The Power Plant presents Ydessa Hendeles' first retrospective exhibition at a public institution.

CURATOR: GAËTANE VERNA, DIRECTOR, THE POWER PLANT

Ydessa Hendeles has explored notions of difference and diversity in her work, assembling objects and artefacts into contemporary fables about the way representation and distortion, appropriation and assimilation can filter group and individual identities. For this first survey of her creative practice, The Power Plant will display elements of her "curatorial compositions" (the term she coined to capture her unique approach) and art works from the past decade that develop these themes. Presented over both floors of the gallery, The Milliner’s Daughter offers a single, multi-layered dialogue between its individual elements and the arena in which they resonate with each other. Included is From her wooden sleep… (2013), built around a group of wooden artists’ manikins composed in an unsettling tableau vivant. Sitting on benches arranged on the gallery floor rather than displayed on plinths, the manikins form a distinct community whose intense focus and collective gaze challenge visitors to decode their relationship with these other occupants of the space. Also part of this exhibition are THE BIRD THAT MADE THE BREEZE TO BLOW (Berlin, 2012)—including a large automaton, Aero-Car N˚500 (2011)—and Church & State (The Puss in Boots Project) (2008), originally made for Marburg! The Early Bird! (Marburg, 2010).

For her first retrospective exhibition at a public institution, Hendeles has also created a new element, Blue Beard (2016), for the Fleck Clerestory to provide a dramatic and evocative portal to the exhibition. Through the lens of cultural objects and icons, the narrative unfolding through the galleries conjures a deeply personal storyline about the power dynamics in relations between insiders and outsiders with all the vivid playfulness—and serious intent—of childhood fairy tales. The Milliner’s Daughter is made to foster a relationship with audiences that is never a passive one on either side. While the art works are informed by Hendeles and her own family history, she invites viewers to find points that reverberate in themselves and put a graphic focus on their own stories.

In a distinguished career as gallerist, art collector and contemporary art curator before she focused solely on making make her own artworks, the Marburg, Germany-born Hendeles has fashioned a distinctive space in the contemporary art world with her fusion of several practices.

Beginning in the early 1990s, Hendeles began to incorporate her own artistic projects into her exhibition programme at the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation in Toronto and continued to do so until the gallery closed in 2012, after 25 years and the passing of her mother. Her psychologically charged works have been exhibited at: Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2003); National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2004); Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2010); Marburger Kunstverein, Marburg, Germany (2010); Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York (2011); König Galerie, Berlin (2012); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2015); Kunsthaus Hamburg, Germany (2016); Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (2016); and the New Museum, New York (2016).

Ydessa Hendeles is represented by Barbara Edwards Contemporary, Toronto, where her recent work, Death to Pigs, was exhibited in 2016. She now divides her time between studios in Toronto and New York.