Edwin Isford

Impersonal Matter
On view July 15th ― August 5th, 2017

“The octopus is the only animal that has a portion of its brain (three
quarters, to be exact) located in its (eight) arms. Without a central
nervous system, every arm thinks with total autonomy, and yet, each
arm is part of the animal.”

— Chus Martinez, “The Octopus in Love”

“If all we are is matter, and if the matter of which we are made is
neither originated nor controlled by us—as persons or as a species—
then what sense can it make to speak of human beings as critical,
creative, or free?”

— Melissa A. Orlie, “Impersonal Matter”

In celebration of the primacy of material agency, “Impersonal Matter” is defiantly opposed to the
anthropocentrism that would privilege the subject over the object. The works occupying both interior and
exterior spaces steers a path between scientific naturalism and social relativism, drawing attention to
things at all scales. The exhibition puts things (rather than human beings) at the heart of studying what it
means to exist. The work asks of it’s audience, what is an object?

Responding to the idea of object-oriented ontology, the exhibition features works framed by their physical
properties of growth and process based transformation. Isford uses various materials such as rubber that
grows when it’s in contact with water, dried alginate sculptures that take their form from the location
where they’re poured and solidify into atrophied versions of themselves, and cyanotypes painted onto
found materials to conclude as a photogram. Each piece slips between biological and inorganic, blurring
the boundary between man-made vessels and nature. In doing so, Isford questions the hierarchy of objects
and subjects, while suggesting that we are one and the same with everything that surrounds us. Materiality
is considered as companion towards communicating a mutually inclusive message that expresses the
plurality of corporeal experience in all people and things.

Edwin Isford is an artist based in Montréal, Québec – located on traditional and unceded Kanien’keha:ka
territory – who was born in 1985 in Alberta, Canada to parents of primarily European and Scandinavian
heritages. Edwin’s studio practice favours a non-hierarchal approach to processes and materials where a
variety of forces and things can exist on equal terms, while research on new materialist feminism and
photography inform the creative process. He considers this practice as a way of understanding the
materiality, processes, and motivations that compose non-human and human matter alike both physically
and intangibly.