Snake 1, Snake 2, Snake 4, 2016
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
The temporary state of the world as we perceive it holds a central position in the deliberations of Elaine Cameron-Weir. While giving concrete form to her thoughts, her sculptures and installations nevertheless elude any didactic or heuristic function; rather, they are presented as suggestions with variable purposes.
The principle of metamorphosis is the key component of the three serpentine sculptures Snake 1, Snake 2 and Snake 4. These tall, enamelled-copper structures are made up of modular segments arranged so as to resemble the scales of a snakeskin. The delicate steel clips holding them together suggest manual labour as well as the possibility of a decomposition that can create another morphology. However, the obvious snake reference is not insignificant. This animal is known for its ability to shed its skin, and for its symbolic, as well as mythological, legacy with respect to its changes and cyclical transformations.
The three Snakes also invoke the notion of symmetry. Suspended by a system of pulleys, they are held in balance by sandbag counterweights. The visibility of this hanging system hints at some operation that may be performed, altering the way they are displayed in the space. The provisional aspect of what is perceived is underscored, while the viewer is confronted with the juxtaposition of elements that are strictly utilitarian with others that carry a more symbolic meaning. Both the snake and the pulley also link up with the idea of movement and circularity. The contrast between the industrial vocabulary of the hanging system and the more figurative one of the snakeskins consequently fluctuates as well.