she explained. Using found postcards written to someone named Denise, Bordo “wanted to reconstruct who the elusive Denise is, to figure out what the letters meant, to show her essence through objects, sculptures and drawings.”
She built some wooden furniture for The Denise File – a screen and a chair – and wanted to do more, to explore all she could do with wood. Her current show, comprised mostly of several sculptures, has its roots in a Jewish magic class she took at her synagogue in 2021.
“I wanted to understand Jewish history, its mysticism and its superstitions,” she said.
Each figure on the gallery wall could have originated from the ancient writings of many nations.
“It could be ancient Hebrew or Aramaic or even Greek,” Bordo mused. “All the cultures in that region were interconnected. I see the entire show as a healing amulet, but I didn’t want to assign my own meanings to the individual figures. I wanted them to be mysteries for my viewers to investigate. I wanted the viewers to be detectives and I didn’t want to influence them with my personal vision, didn’t want to limit their imagination.”
That’s why she titled every “Constellation” figure with a number. “They could be stick figures – they are very simple – but I see them as constellations, stars connected to each other,” she said. “That’s why the show is called Morning Star. The world is a difficult place right now, and the morning star is a symbol of renewal.”
Bordo’s constellations are deceptive, looking a bit like wooden hieroglyphs, or perhaps molecular structures, each with its own character.
“The one with a leg sticking out of the wall – it wanted to be playful, maybe escape from the wall,” she said. “I was looking for harmony when I worked on them, but I didn’t want to force them into locked shapes. I wanted to give them their own personalities. Besides, I try to respect the wood I work with. It is alive. There are many ways one could interpret a wooden sculpture.”
In addition to the constellations on the gallery walls, there is also a video called Potion, which comprises four minutes of rotating green abstract patterns. Postcards with a single image from the video form another part of the installation. The text on the back of the postcards reveals the artist’s motto for this show: “Ideas are to objects as constellations are to stars.”
There is also a small table with a slab of pink salt on it.
“Placing salt in your pockets and in the corners of rooms was a well-known Jewish superstition to ward off malevolent spirits,” Bordo said. The table with the salt stands in the corner of the gallery, hopefully repulsing malice. We all need that in our troubled times, she explained.
The show opened Jan. 5 and will be on display until Feb. 7. To learn more, go to the artist’s website, withoutimages.com.
Olga Livshin is a Vancouver freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].