Max Streicher is a sculptor and installation artist who has worked extensively with kinetic inflatable forms since 1991. He has exhibited in numerous public galleries and artist-run centers across Canada, and has completed several site-specific projects in Venice, Sienna, Stockholm and Germany. He was a founding member of the ‘Nethermind’ collective of artists, which organized four large exhibitions in alternative spaces in Toronto between 1991 and 1995.
Streicher sews together lightweight polyethylene cloth, which is typically used for hi-tech industrial applications, to create lifelike sculptures. The resulting forms are inflated by industrial fans and simple valve mechanisms to animate them with a surrogate life which engages viewers in an experience that is both bodily and interactive.
In his Blow series, shown as part of the Life Forms exhibition, the breath is taken to heightened extremes. Inflated by industrial fans and simple valve mechanisms his works are animated with a surrogate life, as the air fills the form and moves through the pliable material it recalls our own sensation of breath, breathlessness or of holding our breath. The exhalation does not stop until the figure is sucked into flatness. How this breathing cycle is read depends on what the individual viewer brings to the work, and their own personal empathy. Gasping for breath is a function either of coming to life or expiring; it can be an image of playfulness and birth, or one of death. Both cases involve physical empathy of the elemental, powerful, and tenuous forces that animate us all.