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By Cassandra d’Amico-Mazza
The Power Plant is a leader in the Contemporary art scene in Canada. It is the home of seminal works, diverse programming, and exhibitions by both Canadian and international artists. Its newest exhibition entitled Ears To Speak Of, on now through December 31st 2017, is a solo exhibit by Argentinian artist Amalia Pica. Pica’s current collection and past works often considers issues of language and communication, commenting on the way in which we communicate verbally and non-verbally, and the power dynamics in conversation.
Pica’s work is twofold, with installations of acoustic radars, also known as “listening ears”. These “ears” are replicas of the real devices found in Denge, Kent in the UK, but made of cardboard. Built along the coast of England to detect incoming aircrafts, these radars were quickly outdated due to the rapid evolution of aircraft and radar technologies, but the structures still stand, showing signs slow decay through the years. Since The Power Plant is located on Toronto’s Harbourfront and is in close proximity to Billy Bishop Airport, Pica remade these “ears” out of cardboard and are able to pick up the sounds of planes taking off and landing.
The materiality of the piece is important. By rendering these outdated technologies in cardboard, a material which absorbs sound, Pica highlights the uselessness and ephemeral quality of the structures. Also on display are Pica’s large-scale hearing aid sculptures made out of soapstone, granite, and marble, and bring to life the ways in which people listen. By rendering these sculptures life-size and non-functioning Pica highlights the ways in which people try to communicate and the ways in which we try to listen to each other.