CBC Saskatchewan Pop Up Downtown http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/pop-up-downtown-regina-2016-1.3767503 

Exhibition Review: Estevan Mercury 

Hi-Fibre Content Curatorial review: Estevan Mercury

Sask Lifestyles: Concepts of fibre art


Shapeshifting: The Unreliability of Memory and the Paranormal Event  

by Rebecca Young

"In a series of ongoing installation-based projects, Zoë Schneider relates her personal encounters with the ghosts and strange beasts she sees while travelling at night through the Alberta landscape. This landscape is indeed rife with ghost towns, wilderness and empty spaces, and these are the sites Schneider wishes to evoke in her art. 

Schneider's current body of work is driven by her investigations into memory and the paranormal. Focusing on the uncanny or unsettling qualities of her supernatural encounters, Schneider addresses the unreliability of memory and the distancing effect that time can have upon one's recollection of unusual events. In Schneider's first paranormal-themed installation, kitschy bronze birds don crocheted ponchos and glare malevolently out from under their little hoods. The birds are reflected in cloud shaped mirrors, which amplifies the strangeness of the installation. Her mingling of a stage-set aesthetic with altered found objects and craft-based pieces causes the objects to lose their original familiarity or domestic connotations. A dream-like atmosphere of the memory is presented, as elements collide with one another in peculiar ways. 

Schneider's most recent installation, titled Ghostwood, was lit with a pair of flashlights, evoking an illumination by car headlights. Black wooden shapes jut out from a cluster of painted fabric birch trees and cast sinister shadows upon the wall that are both unnerving and provide a sense of incompleteness of memory. When viewing Schneider's installations, one understands that it is a stand-in for the actual, unexplainable phenomenon that she was party to. 

Nearly everyone has a favorite ghost story they like to tell. These sorts of stories tend to shift and evolve over time, changing as they are passed from person to person or through generations. This story-telling aspect of Schneider's current work shares connections to her previous bodies of work that reference and make use of craft traditions as practices handed down through the ages. According to humanities theorist Esther Leslie, storytelling mirrors a mode of processing and re-constituting experience, suggesting how experiences might drift in and out of memory. Craft shares with storytelling this connection through its focus on shared knowledge and practice. Likewise, craft and storytelling are both skills that tend to be handed down through generations.  

No longer content to engage with the visual, Schneider is interested in creating installations that utilize multiple senses in order to achieve an unearthly effect. That creeping, spine tingling feeling is effectively achieved with a combination of visuals and atmospheric stimuli. 

There are no truly reliable scientific methods for recording or dissecting paranormal happenings; one is forced to rely upon sensory information and subjective memories. Whatever we believe about the paranormal, Schneider asks us to suspend preconceptions as we experience her eerie installations."