The Sire of Sires is a new video work by Jordan Elliot Prosser produced during his artist residency at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery. A loose adaption of L’Après-midi d’un faune – first a poem by Stéphane Mallarmé (1876), then a symphony by Claude Debussy (1894) and ballet by Vaslav Nijinsky (1912) – The Sire of Siresis the latest chapter in Prosser’s expanding video series mapping personal and collective histories of Oshawa. In earlier works, Prosser turned to local landmarks such as General Motors and Parkwood Estate to reflect on the city’s precarious post-industrial identity. In this new work, he considers another performance-driven industry that took root in Oshawa in the 20th century: Windfields Farm.
Through the late 20th-century, E.P. Taylor’s horse breeding enterprise at Windfields was the leading producer of Thoroughbreds in Canada, the most famous of which, Northern Dancer, was the first Canadian-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby. In the course of his life, and well beyond it, Northern Dancer became the most influential stallion in North America and retired as a sought-after studding horse at Windfields in 1965. As the “sire of sires,” many of his descendants achieved success in both racing and breeding, including Nijinsky whose namesake, Vaslav Nijinsky, was a prominent originator of modern ballet in the 20th-century.
In Prosser’s film, the central figure from Mallarmé’s original poem, dramatized in 1912 by Nijinsky’s controversial choreography, is reimagined as a horse. In a plaster mask, the character journeys through Windfields and its surrounding suburban landscapes in ways that are at times curious and searching, and in others, bored and languishing. In addition to capturing a sense of this place, Prosser is interested in considering the ways that lineage and reproduction are valued in Oshawa’s industrial histories and civic identity. By drawing on the creative lineages of Mallarmé, Debussy, and Nijinsky, Prosser also inserts himself within these traditions, exploring the relationship between reproduction and artistic legacy.
Jordan Elliott Prosser is a multi-media installation artist interested in the architecture of subjective experience. His works result from a practice that holds onto things for too long: accumulating archives of documentary material and then negotiating their jagged inconsistencies into uncanny assemblages. He received a Master of Visual Studies from the University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Architectural Studies with Distinction from the University of Waterloo, and studied Literary, Musical, & Visual Thought at the European Graduate School. His work has been shown at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, Hearth Garage, and Crutch CAC. As a producer Jordan has facilitated projects with internationally renowned artists and institutions including: The Vitra Design Museum, MAK Vienna, and The Venice Biennale among many others.
This exhibition is supported by the RBC Foundation’s RBC Emerging Artist Project.