Brad Necyk isn’t having an identity crisis but, with all of the pies that he has his fingers in these days, it’s entirely possible that he’s spreading himself a bit thin.
When asked about his rather short artistic career that contains his relatively extensive curriculum vitae of exhibits and publications, the St. Albert video, photographic, sound and installation artist only had one response.
He has participated in 18 exhibitions around Edmonton and the country in the last 48 months, and has some planned shows coming up in the United States as well.
Right now, he’s one of numerous artists from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom taking part in Encoding Identities, an exhibition of graduate student artworks.
Scratch that. Make it a double exhibition. The same show is too big for just one venue, so it’s being held at both the SNAP Gallery and dc3 Art Projects, both in downtown Edmonton. SNAP’s website (at www.snapartists.com) explains that the group show “explores the ways that digital, genetic and linguistic codes shape our bodies, subjectivities, and interpersonal relations.” It also investigates “the boundaries of coding processes to challenge the presumed stability and fixity of code.”
Heady stuff. Necyk is a perfect participant for the task. His work might seem playful at times, like Warhol or Damien Hirst and others, but he has his own intensely intellectual thing going on.
“I’m interested in the various structures that form and create subjects,” the 28-year-old former banker began. “In particular, I’m interested in the institution of psychiatry. I’m interested in how psychiatry is able to penetrate the body and categorize it, hierarchize it and in some sort of ways optimize it and return it to normal – y’know quotation marks normal – to a normalized being.”
He further explicated that while his art deals with the compendium of primarily psychoactive pharmaceuticals, it doesn’t focus on their benefits. He refers to the original Greek term, pharmakon, which he explains is about curing while poisoning.
It’s a subject that he places a lot of weight and focus on.
“The optimized technology when administering to mental illness is psychiatry – a complete anatomization of the body, installing sublimated substances into the central nervous system to metabolize and precisely bind to its structures and alter subjective experiences,” he writes on his artist’s statement on his website.
He relates the trivialities of personal life and the effects of these chemical substances on the human central nervous system. Sometimes it’s obvious like the Hirst-ian image inside a pharmacy’s medicine cabinet for psychiatric patients. Sometimes it’s a little more obscure like his musings on Lucy the Elephant, an animal, he describes, must be suffering the ultimate boredom. An image of a pristine suburban scene shows a minivan parked in a rock-lined driveway in some unnamed neighbourhood. There are no people or animals around, no activity. All of the grass is mowed. It looks perfect but there’s something unspeakably wrong just below the surface of it.
And those are just static images. His videos are another story entirely.
“My videos are narrations of autobiographical events overlaid atop of mundane everyday events that you would do. The narratives relate in some sort of way to these events in a more abstract way.”
One too many mornings, for instance, has two dogs chasing each other around the brown lawn of a backyard. Necyk talks in a voiceover about how he was 15 and just wanted to drive. This artist has a knack for juxtaposition.
He must not get much rest.
Now teaching at the University of Alberta, he’s got a healthy amount of work on the side to keep him running. In addition to his work in Encoding Identities, he also curated a show called “i see you pan” that just opened last Friday at the newly relocated and reopened Latitude 53. It’s a series of video works by students from the U of A’s department of intermedia. Necyk himself also has a piece in the show.
That gallery is now to be found at 10242 106 St., right next door to its former incarnation.
The Encoding Identities shows run until Saturday. The SNAP Gallery is located at 10123 121 Street and dc3 is located about 10 blocks away at 10567 111 Street. For more information or to check gallery hours, visit adgsa.wordpress.com.
People can also learn more about Necyk and check out galleries of his art on his website at www.bradnecyk.com. There’s a link to his YouTube channel on that site as well.