The Cage is a Stage (Fleuron) Emily Mast

June 22, 2016 - September 18, 2016

Emily Mast, The Cage is a Stage (Fleuron), 2016, chromogenic print, printed on acrylic billboard, 72” x 108”. Photo: Betsy Lin Seder. Image courtesy of the artist and Blackwood Gallery.

For each exhibition, the Blackwood Gallery presents a work in the Bernie Miller Lightbox, a billboard sized (108" x 72") venue installed on the outside of the William Davis Building (formerly known as South Building) where the two wings of the building meet at the end of the "Five Minute Walk".

The Cage is a Stage (Fleuron) is commissioned by Director/Curator Christine Shaw for the exhibition The Cage is a Stage. on view from June 22 – September 18, 2016.


Special Event

Emily Mast will speak about her practice at Running with Concepts: The Choreographic Edition taking place at the Blackwood Gallery September 16-18. This three-day hybrid event is part colloquium, part workshop, part performance, and part experiment. For more information on the conference, please click here.

Project Description

Emily Mast's The Cage is a Stage (Fleuron) is a visual emblem for the entire project, The Cage is a Stage. The photograph features Mast's cast of performers and collaborators performing the project vignette Planks, a meditation on captivity and its effect on human and animal behaviour. The title (Fleuron) refers to a printer's flower, a symbol often used as an ornament for typographic compositions. Interested in the imprecision of language, Mast often allows her work to unfold in chapters, presenting iterations and offshoots of the same piece in various contexts. This billboard forms one part of a multi-compositional project which also includes two gallery exhibitions, a billboard, a short performance at the Blackwood Gallery, and an evening-length performance that premieres onstage at The Power Plant’s Harbourfront Centre Theatre.  

By scrutinizing animality, the The Cage is a Stage examines some of the deep-seated compulsions of the human species, such as the need to control, tame, punish, and play.  In this way, Mast will construct a landscape of stylized vignettes in order to expand on ideas that John Berger put forth in his essay “Why Look at Animals,” in which he compares zoos to art galleries. Stating that each cage acts as a frame around the animal inside, he proposes that visitors stroll from cage to cage in the zoo much like they stroll from artwork to artwork in an exhibition. Like theatre sets, the zoo décor is pure illusion, and what is outside of these delusory environments therefore holds the promise of being “real.” As a result, what’s inside becomes a fictionalized account of the “natural,” thus revealing more about who we are as storytellers than the subject of the story itself.

Artist Biography

Emily Mast (born in Akron, Ohio, 1976) recently staged a solo “choreographed exhibition” called Missing Missing at La Ferme du Buisson in Noisiel, France, and an 18-part roving procession of performances based on the poetry of Joan Brossa at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In addition, her video, installation, and performance work was part of the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A. Biennial (2014). Mast’s performances have been exhibited at venues including: China Art Objects Galleries, Los Angeles (2015); Mona Bismarck American Center, Paris (2015); Silencio, Paris (2015); Night Gallery, Los Angeles (2014); Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Project Space, New York (2013); Public Fiction, Los Angeles (2012); REDCAT, Los Angeles (2012); MUHKA, Antwerp (2011); Human Resources, Los Angeles (2010) and Performa, New York (2009). Mast has received numerous awards including a Harpo Foundation Grant (2013); Center for Cultural Innovation Investing in Artists Grant (2013); Franklin Furnace Fund Grant (2013); and a California Community Foundation Fellowship (2012). In 2009 Mast graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Southern California and has been an artist-in-residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture; the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito; and Yaddo in Saratoga Springs. 

Installation views