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A Mortician Walks Into a Bar | Lee Henderson

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

A Mortician Walks Into a Bar | July 26th – August 13th

Opening Reception

Thursday July 28th, 7pm

Artist in attendance

Struts Gallery and the Owens Art Gallery are pleased to present A Mortician Walks Into a Bar, a new video installation by Lee Henderson commissioned as part of Umbrella Projects series. Reciting On the Shortness of Life, Seneca's classical treatise on death, a comic maintains the performative techniques, rhythms, and mannerisms of stand-up comedy. Caught between the Stoic duty to remain true to the text and the Epicurean impulse to follow the pleasure of the riff, the comic tries to sustain her performative energy in an empty room. As she relays Seneca's philosophy of life, she "dies" onstage with each unanswered quip.

This project is a part of the Umbrella Projects series, a partnership between the Owens and Struts Gallery, designed to pool resources, energies, and respective strengths in order to facilitate off-site, in-print, online, and onscreen programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than retrofitting existing programming to suit an online platform, the series aimed to reimagine the possibilities—to expand not retreat.

Lee Henderson (b. Saskatoon, 1979~) is a contemporary artist whose practice includes video, photography, installation, sculpture, performance, and text. His work moves in constant contemplation of death, somewhere between the persistence of collective histories and the brevity of individual lives. Henderson has studied art in Canada and Germany, holding a BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design (2003) and an MFA from the University of Regina (2005). Recent and upcoming projects involve a radio DJ’s 9-day sleep-deprivation breakdown (Untitled Peter Tripp Project at Curtain Razors, PAVED Arts and The Dunlop Art Gallery, 2021-22); embroidered patches of musical groups named after acts of war (An Abridged Sonic History of Global Conflict at Alix Art Gallery, Sarnia, 2020); and a 24-hour, uninterrupted video of the Icelandic sky during summer solstice (What Time Is It on the Sun? at PSAS Fremantle, Australia, 2023).

Henderson represented Canada as the 2017 Glenfiddich Artist in Residence, and is a winner of the Gattuso Prize for his 2016 CONTACT exhibition Never Letting Us Take Breath. He teaches photography and new media at OCAD and Toronto Metropolitan Universities, and is represented by Zalucky Contemporary, in Toronto.


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