April 2, 2019

StackLab Creates an Experiential IRL Installation for Instagram-Famous Photographer, Elie

Photography by Rajeshta Julatum (@tonoariki). Image courtesy of StackLab.

Photographer Elie Kimbembe (@elie) is part of a rising generation of creatives making names for themselves in Toronto’s arts scene. While Elie’s breathtaking urban architecture shots jump-started his loyal 221,000-strong Instagram following, he’s since reached international acclaim as a favorite of musicians (The Weeknd, Selena Gomez, and Drake, to name a few), the fashion set (Calvin Klein) and entertainment giants (Disney’s Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios). Oh, and he’s 25 years old.

A true digital native, Elie’s first photography exhibit, Solo, was a sold-out, two-day-only affair that took place on March 28 and 29 in Toronto. To perfect its execution, he enlisted local art and design studio Stacklab and the support of Up Cannabis.

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Photography by Rajeshta Julatum (@tonoariki). Image courtesy of StackLab.

“Stacklab collaborated closely with Elie on the design of the ‘Solo’ exhibition. The main gallery features a series of vaulted chambers, made up of a regular arrangement of diffusely lit fabric wells,” explains StackLab founder Jeffrey Forrest, who worked with Elie to plan the exhibit. “Harnessing Einstein’s theories on the curvature of space, each ‘well’ appears to have been stretched from the top-down, emitting a deluge of ultrasonic mist across the luminous floor plane. Contrasted against the gravity of the conic piers, Elie’s 16 photographs hang in the quiet, vaporous space between them.”

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Forrest set out to create an experience of discovery, addressing Elie’s desire to awe the viewer with a sense of the unknown. The installation’s conic wells framed each photo while obstructing any outside of the viewer’s direct sight line. This served a dual purpose of compelling the viewer to circulate the exhibit and created little vignettes of intimacy between the viewer and the photo. 

“I think it’s a bit of a spatial representation of the way the internet works. You never know what you’re going to get when you keep going, going, going down the rabbit hole of content. So Elie came to us and said he really wanted the space to be ethereal and to read as a series of moments you discover,” said Forrest. “When you do discover them, you have a very intimate relationship with those discoveries.”

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