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Dazed and confused: The Reach’s new exhibit by Marcia Pitch a visual equivalent of existentialism

The human mind usually tries to make sense of the things we see; we try to find patterns in our lives and experiences.

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By Martin Castro (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: January 7, 2015

Madness reigns at the Reach. (Image: Martin Castro)

Madness reigns at the Reach. (Image: Martin Castro)

The human mind usually tries to make sense of the things we see; we try to find patterns in our lives and experiences. But artist Marcia Pitch defies any sort of pattern with her exhibit Between Madness and Delight, currently on display at the Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford.

A visual cacophony of dolls and trinkets placed in outlandish positions overwhelm the eye, jumping out at the passerby. Pitch herself describes the scene as “a nexus between lunacy and glee.” As guests stare into a white room filled with dolls hanging from the ceiling, on the floor, the walls, and on several pedestals of varying heights and angles, we get the feeling there’s some kind of sense to this scene. Or that there must be, anyway.

I found myself jumping from component to component, trying to decipher what, if any, intention Pitch had when she placed a certain figure in one position, as opposed to another. Gestalt theory posits that when we are exposed to stimuli, we try to assign a meaning to the whole, independent of its components. So when we see a car, we don’t see glass, metal, rubber, and paint   we see a car. When exposed to the sheer existential horror that is Between Madness and Delight, I tried to make sense of the ridiculous amount of visual information presented so haphazardly before me. There’s a reason for this figure’s placement and position, I thought. What is it?

While I tried as hard as I could to assign some sort of order or meaning to what I was seeing, I failed miserably. However, I found solace in the thought that if I couldn’t discern any clear message from the “madhouse” (as Pitch herself describes it), then most of the people around me probably couldn’t either. Ha! I thought as I let the various outlandish scenes wash over me, Marcia is probably laughing from afar, gleeful at the prospect that her exhibit so flawlessly reflects the chaos and unpredictability of real life. If we can’t even make sense of dolls in a room, how could we possibly make sense of our own increasingly intricate lives?

Slightly bewildered, I stumbled out of the exhibition room, thankful of Pitch’s stark reminder that life itself is chaos, and we ought not to take it so seriously when we can’t make sense of what’s before us.

Just go with the flow, man.

Between Madness and Delight will be on display at the Reach until March 1.

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