Sigi TorinusVisual arts professor Sigi Torinus stands in the middle of one of the video displays in her exhibit "Into The Light." The exhibit will be on display at the Art Gallery of Windsor until June 15.

Art exhibit challenges attachment to 'big ideas'

In a world full of “isms,” it’s only natural to wonder if there’s a danger in becoming too attached to the ideals that drive our actions. But how simple is it for us to become distracted from the paradigms that seemingly define us? And as we go through life, how do we navigate our way through our own beliefs, and those of others, remaining grounded all the while?

These are just a few of the big questions Sigi Torinus hopes visitors will be inspired to think about as they meander through her latest exhibit at the Art Gallery of Windsor.

“I think you just need to spend some time and check in with yourself, and I’m kind of challenging the viewer to do that,” the visual arts professor says of Into the Light, an installation that relies heavily on video, photography and various objects to question our “big ideas.”

A centrepiece of the second floor exhibit consists of video segments randomly projected onto a massive corner wall. Shot over the last 10 years during several trips to Cuba, the video shows off-the-beaten path urban landscapes, focusing on images of where the word “Revolución” had been painted on walls. Other smaller frames of video of different images constantly move over the main frame.

“I wanted it to really feel like you’re in an urban space, walking around,” said Torinus. “The other videos that move across the screen represent the day-to-day distractions that make us forget about the big ideas that orient us. We all go by big ideas, but sometimes we get distracted from them by other things.”

Of German descent, Torinus grew up in the in Virgin Islands, where her father, a Volkswagen employee, had been sent to work. Her parents sent her to a public school instead of a private one, and she was the only white child in her class. Issues of class, culture, and the politics of the Caribbean that informed her childhood factor heavily into the exhibit.

The first wall the viewer sees when they enter consists of various photographs shot from her tropical childhood, as well as several clips of old Super 8 footage. Another wall consists of other video shown upside down, and some video that’s shown on tablets mounted in the seats of wooden chairs. One of those chairs hangs from the ceiling.

Another room consists of stools arranged in a circle, also with holes cut in the seats and video of sky scenes, water, fish, feathers and other images projected up through them. Images of navigational maps based on various scientific theories about how migratory animals find their way home are projected on the wall.

“I like to use animal metaphors in my work,” she said. “It’s really asking about how we navigate through space. People are looking for ways to navigate through life.”

That theme of navigation—whether it’s through ideals, cultural barriers, or space—is predominant throughout the exhibit. Curateor Srimoyee Mitra put a great deal of thought even in to how viewers navigate their way through it.

The exhibit continues at the gallery, 401 Riverside Drive West, through June 15. On May 24, from 2 to 5 p.m., Torinus will be at the exhibit, ‘reading’ how participants negotiate the space between home and far away, between being inside the body and out, and between what they are aspiring to and where they are in the present.