Mere Phantoms: Winter Garden

Winter Garden
Mere Phantoms 

March 30 – May 11, 2019
Opening Reception: March 30, 2019 from 2:00-4:00 pm

Hamilton Artists Inc. is pleased to present Winter Garden, an interactive exhibition by Montreal-based artist-duo Mere Phantoms.

Maya Ersan and Jaimie Robson, the artists behind Mere Phantoms, construct intricate, three-dimensional landscapes out of paper. Their latest installation, Winter Garden, explores historical structures built for uprooting, possessing, and colonizing plants from around the world. When illuminated using hand-held lights, the constructions’ shadowy underbellies are revealed.

First built in 19th century Europe, winter gardens were large-scale structures made from cast-iron and plate glass to house collections of exotic foliage. These indoor gardens produced a fantasy bubble in which desirable tropical climates could be re-created within Europe, serving as a testament to the power and wealth of those with the means to possess them. 

By drawing on the colonial origins of winter gardens, Mere Phantoms connect contemporary migration, displacement and housing struggles with a historical lineage of systemic dispossession of plants, animals, and humans. Where is the line between a desire to belong and a desire to possess? Who is granted the privilege of access to a home, and on what terms? In Winter Garden, Mere Phantoms uses the delicacy of paper to reflect on the crude politics of spaces built to house living things.

This exhibition will be accompanied by a publication with an essay written by Tara Bursey.


Auxiliary Programming:

Paper Trails: Three Paper Based Exhibitions
Saturday, April 6, 2019, 2:00 pm
Location: Art Gallery of Hamilton (123 King St. W. Hamilton, ON L8P 4S8)

Paper Trails is a tour of three exhibitions showcasing a plethora of aesthetic approaches to paper, spread between exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the Hamilton Artist Inc. This tour begins with a quick look at Above the Fold: New Expressions in Origami, followed by an introduction to The Living Room: unfolding… led by Toronto-based artist Kristiina Lahde who will speak to her work. Participants will have an opportunity to partake in the hands-on component of this exhibition before heading to Hamilton Artists Inc. to experience Winter Garden, a new installation by Mere Phantoms, and collaborate on another hands-on activity. Walking, talking, folding and unfolding, all in one afternoon! Free event. Please click HERE to register.


Based in Montreal, Mere Phantoms is a creative studio that combines intricate paper cutouts, drawings, video and animation to create site-specific installations and performances. By inviting audiences to take on an active role in creating and animating the work, these immersive environments explore audience/performer relationships and the opportunity for interplay between the two.

The work that Mere Phantoms artists Maya Ersan and Jaimie Robson have been creating together since in 2011 is inspired by shadow puppetry, animation, and early cinema, yet is distinct from these traditions. In traditional shadow puppetry the puppets are moved and animated from behind a flat screen, using a static light source to cast a shadow. Ersan and Robson construct intricate three-dimensional “sets” made of paper cutouts that are placed in front of the projection screen making them integral to the installation. By combining multiple hand-held light sources the artists and their public audiences animate the artwork, playing with the size, scale, and intensity of the layered shadows that are cast.

Maya Ersan (from Istanbul Turkey) and Jaimie Robson (from Victoria BC) both have Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees from Emily Carr University (Vancouver, 2002, and 2003). Jaimie has a Masters in Communications (Media Studies) from Concordia University.

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