Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Loop's Summer Correspondent Sarah Letovsky visits O'Born Contemporary

 Edith Maybin, The Girl Document, Untitled # 1, Chromogenic Print, 90 x 60 inches, 2013; gallery documentation. 
(Photo courtesy of O'Born Contemporary.)

Edith Maybin at O’Born Contemporary

Sarah Letovsky

Do you remember what it feels like to be an adolescent? That painful state of burgeoning sexuality, lingering childhood, chipped nail polish, and embarrassing sex ed classes? I remember it vividly, and so does Edith Maybin. I had the good fortune to catch her exhibition at O’Born Contemporary, “The Girl Document,” just before it closed on June 8th.

O’Born Contemporary is located at 131 Ossington, right next to Crafted coffee and across from Bellwoods Brewery, a ten minute walk from loop. It’s a great place to pop by for a dose of contemporary art in between coffee runs and vintage shopping.

“The Girl Document” is a series of large photographic prints, or “documents” as Maybin labels them, concerned with that specific time in a girl’s life where she suddenly becomes caught between binaries of childhood and adulthood. We see snapshots of an adolescent face, a piece of birthday cake, mirrors, and star-shaped glitter.

Edith Maybin, The Girl Document, Untitled #2, Chromogenic Print, 2013. 
(Photo courtesy of the artist.)
Upon deeper investigation, this imagery has a saccharine sweet quality of excess and a threatening undertone; the swirling saturated colours, the hints of broken glass, pieces of fur, blood. It’s an unsettling fracturing of childhood and of identity. Despite moments of overt representational symbolism in Maybin’s still life arrangements, “The Girl Document” is still very much defined by its particular formal and technical framework which, curiously, is rooted in abstraction and distortion.

O’Born's Associate Director, Rachel Anne Farquharson, spoke to me about Maybin’s process, which is done  in-camera, by wrapping a piece of silver mylar around the lens. This reflective silver bends the light, effectively creating a swirling portal around the edge of the photo. It’s a visual manifestation of the lens itself, a voyeuristic snapshot of puberty from the outsider's perspective of a mother, watching her child experience the pain and confusion of growing up.

"The Girl Document" proves to be a collection of work that is at once celebratory and also threatening and fearful - a deeply self-conscious examination of the relationship between mother and daughter.

Maybin's work can be seen on the O’Born Contemporary website at or on the artist’s site at O'Born Contemporary’s next major exhibition is “Backscatter”, a series of work by Kate McQuillen. The opening reception is friday june 21st from 6-9, and runs until july 27th. Don't miss it!

(All images courtesy of O'Born Contemporary)