Guelph Arts Council’s current exhibition at 10C, These Fucking Machines, by local artist Madeleine Lychek, explores themes of representation and censorship in the virtual realm. 

Lychek is primarily a video and performance artist as well as a curator and arts worker. Lychek currently resides in Guelph and received an Honours in Studio Art with distinction from the School of Fine Art and Music from the University of Guelph. She currently works as the Program Director at Ed Video Media Arts Center in Guelph Ontario. 

Guelph is home to a rich and close-knit arts community made up of both established and emerging artists (many, similarly to Lychek, graduated from the University of Guelph’s SOFAM Program). When asked about her role in the Guelph arts community, Lychek explained that through her work and artistic practice she aims to bring people together and build community. As an artist and arts worker, Lychek presents compelling work that looks towards, and helps to build a more equitable future. 

Lychek summarizes her art practice and work with Ed Video into three key points: ‘initiate, include, and inspire’. The series of AI generated images using queer, sexual, and racialized keywords intitates conversations about how marginalized bodies are categorized and percived by AI technologies. This exploration furthers the conversation on the censorship and limitations of bodies in virtual space while forcing viewers to think critically about why such technologies produce sanitized and paltitable versions of these bodies. To quote Lychek, “the virtual limitations of the body reinforce the internalized perceptions of physical bodies – vilify, conceal, and censor.” 

These virtual images do not take up physical space. However, they do create the space to question what is included, in comparison to what is explicitly left out and why that is. Who are these virtual spaces for? 

We asked Lychek where she saw room for growth in the Guelph arts community in relation to the themes of this work Lychek explains there is a desire from the community to see more radical ideas presented in the Guelph arts community. ‘Safe Spaces’ have become buzzwords, but we must continually question who these spaces are safe for.” The work in this exhibit is a perfect opportunity for fueling these important conversations and reflections. 

These Fucking Machines is on until August 30th at 42 Carden Street, Guelph. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. To explore more of Madeleine Lychek’s work check out the artist’s website here and Instagram here.

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