Exhibition title: Like You
Artist: Justin Cooper
Exhibition dates: August 6 – September 20, 2008
Exhibition space: Philip J. Steele Gallery 

Like You, a collection of new work by Cooper, featured deadpan sculptural installations created from everyday objects such as garden hoses, binder clips, staples and Windex. Along with drawings and videos, these sculptures combined to create a smart, if not mischievous, commentary on the way we spend our time. Or, as Cooper puts it, “formalized hallucinations using everyday materials we’re all familiar with in ways that create a disconnect in our minds.” 

This disconnect – the mental gap between what your eyes see and what your brain comprehends – is one of Cooper’s primary interests. He acknowledges a strategy of taking the high brow and the low brow and flipping them around, layering the serious with the playful. The garden hose is a recurring motif in Cooper’s work, partly due to his attraction to the line form, and also because he finds comedic value in aestheticising tools that are themselves used for aestheticising.

Formal moments juxtaposed with unhinged madness; contained chaos. “Like locking a child in a Prius. You can quote me on that.” As far as his often frantic videos, he considers those to be studies of mental illness, in a way. Cooper says “We’re all capable of losing our sh*t, because we’re all animals. And that’s frightening, so a great deal of the human experience involves trying to shut that out. I like to explore those different states.”

This examination of the indefinable space between the conscious and subconscious could be seen throughout the multimedia components of Like You. Cooper revealed that there exists a fluid dialogue between his performance, drawings and installation; they influence and reference each other, and it’s hard for him to pinpoint where one stops and another starts. 

Influenced by minimalism and post-minimalism, Cooper has a self-described “post-post-minimalism thing going on.” He embraces the idea of “simple” and enjoys creating aggregations of simple forms, just like the totemic sculptures he constructed for the East Gallery. 

Work shown courtesy of Monique Meloche Gallery and the artist.

Photography: Sara Ford

Link to Justin’s website at the bottom