SONJA AHLERS in Canadian Art

“Vanessa Nicholas’ Top 3: Of Solos and Selfhood” / Canadian Art / Canadian Art / December 16, 2010

1. Sonja Ahlers: The Selves published by Drawn & Quarterly
In the spring, Drawn & Quarterly released the latest book project by artist Sonja Ahlers, who is based partly in the Yukon. Described as “a feminist scrapbook” by Ahlers, The Selves is a heartbreakingly beautiful, rambling collage of girlhood ephemera. Found images of pop icons like Princess Diana, Stevie Nicks and the Olsen twins are combined with watercolour drawings and text to create the experience of peeking inside an adolescent’s journal or bedroom. Ahlers’ compositions are at once delicate, familiar, strange and painful. They delve deep into the interior lives of women and consider the relationship between female fantasy and identity. My top pick for 2010 may not be an exhibition, but flipping through The Selves is as experiential as walking through an installation; and the artist’s mix of soft-focus, vintage aesthetic and hard-edged critique is utterly of the moment.

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