Wylie: Reimer’s take on Dysfunctional Chairs

Series of Dysfunction Chairs continues at Kelowna Art Gallery.

Jasmine Reimer’s interpretation for the Kelowna Art Galleries on-going series

The Kelowna Art Gallery’s series of temporary, changing installations of contemporary art along the theme of a dysfunctional chair is now in its sixth incarnation.

Vancouver-based artist Jasmine Reimer saw our website two years ago and was compelled to create some works exploring the notion of the uncomfortable office chair.

Her day job at that time was at an ergonomic chair store and she had been musing, Douglas Coupland-style, on the sociological and cultural meta-narratives of the overweight office worker and his/her physical ailments. Which came first, the obese body and sedentary lifestyle, or the hard and punishing chairs that seem designed to injure us?

Reimer’s practice was and still is centred around producing soft sculptural works, using fabric a great deal of the time. She combined this penchant with some scavenged and purchased chair parts and other hardware to make the four works currently on view in the Kelowna Art Gallery’s Rotary Courtyard space.

Recumbent and bulging forms droop listlessly as they protrude from or over pieces of chairs. These elements look like fancy, wheeled animal traps.

Although they appear lightweight, Reimer’s pleasantly plump shapes were made by packing pounds and pounds of dense sand into her sewn fabric cases. This made for a waterproof medium, important in this case, as the Rotary Courtyard space is exposed to the elements.

Viewers are free to make up their own minds about the social issues being presented by the imagery in this work. Reimer is not proselytizing and does not stand in judgment over either chair designers or office workers. She does seem to be wondering in an open-ended kind of way, however, about the cultural values of the work-a-day world, whether under the capitalist economic system or another. Something of her reverie is reflected in the zany, improbable look to her pieces.

Her installation’s title, 1000 lbs, 3 Days, refers to her back-breaking process of creating the works here, on site, back in December’s frosty temperatures.

The Dysfunctional Chairs series has given the Kelowna Art Gallery the opportunity to work with artists interested in producing work a little removed from their general practices.

Each show runs for six months, and is accompanied by a black-and-white folder-style catalogue which is free to the public.

The series helps us further fulfill our mandate of promoting and supporting the work of contemporary Canadian artists. Come and take a look sometime if we get another snowy day, when Reimer’s works look a bit like frozen cartoons.

The show runs until June 12, so there will be ample time for a warm-weather visit as well.

Liz Wylie is the Kelowna Art Gallery curator.