We visited Katie Bethune-Leamen's apartment just as the cold was setting in on Toronto. With many distractions from her cat Quincy we watched the sun set over the Landsdowne No Frills and talked about residencies, the North and Hologram TuPac.
Bethune-Lehman's work is immediately engaging because of it's deceptively simple and sometimes-comic nature. This straightforwardness belies inner layers that seek back to the myths and mysterious at humanity's core. She seems to have a fascination with the cold places and the things that fall into them from beyond our stratosphere. Ghosts, mummers, icebergs, hats, meteors and explorers people her work. Whether wearable sculpture, video, performance or object, she has a way of presenting work that seems to reveal the making, yet trick the viewer as to what they are actually experiencing.
The "hologram" of Tupac (that was not a hologram but a Victorian parlour trick) that showed up at Coachella in 2012 holds an enduring interest for Bethune-Leamen. Blue masks of many shapes and media referencing this event are throughout her apartment, propositions of things to come.
In recent years Bethune-Leamen has participated in many residencies including: Fogo Island Arts Residency, off the coast of Newfoundland; SIM Residency in Reykjavik, Iceland and in 2014 she will be the artist in resident at LKV in Trodheim, Norway. She describes residencies as a way to "trouble the practice". Taken away from familiar materials and routines, she has a knack for creating ritualized and powerful work using what is at hand: both mundane materials, the beauty and magnitude of the surrounding land and people she meets along the way.