Alex Tedlie-Stursberg and Callum Monteith
Curated by Andrea Valentine-Lewis
Deluge Contemporary Art, Victoria BC
September 11 – October 10, 2020
Link to exhibition essay.
The title for this exhibition is taken from the Greek term, Ou-topos;Ou (not) and Topos (a place). The term Utopos holds two other meanings: the first being “the good place” and the second “the place that cannot be.” In the Talking Heads song “Nothing but Flowers,” David Byrne’s lyrics follow a similar path by embodying this shared meaning of Utopos, where yes, the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence, but, upon reflection, neither greens—nor grass for that matter—are all they were cracked up to be. Be careful what you wish for. You might get it and regret it.
The notion of a Utopia, a perfect community or civilization designed for perfection and autonomy can only, in essence, exist in the imagination or conceptually. It is by humankind’s very existence that renders the reality of this endeavour impossible. Yet, it is a concept that is constantly strived for, as is evident within the current socio-political climate, and with trends of populism, nationalism and retrenchment. The paradox is that while striving for this idealistic model of a Utopia, humans actually move closer to that of the antonym of this condition in Dystopia—a community or society that is undesirable or frightening.
There was a factory
Now there are mountains and rivers
You got it, you got it.
There was a shopping mall
Now it’s all covered with flowers
You’ve got it, you’ve got it.
If this is paradise I wish I had a lawnmower
For this exhibition, Callum Monteith and Alex Tedlie-Stursberg presented a new body of work that considers the contradictory nature of the term Utopos. Through the development of their shared research interests including the relationship between humans and nature, explorations into artificiality, manicuring of environments and abstracted or absurd artistic gestures, Monteith and Stursberg challenge the conditions of Utopia. Their research has advanced through an open and wide-ranging dialogue between the artists that looks to many topics for inspiration, including pop-culture, sociological/philosophical studies, art history and fictional narratives.
Callum Monteith (b. 1988) lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland, where he works in painting, photography and printmaking. Monteith’s practice interweaves notions of nature, philosophy and aesthetics with a particular interest in how we construct our ideas of self through fictions of alternative places or imagined landscapes. Recent exhibitions include solo exhibitions Shelf Show #3 at Cockburn Street, Edinburgh, PARADISAL at The Briggait, Glasgow and PLANT ROOM, a group exhibition at Hanson Street Project Space, also in Glasgow (2019).
Alex Tedlie-Stursberg (b.1980) lives and works in Vancouver, BC, where he is a multidisciplinary artist with a key focus on sculpture and installation. His work has been exhibited in numerous galleries across North America and Europe; recent exhibitions include Sous La Plage / Les Pavés at Trapp Projects, Vancouver (2021), MASS RESIDUE with Field Contemporary and SUPER, NATURAL, a group exhibition at Unit 17, Vancouver (2019), Holy Wave as part of Glasgow International, Scotland and Everything Flows with Burrard Art Foundation, Vancouver (2018). Stursberg is currently employed as a Sessional Instructor at Langara College Visual Arts Program. He is currently developing public artworks for Ballard Fine Art in Vancouver.