Tiziana La Melia



Tiziana La Melia was born in Palermo (Italy). She is an artist and writer who lives and works as a guest on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw, Stó:l?, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples (Vancouver). Recent and upcoming exhibitions include Ambivalent Pleasures, Vancouver Art Gallery (Vancouver); Domestic Like a Pre-raphelite Brotherhood, Truth and Consequences (Geneva); Johnny Suede, Damien and the Love Guru (Brussels); Broom Emotion, galerie anne baurrault (Paris); In the Land of Skeletons, Galerie der Stadt Schwaz (Schwaz); The Kamias Triennale (Philippines). Her poetry and criticism has appeared in Art 21, The Interjection Calender, C Magazine, The Organism for Poetic Research, The Capilano Review, The LA Art Book Review, and West Coast Line. In 2014, she won the RBC Canadian Painting Competition.



My work considers woman as artist and thinker as theme. Through painting, installation, and writing, my work has explored to date, the relationship between proprioceptive experience and the way that perception is filtered — be that the description of the body in relationship to space and technology, as in the double meaning and transformative potential of the blinking cursor on a blank word processor screen in “LOT” (2013-14) or the mural sized painting in Broom Emotion, that I painted on the floor using a broom, made in reference to a series of poems and texts where the title meditates on the relationship between bodies and tools, bodies and words (for instance, the first letter of each word disappears and evokes a different kind of affective and physical spatial care: broom→room-→oom). In these works, the body is made present through description of how architectural borders such as walls and floors delineate or pierce perception. Revolving around the allure of unstable semiotics, language digresses. Things become subjects, subjects become things. Hyphens, metonymy, stutters, and slime form a mutating and nonlinear poetics. The work is populated by angelfish girls (as in Simple, Sincere, frank and Straightforward, 2015) dropouts, and spins[is]ters (a character study of my aunt)—who are preoccupied by fate, weather, food, perfume, writing, and pets. Titles and form evoke theatrical structures to navigate the slippage between objects and language, plotting to blur the dialectic of the utilitarian and the lyrical.


During my residency in Marseille, I began making works for part of the Broom Emotion installation which I call bomboniere sculptures. The materials and ideas in this work were influenced by the use of resin in my paintings to encapsulate a potpourri of collected objects, which included aged silk flowers used in bomboniere, reminding me of childhood mementos that I had bought from Value Village while working on an exhibition in St. Johns last year. Bomboniere refers to a kind of token or gift one receives, common to catholic pagan cultures in Italy and elsewhere, and which is often made of cheap materials – tulle, tissue paper, sugar coated almonds, paper butterflies, glass ashtray, Disney figurines, ceramic babies in bassinettes – it is a generic term for the gift someone receives after attending a baptism or a wedding or communion or an anniversary. There is a sad quality to these flowers, and stilled inside the encapsulate, that got me thinking about other kinds of kitsch containers such as hallmark cards and the way calligraphy is used to express sentiment in that context. These thoughts lingered during the residency in Marseille, where I kept finding myself attracted to the party stores full of cheap bomboniere materials, and the way that shop keepers would arrange cardboard plastic and foam flowers into delicate arrangements. I started thinking about the simultaneous care and violence of this kind of sentimentality, not because of any kind of gendered associations that the materials hold, but violent in the way that nostalgia seemed prefabricated – where the meaning is forgotten and as a gesture seems more about telling you what meaning is before you get a chance to experience the events – forcing you to have to remember the thing before it has even occurred. The sculptures I made in Broom Emotion use the shopkeepers tenderness to touch as a logic, and tulle as a net, but whose occasion is uncertain. Often I ask myself this question: How can we break from the scripts that limit our subjectivities while also upholding those scripts that help us to understand our respective histories? In Broom Emotion, as with my textual and flat relief paintings, or if you like, sculptures, I often address, in earnest and absurd ways, the desperation with which trust is fit into words, objects, poses, faces— shifting their assumed meaning from writing to thing, and things into lyrical modes of thought and feeling.