September 12 - October 12, 2019
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 12, 6:00–9:00pm - Artist talk at 6:45
About the Exhibition
Coldstream Fine Art is pleased to present Last Call, a new series of analog black-and-white photography from Toronto-based artist Mike Morris and his second exhibition with the gallery. Drawing from years of imagery taken almost exclusively after nightfall, Morris invites us to behold the rancour of bars and the patrons that turn them into animated, evolving spaces. Palpable here is the tension between the documentary and the experiential; the photographs are not simply indexical, but rather depict complex and fungible networks of events and relationships, with Morris as the invisible fulcrum. Meanwhile, we the viewers are given the tools and the opportunity to animate them, inserting ourselves into the breathing patchwork.
The scenes are at once elevated and accessible, enshrining pedestrian occurrences in the permanence and statuesque dignity of photography while encouraging the viewers to draw from their own past experiences in order to pierce through the opacity of ambiguous narratives—almost as if reconstructing the sequence of the prior night after a particularly drunken romp. It is up to the viewer to determine what events may have preceded or followed those in the photographs, or what may have occurred in the lives of the regulars from night to night. Meanwhile, the gamut of human emotion, magnified by the effects of alcohol, is on full display, seen in bursts of laughter, acts of violence and moments of tenderness, occasionally all at the same time.
In addition to the photographs themselves, the layout of the exhibition encourages interpretation and speculation on the part of the viewer as well. A large, irregular cluster of diminutive photographs, pieced together like bits of gossip, implies the narrative of a night at the bar; the fleeting gestures and poses are frozen in place, thus encouraging a reading deeper than any experience of a night out would allow. Another sequence depicts a regular visitor to the bar, subtextually outlining the familiarity that develops between him and Morris—to the point where it is unclear whether he is caught candidly or, sensing the opportunity, falls into a prefigured pose. These unclear distinctions abound in this series and, above all, encapsulate the often overlooked humanity and vulnerability of going to the bar, where we go not only to escape the rigours and codes of quotidian working life, but also to develop a world in parallel, even if it is one that often falls out of memory.