Enter into a visual arts professor’s world


Above: Detail from Professor Jon Baturin’s installation work, entitled Doukhobour Communal Bath: Age 5 – an image generated from a self-portrait 

York visual arts Professor Jon Baturin, Faculty of Fine Arts, is co-coordinator, as well as one of five Canadian artists on show, in the tour of Points of Entry, a major three-country new-media exhibition which opened in New Zealand in February 2003 and is currently on view in Tasmania. York visual arts alumna Simone Jones also represents Canada in the project.

Points of Entry will tour Australia over the next few months. Plans are in progress to bring the project to Canada in 2004/2005.

Baturin’s contribution to the exhibition is an installation work titled Doukhobour Communal Bath: Age 5. He describes his piece as follows:

“A suspended environment. Wood/canvas armature; 27 pulleys; stage cord; and 34 precariously suspended mural panels – some of which might collapse. In the midst, a child’s teddy-bear gazing out wistfully.

“In Doukhobour Communal Bath, we are discomfited by a child’s chaos as he confronts images of his mother’s death, conflated with imagery of the warm flesh of the bathhouse. It is a place to experience the confusion of this child’s grossly distorted understanding of death and of his own apparent culpability. He was five. His mother was dying – had died of cancer. Weeks previous she’d been released from hospital. She was whole (he thought). He was happy. He did a stupid kid thing, overflowed the bathtub. She shouted: ‘…killing me…!’ Instantly (two weeks later) she was dead.

“Grieving time with our Doukhobour family. Ritual song and prayer. Hugs and whispers. Warm laps. The bathhouse: a place for resolution for his father and a place to share him. The family saw something was wrong. He sat too quiet. Saw boy flesh. Girl flesh. Bellies and thighs. Whisperings: from the living; whispers from the dead. His father did not know. I did not tell him then.”

Baturin has collaborated with visual artists, social activists, poets, novelists, actors and musicians from North America, England, China, Australia, Brazil and the Caribbean in his photo-based and digital work. Recent projects have been exhibited internationally in major galleries and art museums including Liminal Body at the Australian Centre for Photography for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and Digitized Bodies, Virtual Spectacle at the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art (Budapest, Hungary) and Mestna Galerjia (Lubjiana, Slovenia). New work is in development for This Mortal Coil at the Art Gallery of Stratford later this year.

Aiming to reflect the notion that “peripheries are essential to reinforce the centre,” Points of Entry includes installations and embodied electronic, sculptural and reactive works/online streaming and public forums involving Australian, Canadian and New Zealand artists, curators and educators.

The exhibition is supported by Canadian, Australian and New Zealand cultural and funding organizations. In Canada, support is provided by the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Arts and Cultural Industries).