Curated by Celina Jeffery

Dec. 9th, 2011 to Feb. 17th, 2012, Ottawa, Ontario
The Museum of Nature (produced and presented by): 9th Dec., 2011 to 12th Feb., 2012
Marie-Jeanne Musiol, Mariele Neudecker, Anne Katrine Senstad, Sarah Walko and Andrew Wright

St. Brigid’s Centre for the Arts:
Adrian Göllner, 10th-17th Dec., 2011
Avantika Bawa, 7th-19th Jan., 2012
Anne Katrine Senstad, 29th Jan. – 17th Feb. 2012

Patrick Mikhail Gallery:
Shin Il Kim, 4th Jan. – 7th Feb., 2012

Preternatural was an exhibition of contemporary art that explored the themes of nature, wonder and the extraordinary.  The exhibition featured both Ottawa/Hull based and international artists who employed a variety of media including photography, video and sculpture.

There was both reverence and enchantment in Mariele Neudecker’s (UK/Germany) tank vitrines which captured, inverted and re-made nature. Andrew Wright’s (Ottawa, Canada) photographic installation of an inverted Arctic scene at night conjured disorientation, bewilderment and curiosity. Marie-Jeanne Musiol (Hull, Canada) used electromagnetic photography to create an energy herbaria, in which plants revealed a luminous structure with information contained in their light fields. Sarah Walko’s (USA) It is least what one ever sees, was a highly intricate installation that comprised of many hundreds of tiny, disparate sculptural and live objects that sought to create an alternative, uncanny natural world. In The Sugarcane Labyrinth, a video by Anne Katrine Senstad (Norway), we encountered the making of a labyrinth on a farm in Theriot, Louisiana, USA, which engaged with local farming strategies in an act of sustainability, recovery and rejuvenation of this vulnerable coastline.

At St. Brigid’s, a deconsecrated church in Lowertown, Ottawa, three international artists created site-specific installations. In Adrian Göllner’s (Ottawa, Canada) intervention, puffs of white smoke appeared in time with Handel’s Messiah from the ornate vaulted ceiling, gesturing at an ethereal presence. Avantika Bawa (India/USA) sought to subvert, tease and create a play of artifice in an otherwise unique and extraordinary place with her interventions that involved the placement of yellow plastic wrapping along the pews, a yellow ramp on the altar and the playing of the musical key of ‘e’ from a ‘boom box’. Anne Katrine Senstad (Norway) further investigated the tradition of mystical melody with The Kinesthesia of Saint Brigid, a video projection which framed the organ at the rear of the church with an intensely colourful effect. Lastly, Shin Il Kim’s (Korea/USA) animated video projections and drawings at the Patrick Mikhail Gallery bridged the spectral inquiries at St. Brigid’s and the subversions of the natural world at the Museum of Nature exhibit. Kim’s white figures were so soft and indistinct that they also seemed to float in front of the viewer like apparitions, poised for interaction, but suspended in an unknown, ethereal state.

Comprising of three exhibitions at venues across Ottawa: the Museum of Nature, St. Brigid’s Centre for the Arts and the Patrick Mikhail Gallery, Preternatural sought to explore the boundaries of the natural and the liminal space where the natural and unnatural collide.

The exhibitions was accompanied by a catalogue published by punctum. The catalogue features the essay Beyond Nature by Celina Jeffery and another by Levi R. Bryant called Wilderness Ontology.