ABOVE: A scene from Cecile Clayton-Gouthro's work Connecting at an Unknown Rate at Gallery One One.
A solo exhibition of the work of Cecile Clayton-Gouthro entitledConnecting at an Unknown Rate happened at Gallery One One One12 March to 1 April 2000, curated by Cliff Eyland. Clayton-Gouthro is an artist, critic and professor of clothing and textiles at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. This multimediaexhibition addressed issues of fashion, apparel design history, self identity,and art. Clayton-Gouthro's show brought together dancers,musicians, and a videographer in a performance/installation using threefiber sculpture pieces. Allan Dellanoy was the videographer, Christina Medina was the choreographer and Jim Hiscott was the composer.
This exhibition articulated Clayton-Gouthro's vision both as a visual artist andcostume historian. Her use of shoulder pads was a witty reference to the"power woman" ideology of the 1980s and also to the the big-shouldered women of the 1940s who took on so-calledmen's work during World War II. Clayton-Gouthro had, so to speak,stitched the femininity back into the shoulder pads as she made them intoquilt-like garments. Interestingly, Clayton-Gouthro used both male andfemale dancers in her performance work, as if taking for granted a cross-genderedpoint of view.
Clayton-Gouthro's shoulder pad garments were hand sewn usinghundreds of pads sewn to conform to the shape of a body. While theindividual shoulder pads are essentially light weight, the constructed thegarment is very heavy. In order for the pieces to be worn each pad wasindividually hand sewn on both sides so that the drag of the weight wouldnot cause the pads to come apart during movement by the wearer.Opening night the performers entered the darkened gallery one at a time,each hauling a length of tulle fabric filled with loose multi-coloured andpatterned shoulder pads. First they moved as if alone and then together,all in time to cello music that was meant to act as a loose "vocal"counterpoint to the language of the performer's movements. The garments requirecontrolled movement and body-movement harmony in order for the pieceto work.
A prerecorded video -- many in the audience mistakenly thought that thevideo was live-action -- was simultaneously projected against the gallerywall, echoing the movements of the performers. The video bothforeshadowed and repeated the dancing. As the music played, theperformers created random images on the gallery floor with the pads;then they removed their shoulder pad garments and hung them onsupport stands.
After the performers disrobed and created the floor art, theyretrieved their pieces of tulle fabric and interwove themselves in tulle asthey left the gallery space. The shoulder pad garments remained on theirstands, the video projection continued to be played, and two monitorsplaced in the gallery's windows (which faced the School of Art's hallway)replayed the performance by means of tape loops for the duration of theexhibition.
Gallery One One One, School of Art, Main Floor, FitzGerald Building, University of Manitoba Fort Garry campus, Winnipeg, MB, CANADA R3T 2N2 TEL:204 474-9322 FAX:474-7605
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