Written by: Megan Wedge
Edited by: Jasmine Huang
“Big Beige Eyes” @221A Artist Run Centre, November 07, 2014- December 04, 2014
Kalli Niedoba successfully presents her solo exhibition BIG BEIGE EYES, at local artist run centre 221A. Kalli Niedoba graduated from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2012 and strongly continues to establish herself as a new and upcoming artist within Vancouver’s diverse art community. This particular installation at 221A highlights Niedoba’s current interests in business systems and the type of discourse surrounding them. With the help of Executive Curator Brian Mcbay, Niedoba has installed a surreal representation of her perspective of an all too quaint LA Citibank.
Upon arrival at 221A, I found myself immediately drawn to the peachy warm hue of the gallery space. All of the components of the installation reflected this pseudo-90’s doctor’s office replica. Directly in front of me in the majority of the space was a massive obstruction of space shaped as a giant T. As I meandered around this obstacle I realized its placement forced me to walk closer and closer to the wall: pushing me against the wall as I squeezed by the last portion of the T. Along my way around the structure I came face-to-face with a goofy hand-drawn pop up statue. It seemed Niedoba had taken a stick figure drawing of a human and blown it up to life-size then place it on a cardboard pop up. Quite quaint. As I continued in the space I noticed the height of the T was very awkward, reaching just above your chin or below your nose depending on how tall you are, obstructing verbal communication between people at either end of it. As I guided myself around the rear of the T I couldn’t help but notice the awkward height of another object. There, hung fabric woven blinds, the type that make that plastic crackling sound when a breeze pushes them together. Similarly to the T in the center of the room, the bottom of the blinds hit around the same place on the body, just below the nose or above the chin. Back near the front of the room there was another set of blinds exactly the same peachy tone as the first, hung in the doorway where you would normally walk. Then beside this second set of blinds was a stationary, wall-mounted, cream colored phone. At closer investigation I realized there was a voice speaking from this wall-mounted phone, therefore, I picked it up and had a listen. On the other end of the line there was a comical recording of a woman advertising the allure of a trip to the Bahamas. This made me laugh, as it reminded me of the type of automated phone call that I get in the middle of dinner telling me I have won a trip to Florida!
Back at the front doors of 221A sitting on the floor, was an abstracted broken framework. This piece is very similar to a framework used in Niedoba’s work at Sunset Terrace in March, 2014. Larger than an average 24’’x36’’ frame size, this piece took up the main floor space at the entryway of the gallery. At second glance, I realized there was a shimmer coat painted on top of the white cream coat giving it a very reflective characteristic. As a whole the installation practically filled the entire interior space of 221A with little room to spare, making the viewer feel cramped and uncomfortable.
After reviewing the objects and their placement within the space, I began to decipher their established meaning. The large T in the center of the room could represent office desks, where important discussions and interactions happen between client and representative as they sit across from each other. In this case, the desk is so high that you wouldn’t even be able to see the verbal words spoken out of each other’s mouth at either end of the desk. Furthermore, you may not even be able to hear each other across the desk as the distance of the T extends almost from one end of the room to the other. This visually represents the metaphorical blockage in communication between business and client. As for the life-size stick drawing, this could be a representation of the greeter of a business establishment that stands in one single place all day repeating the words, “welcome, thank you, good morning, good afternoon, have a wonderful day.” These types of employees are hired a particular establishments to lighten the mood and even add a touch of joy into everybody’s day. With that being said, it’s surreal structure makes for a very uncomfortable presence. I appreciated the addition of two sets of dated blinds as they constructed an all-too-familiar corporate space for the average viewer. These blinds are often present in corporate common office spaces. In continuation the verbal recording of the woman speaking of the Bahamas was all too funny as she didn’t even know the correct pronunciation for the word Bahamas of what she was advertising. This relates to the total faceless and in-human aspects of corporate establishments. Frequently, I run into representatives at certain businesses that can’t even explain the extent of their position or the products they are selling. Lastly, the broken frame work at the entrance of the gallery is a clear visual representation of the broken framework of many corporate structures today. Although the artwork can be recognized as a frame it certainly cannot function as one.
The construction and installation of Niedoba’s work accurately suggests a broken dialogue between the average citizen and their corporate ties. In this representation of LA’s Citibank Niedoba stresses the bank’s need for comfort signifiers, for example the peachy beige. It also highlights their lack of personal contact and communication. Although Kalli Niedoba is an emerging artist within Vancouver’s art community, she clearly has the talent to flourish as a visual artists for years to come.
“Kalli Niedoba: Big Beige Eyes – Artsy Dartsy.” Kalli Niedoba: Big Beige Eyes – Artsy Dartsy. Edison and Sprinkles, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2014. <http://www.artsy-dartsy.com/events/4151-kalli-niedoba-big-beige-eyes>.
“Brian McBay.” 221A. 221A Authors and Publishers, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2014. <http://221a.ca/contributors/brian-mcbay>.
“KALLI NIEDOBA.” : Photo. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2014. <http://kalliniedoba.tumblr.com/image/81533142818>.