Kyla Mallett has been researching, collecting and archiving second-hand self-help materials as a way to delve into the context and historical status of a popular, academically ‘unsanctioned’ discourse. The work uses this particular form of literary pop psychology to highlight a well-constructed promise of enlightenment and well being, while focusing on a cultural interest in the genre as a gesture of hope. Tempered by a healthy dose of skepticism about its transformative power, the work conflates and repositions this wobbly sphere of self-improvement and its role as a social convention.
Personhood features a series of recent prints that pull from the covers of several of these self-improvement texts popular in the ’70s and ’80s. By highlighting the language, typography and overall graphic design of this material, she creates images that feel like outdated posters for an industry of the most needful. In Personhood, we’re confronted by a group of declarative—but often absurdist—statements positing elliptical messages about the nature of being. There is humor here but also a revealing sense of how our society fixates on the fixable.
On the occasion of the exhibition, Kyla Mallett has produced a special edition print to accompany the series featured in Personhood. The edition is limited and will be available at the opening reception.
Kyla Mallett completed her MFA at the University of British Columbia in 2004 and her BFA at Emily Carr University in 2000. Working primarily in photography, text and print media, her practice engages with the intersection of culture and language., She usesing archival and statistical research to examine transgressive activities in such cultural arenas such as adolescence, feminism, academia and art. Past works have examined schoolgirls’ notes, girl bullying, gossip, marginalia in library books, hauntings and aura reading. Current projects involving parapsychology and self-help materials focus on marginal and devalued forms of language and communication. Mallett’s work has been exhibited widely, including at the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Vancouver Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), Modern Fuel (Kingston), Canadian Cultural Centre (Paris), and The Power Plant (Toronto)., She has hadwith solo exhibitions in Vancouver at Artspeak (Vancouver), Catriona Jeffries (Vancouver) and , Access (Vancouver), as well as at ThreeWalls (Chicago), Mount St. Vincent University Gallery (Halifax), The Southern Alberta Art Gallery (Lethbridge), and Mercer Union (Toronto). She is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Visual Art and Material Practice and the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, Canada.
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