Ariel Smith: Little girl/ugly girl/not bad/just evil girl

FAG Satellite @ Access Gallery

Little girl/ugly girl/not bad/just evil girl/ Ariel Smith / September 25 – 29

Reception (Artist in attendance): Friday September 28th, 7-10pm

Ottawa-based artist Ariel Smith offers a selection of video-based installations, all of which examine concepts of feminine monstrosity and the abject. Smith employs aesthetic strategies reminiscent of horror genre and symbolic representations of archetypical girlhood to explore and subvert such themes as demonic possession at the onset of menses, vagina dentata as self-defense, loss of innocence and the often-terrifying reality of growing up female.

Little girl/ugly girl/not bad/just evil girl is the third in a series of installations by emerging Feminist artists in conjunction with the FAG Satellite @ Access.

Ariel Smith (1983) is a Canadian filmmaker, video artist and cultural worker based in Ottawa Ontario. Having created independent media art for the past decade, many of her works have shown at festivals and galleries across Canada and internationally. She is largely self-taught, but honed many of her skills by becoming heavily involved in artist-run centers and film and video cooperatives in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.  Her passion for artist-run culture has become an integral part of her practice. She has been employed at SAW Video Media Arts Centre as Technical Coordinator since 2006, and currently sits on the board of directors for the Independent Media Arts Alliance (IMAA), the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition (NIMAC) and the Media Arts Network Ontario (MANO).

Her experience as a girl, and as a survivor of abuse and exploitation is at the root of her practice, and has influenced how she sees most everything in the world—men, women, relationships, economics, race, class, social hierarchies, feminism, the law.  Ariel’s experience with difference and marginalization forms the basis for much of her film and video work.

Ariel is interested in the political and social forces that affect the lives of girls and women and investigates these themes in her work. In particular, her work depicts the crossing of personal boundaries, into situations of transgression and abuse.

As an artist Ariel is compelled to use both surrealist and expressionist aesthetic strategies as well as the recalling  of classic horror genre to explore the often-terrifying reality of growing up female.  These are the things that scare her the most; these are the things that really do go bump in the night.  Her work is darkly humorous, disturbing, visceral and unapologetically feminist.  Signifiers of innocence and archetypical girlhood are contrasted and warped by dark, ominous settings and aesthetics.  Symbolic representations of longing, inadequacy and the internalized pressures that a patriarchal society forces upon women are examined and subverted.

In her practice Ariel strives to create works that are anti-essentialist, tongue-in-cheek commentaries on the social construction of gender roles and the manifested performances in which they result.

Photo Credit:  Screen grab from Little girl/ugly girl/not bad/just evil girl, Ariel Smith, 2011.

Access Gallery gratefully acknowledges the Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council, City of Vancouver, our members and volunteers. Access is a member of the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres.