By Nick Laugher, Staff Contributor
Morbid clouds of erosion—splits and cracks in the foundation of human existence— appear steeped in a mentality that mourns the slowly dying monuments of our surreal, synthetic world. Colin Lyons’ exhibition Industrial Monuments is a brilliant microcosm for the utter frailty of our constructed lives.
Crafted out of zinc and copper, Lyons’ work consists of tiny, terrifyingly realistic replicas of dilapidated industrial buildings, reflecting our own confused relationship with technology with stunning poignancy. Lyons, who received his bachelor of fine arts from Mount Allison University and is currently pursuing a masters in printmaking at the University of Alberta, traverses the murky shadows of obsolescence with miniature models of nautical and industrial Atlantic Canada.
Complex pieces such as the zinc plate “Shewing Cork Works” display an unprecedented attention to detail: the tiny building exhaling a sombre, almost macabre, air as it glares in contempt at the world that has left it behind. Utilizing the haunting desolation of the abandoned Atlantic, Lyons’ pieces possess an unsettling prescience. Witty and sharp enough to draw blood, they are self-contained vessels by which we can explore the crippling experiences of solitary, sinking hearts. Pieces like “Canada Maltage” possess a surreal and formidable voice, bouncing from wall to wall, begging to be heard.
Pieces like “Dow Brewery” and “New City Gas Co.,” consisting solely of paper and ink, are true testaments to Lyons’ dedication to the beauties of truth and despair. Clearly crippled, the foundations shimmer, delicately balanced between decay and creation. The ink and paper sculptures capture the essence of temporality, encapsulated in their tiny broken windows.
The real genius of Lyons’ pieces is quietly tucked away behind those tiny doors and windows, lying dormant in the pre-dawn light. After this exposition of his work, Lyons’ pieces will become performance pieces: dying and decaying bit by bit like the forgotten edifices they so delicately mirror. While some will wither slowly and silently, others will be forced quickly into dilapidated obscurity by chemical baths. As the tiny creations begin to evoke, far too realistically, the future of our filtered, pasteurized and processed society, their tiny windows allow us a beautiful view of our misdeeds and lack of attention spans.
Lyons’ work is a wake up call for a world content to sleep away the days—literally and figuratively—while the true triumphs of our civilization crumble into obscurity, become obsolete, or simply fail to hold our attention.
If you’d like to get in line to wave goodbye and eulogize the past in the form of truthful tiny buildings, Colin Lyons’ exhibition Industrial Monuments runs until Nov. 19 at Gallery Page and Strange.