Monday, July 13, 2009

Plagues and Savoir Faire???

On Saturday while dodging torrential downpours in the morning in Toronto, I made a beeline for the Annual Outdoor Art Exhibition at City Hall. It can be a bit too much with well over 500 artists represented in all mediums, from painting, sculpture, ceramics and photography.

I came across a young woman photographer whose work (particularly one series of photos) which I have not been able to get out my mind. Over the centuries we have become used to artists portraying every possible scene and character out of the bible. From the high renaissance to surrealism, everyone has had a go. Toronto photographer Talia Shipman chose as her inspiration Moses and the ten plagues of Egypt, to create an incredible series of 10 photographs, that compare the plagues with problems facing a 21st century society. These photographs draw you in, and I was immediately captivated by them. The body of work is aptly named “EXODUS: The Ten Plagues”

The works are listed as follows;




Beasts/Gun Proliferation

Cattle Disease/ Hormone, GMO’s


Hail /Climate Change

Locusts/Urban Sprawl

Darkness/media Filter

Slaying of the Firstborn/Loss of Childhood Innocence

Although they are dense with themes, and connotations that question the dark side of the human condition, they are incredibly simplistic in their approach. After initially viewing the photos we start questioning their themes and also the style itself. The two men are brothers (in real life) and represent Moses and Cain, however personally I think that there is a fine line between whether they are perpetrators or victims. They seem almost malevolent and carry with themselves a sense of foreboding, while seeming increasingly innocent. This adds to man’s vulnerability in our modern day and age, and questions us to take responsibility for our own actions. Like Pharaoh in Ancient Egypt we have a choice and depending on the choice we make, we take the consequences. “By re-interpreting the ‘Old Testament into a contemporary framework Shipman presents us with a doctrine we can relate to and perhaps abide by”

I know that plagues and savoir faire don’t really go together however here is a body of work I would love to have hanging on my walls!


  1. It's a little unnerving if you ask me. Interesting as all get out but strangely and dark.

  2. Yes, they are a little unnerving,however I love them. Certainly not everyone's taste


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