originally commissioned by L.L.O. Sculpture Garden Foundation.
Millie Chen and Warren Quigley’s Greenroom consists of a group of sculptures cast from actual furniture and painted in the “Field Guide to Naturalizing Greens” palette. This colour system (which was invented by the artists) mimics the act of introducing a foreign plant, animal, or person to a new environment where it must adapt to the local conditions. In this way, Greenroom also acts literally: the curators are introducing a duo of Toronto artists’ to the Kingston ‘art scene’ in the hopes of creating an exchange between the two cultural landscapes. When Greenroom was exhibited in the Toronto Sculpture Garden, it played a functional role: weary visitors to the Garden could rest on the couch, wedding parties would pose in the dark with the lamp on, and children would use the coffee table as a climbing gym. Here in Kingston, it is more of a decorative, albeit lonely, curio: revitalizing an otherwise empty construction site, and setting an inviting, yet impenetrable scene for the possibility of future domestic comfort. Greenroom is acting like the greenroom backstage at a theatre for the condominium development that will eventually be the star of Bagot and Queen Street.
The ‘naturalizing’ palette of Greenroom also refers to the attempt at making something more ‘lifelike’, or trying to capture something ‘natural’. But Greenroom is wholly theatrical – a temporary out-of-the-ordinary artistic spectacle in the centre of our developing and redeveloping urban landscape. It is also frustratingly subtle – distanced from us by a chain-link fence that both protects the work, and isolates us from interacting with it fully. Greenroom embodies our aspirations for prized furnishings, and designer spaces but, as a public artwork, it also challenges us to consider our constructed environment in a way that juxtaposes it with the private spaces of our own living rooms.
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