Ydessa Hendeles

The Milliner's Daughter


The Power Plant presents Ydessa Hendeles' first retrospective exhibition at a public institution.

CURATOR: GAËTANE VERNA, DIRECTOR, THE POWER PLANT

Ydessa Hendeles explores perceptions of difference and diversity in her work, assembling objects and artefacts into contemporary fables about the way representation and distortion, appropriation and assimilation can filter group and individual identities. For her first retrospective exhibition at a public institution, The Power Plant will display a selection of her artworks drawn from the past decade.

While the artworks in The Milliner's Daughter are informed by Hendeles' own personal and familial history, they also invite viewers to find points that resonate or connect with their own lives. The exhibition thus puts a graphic focus on their own stories, fostering a relationship with the audience that is engaging and never passive.

Presented over both floors of the gallery, The Milliner’s Daughter offers a single, multi-layered narrative. Included is From her wooden sleep… (2013), built around a group of wooden artists’ manikins composed in an unsettling tableau vivant. Sitting on benches arranged on the gallery floor rather than displayed on plinths, the manikins form a distinct community whose intense focus and collective gaze challenge visitors to consider and attempt to understand their relationship to the other occupants of the same space. Also part of this exhibition are THE BIRD THAT MADE THE BREEZE TO BLOW (2006-11), Crypt (2016), Canadian Child (2009), The Dead Jumbo. (2011) and Marburg! The Early Bird! (2008-2016).

For this first survey of her work, Hendeles has also created a new element, Blue Beard (2016), in The Power Plant's Fleck Clerestory to provide a dramatic and evocative portal to the exhibition. Through the lens of cultural objects and icons, the narrative that unfolds through the galleries conjures a deeply personal storyline about the power dynamics in relations between insiders and outsiders with all the vivid playfulness—and serious intent—of childhood fairy tales.


Ydessa Hendeles is a pioneering exponent of curating as a creative artistic practice. Blurring the borders between collector, curator and artist, she has fashioned her own distinctive space in the contemporary art world.

Beginning in the early 1990s, Hendeles began to incorporate her own artistic projects into her exhibition program at the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation in Toronto and continued to do so until the gallery closed in 2012, after 25 years and the passing of her mother. Hendeles' psychologically charged works have been exhibited at: New Museum, New York (2016); Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (2016); Kunsthaus Hamburg, Germany (2016); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2015); König Galerie, Berlin (2012); Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York (2011); Marburger Kunstverein, Marburg, Germany (2010); Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2010); National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2004); and Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2003).

Ydessa Hendeles is represented by Barbara Edwards Contemporary, Toronto, where her recent work, Death to Pigs, was exhibited in 2016. She now divides her time between studios in Toronto and New York.

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