Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art in Border Crossings

My review of "Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art" appears in issue 128 of Border Crossings. I wish I could have been in Winnipeg, my old stomping ground, for the Holiday Launch Party.

Sakahàn, International Indigenous Art” was the first in what is planned to be a quinquennial exhibition devoted to contemporary art by Indigenous artists from around the globe. Its title is an Algonquin word that means “to light a fire,” marking an auspicious beginning to an admirable and ambitious project undertaken by the National Gallery of Canada, which resides in traditional Algonquin territory. The largest ever exhibition of contemporary Indigenous art, it is also the largest art show the gallery has done, period. Featuring over 150 works by 80 artists from 16 countries, with events and exhibitions coordinated with multiple partnering institutions, the exhibition was so sprawling that the handy and much-needed map given to visitors could not even include all the territory it covered. The exhibition confirmed and amplified the institution’s commitment to the collection, study and exhibition of Indigenous art. With the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a touchstone text for the exhibition, the forward thinking on display in Sakahàn provided multiple tools for a general audience to think critically about the issues presented.  

For the complete review, check out Border Crossings 128, available at the finest bookstores, newsstands, and libraries near you.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Homework II Panel #5: Electronic Dance Music

I was invited by The Broken City Lab to curate and moderate a panel presentation for their second conference on collaborative and socially-engaged art practices, Homework II: Long Forms/Short Utopias. The conference built on their previous conference held two years earlier, Homework: Infrastructures & Collaboration in Social Practices. Once again, in Windsor, Ontario, they brought together multidisciplinary artists and creative practitioners enacting and articulating the complexities of working in practices driven by curiosities about utopian collaboration, community, infrastructures, locality, and long-form social practice.

For the event, I brought together a group of creative practitioners whose work addressed the themes of the conference through their engagement with electronic dance music. The panelists include Bambitchell (Sharlene Bamboat and Alexis Mitchell) (Toronto) who presented on their project, Border Sounds; Michael Caffrey and Kerry Campbell (Gatineau) who discussed their “GhettoBlast Sound System;” and Chris McNamara (Windsor) presented on his experience with the Windsor/Detroit techno music scene and described his involvement with the audio collective “Nospectacle.” The panelists’ projects employ electronic dance music in various ways that construct, articulate, and practice ideas of micro-utopias, pop-up ideals, and long-term social engagement. The event was live-streamed and recorded and remains accessible online. Press play.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Artist Book Now!

My artist book Empirer is featured in the exhibition "The Artist Book Now" at La Fab - Chelsea Arts, Culture and Heritage Centre from the November 2nd to November 30th, 2013. Curated by Margit Hideg, the exhibition asks if the the Artist’s Book can evolve into the 21st century. It includes a kaleidoscope of works from all disciplines and mediums as well a community-based interactive installation.

Empirer is an unauthorized translation of Hardt and Negri’s Empire into Unicode text in a unique edition that binds in hardcover with gold text and red ribbon the printed text of a book made available in electronic form. Published at the turn of the new millennium, Empire is a work of political philosophy about the spread of globalization that was so popular at the time of its release it was allegedly hard to keep on the shelves at bookstores. I found a pdf version on-line that unfortunately was locked for printing. In my feeble attempts to “hack” and print the pdf, I generated a Unicode version of the text that gained in aesthetic appeal what it lost in meaning. It serves not only as a signifier for technology and its built-in obsolescence but also as a code book for cracking the mysterious global forces at work today.

In English, Empirer is the title of the book; In French, it is a verb, “to worsen.” Empire gets empirered.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Of Interest in BlackFlash 30.3

BlackFlash 30.3 is now available to order online. It features, in its "Of Interest" section, a text I wrote about a recent exhibition by the Ottawa artist Cheryl Pagurek.

My text is a review of the exhibition by Pagurek entitled “State of Flux” which was at the Patrick Mikhail Gallery from January 9 to February 9, 2013. In the review I explore the manner in which the subject matter of Pagurek’s images, a series of still and moving images that capture a river’s flows and reflections, is paralleled by her choice of medium, digital photography, underscoring dichotomies between the natural and the artificial as well as the analog and the digital. Pagurek states that through the deployment of water imagery she intends to conflate the natural and the artificial as the fluidity of the material spills over the boundaries of a strict duality. The exhibition achieves this goal through a sequence of three components: “State of Flux,” a series of digital prints featuring close-ups of bodies of water flowing and reflecting coloured lights and architectural surfaces; “River Suite,” a print that presents twelve selected close-up views of the water in a gridded composition that contains multiple viewpoints; and “Wave Patterns,” a dynamic twelve channel video that activates a variation on the “River Suite” with motion and sound. “Wave Patterns” was screened in 2012 at Modern Fuel in Kingston and the AKA Gallery in Saskatoon as part of a program that investigated regional difference, and it was also featured in a screening called “Videos of Canada” in Toulouse, France on March 16 as part of the festival Traverse Vidéo 2013. With these new works, Pagurek is continuing a previous trajectory of work that underscored environmental concerns at the same time that she shifts the perspective towards the abstract and metaphysical. With reference to the philosophy of Heraclitus, one can’t step into the same “State of Flux” twice.

For the complete review, check out the pdf uploaded by Pagurek on her website, or get the whole issue of BlackFlash 30.3, available online and at the finest bookstores, newsstands, and libraries near you.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Happiness is...

I was both intimidated and honored by the fact that I performed as Happiness is... on the same bill with some of my favourite musicians in the Ensemble SuperMusique and Kingdom Shore for the 12th edition of Tone Deaf, Kingston, Ontario's Festival of Adventurous Sound Performance.

My Happiness Is... project takes inspiration from the Jeffersonian principle of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," underscored by Hannah Arendt as happiness derived from participation in the public sphere. Happiness is... satisfies my desire for such participation through public performances in front of an audience as well as through dialogue with the source material I have selected for distortion and improvisation. Noise elements indicate my neurotic discontent with the status quo, yet register as a salvo of oppositional discourse in a performative dialectic inspired by the tradition of jazz.

For Tone Deaf 12, I highlighted the political dimension of my performance by taking as its source material Prime Minister Stephen Harper's performance of the Beatle's "With a Little Help from My Friends." Through music, political antagonism is shifted to the field of agonism or play.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pilgrimages Redux

Vincent Perez and I, working collaboratively under the name Catalog, presented “Pilgrimages Redux,” an illustrated tour of our respective pilgrimages to Mount Rushmore and Santiago de Compostela. Through spoken word and printed matter, this performance reflects a dialogue about our travels and the themes which drove our pilgrimages in the first place: curiousity, community, communication and context.

Following “Pilgrimages Redux,” Laura Kelly orchestrated another edition of the “Mouthy” series, an open-mic session inviting speakers and audience members alike to share short personal stories. The theme for this edition was "journeys." In the era of global travel, we all have a tale to tell.

The free event was presented in conjunction with the exhibition “Déjà déjà visité: Mike Bayne, Jocelyn Purdie, Maayke Schurer,” curated by Sunny Kerr at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario as part of Culture Days. Light refreshments were provided.

A podcast of the event is available online.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nova Express

Presented by the City of Ottawa’s Art Centres, “Nova Express” is a project I curated for Nuit Blanche Ottawa + Gatineau 2013. Connecting the theme of this year’s Nuit Blanche (Supernova!) to the ongoing acceleration of the information explosion, “Nova Express” presents artists whose work reconfigures and relays quotations and data in varying and idiosyncratic forms of public address. Works by Gerald and Maas, Allison Rowe, Dominique Sirois, the Think Tank that has yet to be named, and Guillermo Trejo make good company with the novel by William Burroughs whose title and cut-up composition inspired the name of this project. Emanating from the Nova Express Kiosk in the Byward Market at the corner of George and William, the project sought to deliver discrete packets of information throughout a noisy night.

John Bart Gerald and Julie Maas, in Ottawa since 1996, began as “Author & Artist, Gerald & Maas” in New York City in 1978, publishing their books, artworks, and suppressed work by others. In 1996 they opened in Ottawa. Their political posters began appearing in the early 1980s. Their website has carried the U.N. Convention on Genocide (print published, with permission in 1989 and 1996) since 2001, with related suppressed information and artwork. Maas is an artist of drawings, etchings, paintings, as well as the art director of Gerald’s poems and journalism appear internationally and on where he’s the writer, editor, and webmaster. A selection of Gerald and Maas’s work was available for viewing at the Nova Express Kiosk.

An interdisciplinary artist based in Toronto, Allison Rowe probes the intersections between aggressive protest and care giving, the factual and the personal. Her “Tar Sands Exploration Station” is an interactive sculpture and performance piece housed in a 1982 Dodge RAM camper van. This work contains objects, video, 2D, audio and food based artworks that address the Canadian tar sand deposits located in Alberta, Canada. Merging art, performance, domesticity, and science the work provides an alternative to the didactic, argumentative discourse around oil sand and creates a public space for conversation and personalization of this massive topic.

Based in Montreal, Dominique Sirois works in installation with a multidisciplinary approach including sound, performance, video and public intervention. Her reflexive approach revolves around work, consumption, art and fashion. Siroishas been collecting music samples featuring siren sounds found in a wide variety of genres from musiqueconrète to rap, R & B and techno. By overlaying the different historical and cultural contexts specific to these samples a sound mapping takes shape. Her ongoing iterations of “Alarm Songs” installations blur the space between surveillance and cultural entertainment.Sirois set up a special Nuit Blanche “Alarm Songs” installation,"We are a human alarm system," in the Nova Express Kiosk.

Jeremy Beaudry and Meredith Warner in Philadelphia and Katie Hargrave in Minneapolis comprise the core group of the Think Tank that has yet to be named, initiating research, conversations, and actions that explore contemporary sociopolitical issues in the places where they are encountered. They create generative spaces where strategic questions are invitations to others to consider their relationship to the places, structures, and systems which shape individual and collective experiences of the world. For Nuit Blanche, the Think Tank produced “Radical Orations on the Structures of Support.” Drawing upon the idea of the radical oration and the history of the street corner soapbox, a newsprint broadsheet containing the orations and instructions to construct a lo-fi megaphone were made available in the Nova Express Kiosk. These orations are combinations of various political and theoretical texts, remixed and placed into a performative, educational, and site-specific context. The broadsheet functioned not only as a published take-away for visitors but as a prompt for a distributed performance.

Originally from Mexico, Guillermo Trejo now lives in Ottawa, exploring the relation of the public to the printmaking process. He studied at the National School of Painting, Sculpture and Etching in Mexico City, where he specialized in contemporary printmaking. In 2012, he completed his MFA at the University of Ottawa. In his prints and installations, Trejo explores how the printmaking process is related to a public understanding of politics and social issues. Often employing political slogans and imagery, Trejo’s works reuse information in a critical way to question how knowledge is developed. For Nuit Blanche, at the Nova Express Kiosk, Trejo installed his “Enciclopedia Universal,” a constellation of an encyclopedic amount of information.

Information about the “Nova Express” project, including the Nova Express Newspaper, One-Night Only Edition with layout and design by Gatineau-based artist Simon Guibord, was distributed from the Nova Express Kiosk and throughout the zones of Nuit Blanche Ottawa + Gatineau 2013. In Burroughs’ novel, language acts as a virus causing mutations that blur boundaries between scientific and artistic research. The artists in the Nova Express project venture into similar territory. They offer unique interpretations of their findings and field reports that are both inviting and perplexing. Their import will sustain far more than one sleepless night.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"L'Occupation" Review in C Magazine 118

My review of Robert Tombs' exhibition "L'Occupation" appears in issue 118 of C Magazine.

Robert Tombs/L’Occupation was an exhibition at ParisCONCRET from 5 to 26 January 2013. With reference to "L’Occupation" as well as the artist’s previous work, and using Dominique Laporte's Histoire de la merde as a guiding text, I explore the manner in which Tombs underscores the base materiality of his practice. Tombs is an Ottawa-based artist who has been developing a conceptual practice through a series of reductive paint installations. For "L’Occupation," Tombs covered the walls of the gallery from floor to ceiling with canvas and systematically filled it with a repeating brushstroke of gold paint. On the surface, with its formalist concerns and its minimalist aesthetic, Tombs’ work fit right in with the mandate of the gallery. ParisCONCRET is an artist-run space devoted to the exhibition of “Concrete Art,” or non-objective, minimalist, reductive, abstract art in a pristine, white-cube setting. However, elements of the installation underscored the economic and political significance of art’s materiality and rubbed against the grain of the space.

The context of Tombs’ installation is as important as its content – or rather, it is through its context that content is smuggled into the space it occupies. The title of the work carries most of the weight. "L’Occupation" signifies on one level the activity of the artist himself. He is making a painting installation about painting. He is also occupying the space with his work for the duration of the exhibition, and in this regard, the work occupies as much of the space as possible by covering all of the available walls. On another level, Tombs is explicitly positioning his work within a history of “occupations” of Paris. In his artist statement for the show, Tombs claims that the work can be considered to allude to the Occupy Paris movement, to the occupation of France by the Nazis during World War II, to the reigns of autocratic kings that led to the French Revolution, and even to the reign of French Academic painting. If the stripped-down aesthetic of the installation allows for multiple, suggestive readings, it is largely due to the geographical location of the gallery, and the long history of Parisian seizures and conflicts in which the installation takes part. Tombs also points out that the process he used to cover the walls of ParisCONCRET is a variation on the technique of marouflage used extensively at Versailles, a palace symbolic of the French royalty’s power and influence. With a touch of self-mockery, Tombs draws attention to the display of power through art, marking out his territory with luxurious gold strokes.

The gold smears also suggest other more fecund matter that Tombs probably did not have in mind. In order to get behind "L’Occupation"’s façade of power, Dominique Laporte’s Histoire de la merde (Prologue) is a handy tool. An improper admixture of Marx and Freud that was written independently but contemporaneously with O’Doherty’s white cube essays, Laporte’s text rephrases Freud’s “Where id was, so shall ego be” as “Where shit was, so gold shall be,” suggesting that in both psychology and the economy that which is repressed returns in a sublimated form. Laporte examines the history of the rise of the Modern Capitalist State and Subject and determines that it rests on a foundation of the elimination and the denial of human bodily waste. Concerns in "L’Occupation" then, if they are linked with French history, can be traced back to the year 1539, when edicts from King Francis the First began processes that would aim to not only purify the French language but also purge the excrement, waste and offal from the streets of Paris. The beauty and order made visible in displays of royal wealth, as in the palace of Versailles, ironically rests on taxation and profit from the raw and filthy resources of the nation and colonized territories kept far from the seat of power. By using Histoire de la merde as a guide, one can in addition to bringing in its wider historical context, draw out the stinking underside of a hygienic looking white cube gallery fastidiously adorned with gold.

For the complete review, check out C Magazine 118, available at the finest bookstores, newsstands, and libraries near you.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Walking in Windsor for Homework

In October 2011, I attended Homework: Infrastructures & Collaboration in Social Practices, a two-day multidisciplinary conference organized by the Broken City Lab. An essay I wrote about my experience at the conference has been published in the latest issue of Syphon, Modern Fuel's Arts Newspaper. Look for it at the finest artist-run centre near you, or become a Modern Fuel member to get a free subscription. My essay appears as follows:

The train pulled into the Windsor station late in the evening on Thursday, October 20, 2011. It was the end of an eight hour journey for me. I was traveling from Kingston to Windsor for the two-day conference entitled Homework: Infrastructures & Collaboration in Social Practices. Organized by Windsor’s own collaborative social practice collective, Broken City Lab, the conference was to begin early the next morning at nine o’ clock, necessitating my arrival the night before. It was cold and dark as I exited the station into what felt like a dusty dirt alley behind a factory. It seemed that the alley served as a parking lot for the train station and it was at this instant rapidly emptying of the few vehicles there to pick up the expected arrivals. I had entertained the thought of walking to my hotel from the station because the map I consulted made it seem possible, but now I was tired and disoriented and discouraged by my situation: a chill had taken hold of me. I brightened when the light of an unoccupied taxi cab appeared.  Walking could wait for daylight. 

Nevertheless, I was excited about what lay before me. The conference had an ambitious scope and I hoped to gain a better appreciation of collaborative social practices through my attendance: not only through the scheduled panel presentations, but also by being introduced to the artists who were selected for a residency running concurrently with the conference. I also wanted to take the advertised opportunity to contribute to a collectively authored publication that was going to be produced after the conference. And finally, I wanted to have the opportunity to spend some time in Windsor and its border city Detroit, to walk around the core of the two cities and get a feel for them. Also, could it be possible that Duran Duran was playing at the Windsor casino that weekend? I glimpsed the announcement on the marquee as the taxi sped along, transporting me to my hotel.

The next morning I walked a short distance along sunny streets to get to the Art Gallery of Windsor where the conference was just getting started. A long day of concentrated discussion passed, with four intensive panels each featuring a range from three to five speakers, artists’ performances throughout the day and then a presentation by the 20-odd artists participating in the residency that had begun earlier in the week; all of the preceding was topped off by not one but three keynote speakers. I overheard another attendee say, at the end of the day, “Wow. That was like summer school in one sitting.” Later, as I was decompressing, I began to gather some of the threads together and I singled out one of the many recurring themes in the various presentations, which was “Walking as an Artistic Practice.”

On the first panel that morning, focusing on the artist’s role in education, Stephanie Springgay, (Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto) spoke of the pedagogical turn in recent contemporary art, and cited projects such as Diane Borsato’s The Chinatown Foray (2008-2010), where artists and non-artists produced lateral learning through a serendipitous expedition in an unconventional locale, and the Mammalian Diving Reflex’s Night Walks with Teenagers in Inverness, Cape Breton (2011), which took Parkdale kids from urban Toronto for nocturnal adventures on the East Coast.  Springgay is working with the artists mentioned as part of a research project entitled “The Institute of Walking.” The study examines the ways artistic practices reflect the inventive processes at work within everyday life and proposes that walking can enact a number of interesting inter-personal, social, and pedagogic relationships. By mindfully walking together, it seems, participants can realize the Beuysian motto “Everyone is an artist” and minimize the distinction between artists and non-artists.

The second panel of the day focused on collaboration, and again walking or hiking was a privileged mode of engaging with the environment and learning. Laura Mendes and John Loerchner (who work collaboratively under the name Labspace Studio) spoke about the East-End Expeditions Series that they ran in 2010. The series featured a number of artist-led projects and research-based expeditions that undertook the investigation, navigation and re-contextualization of natural spaces in the east-end of Toronto. For example, their Hydro Hike led 15 artists from various disciplines through a green corridor of trails, tracks and hydro fields that began in Scarborough and finished 26.5 kilometres later at the corner of Yonge and Bloor. Exhibitions featuring materials gathered during or inspired by these expeditions were then organized after the event in order to build meaningful narratives from their experiences and create common bonds between the participants. According to Loerchner and Mendes, their most successful exhibitions are built around conversations as opposed to objects. Their main goal is to create dialogue and share experiences, and these adventures provided an effective fulcrum for the realization of that goal.

The artist Catherine Campbell spoke most explicitly about walking as an artistic practice on the fourth panel presentation that day, the theme of which was “Cities and Space.” For Campbell, both walking art and storytelling are empowering activities that help one to find a sense of place and establish a connection to the land where one lives. A storyteller and artist engaging in walking as an artistic practice herself, Campbell often includes environmental teaching as a part of the process of her practice. Campbell is a teacher whose aim is to enable her students to find their own voices and articulate their own stories. During her presentation, she quoted Thomas King: “The truth about stories is that’s all we are.”  Finding stories to tell that are linked to place, the landscape and walking, Campbell helps her audiences/participants establish a connection to a place in order to feel fully alive there. People’s physical connections to a place, as much as their psychological connections, play a strong part in their sense of engagement, ownership, and citizenship.

A citizen’s physical engagement with place through walking as a potentially artistic practice was connected, implicitly if not explicitly, to another recurring thread at the conference: the Occupy Movement, which came up several times during discussions as an example of direct democracy revealing the collaborative nature of politics and consensus-building. Sarah Margolis-Pineo’s presentation on the third panel, themed “Artist-Run Infrastructures,” pointed out the echoes and the continued resonance of artistic practices of the ’60s and ’70s in today’s art, and cited as one example a parallel between the “Occupy Museums” movement and the Art Worker’s Coalition.  The first keynote speaker, Gregory Sholette, embodied the continuum by speaking about his own experience working with the artists’collective PAD/D (or Political Art Documentation and Distribution) throughout the ’80s. As an aside, he related that he had taken a walk earlier through Windsor and noted that, though it was looking pretty empty, it still wasn’t as bad as the Lower East Side in New York in the ‘70s. One of the crucial points he made about his experience with PAD/D was that, generally, one must articulate one’s own position and be vigilant about it so that it is not lost to history. He also spoke for those not as articulate as he: “Not having a discourse doesn’t mean you should be excluded.” Of course, one of the main criticisms of the Occupy Movement has been that it did not have a clear agenda or message to communicate. Conference-goers, clearly sympathetic with the Occupy Movement’s being if not aims, were able to reflect on issues related to collaboration and the socially engaged practices that were highlighted by the conference, and during the next day’s work groups led by the keynote speakers, they were given the opportunity to articulate a future strategy for moving forward. 

After two days of serious debate and discussion, the hundred or so people who had attended the conference had earned a well deserved pint, and so at around five o’ clock on Saturday October 22, a large number of them retired to the Phog lounge to have one.  While there, cogitating on the remnants of the day and mustering up the courage to talk to Salem Collo-Julin of Temporary Services (another one of the keynote speakers), I noticed the bartender turn, and putting down his telephone, call out to his patrons, “Does anyone want two tickets to see Duran Duran tonight?” I lost my train of thought and took him up on it. 

That night on the way to the concert, I kept noticing chalk outlines of bodies on the sidewalks of downtown Windsor, and the message was getting clearer each time I passed one, when, just as I was realizing that it had something to do with women’s victimization by male violence, a small parade of another hundred or so people rounded the corner, taking back the night and chanting “Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho! The Patriarchy has got to go!” Later, when the approximately 5,000 Duran Duran fans were let loose from the casino, I returned to my hotel, passing a tiny encampment I dimly perceived in a dark and quiet corner of Senator David Croll Park.  “Could that be Occupy Windsor?” I wondered, before venturing into the drunken melee of Ouellette Avenue, where a strip filled with nightclubs is closed for pedestrians on weekends.

The next day I caught a bus and headed over to Detroit to walk around for the afternoon.  I had visited Windsor and Detroit on a school trip many years before, but I had been shuttled around from art institution to art institution so I didn’t get the sense of place or scale of the place or orientation in it that I get from walking in a city.  The first thing I encountered when I arrived in Detroit was the much larger Occupy encampment, which took up a whole quadrant of Grand Circus Park.  Occupy Detroit was probably outflanked, however, by the throngs of other people animating the downtown: A Lion’s game had just ended at Comerica Park and there were numerous tail gate parties happening in parking lots throughout the core; A performance of “Carmina Burana” had also taken place at the Detroit Opera House that afternoon, and a wave of fancy-outfitted people had just hit the streets. I made my way over to the Detroit Institute of Arts, where a painting by Philip Guston was on view in a temporary exhibition featuring works donated by a Detroit collector.  In Driver (1975), a lone motorist with a meaty hand on the wheel steers a vehicle on a barren roadway into a bloodstained horizon.  After a weekend of walking in Windsor and Detroit, thinking and talking about social practices and artistic engagement, I felt that this painting summed up my experience.  All the diverse groups I encountered seemed to be pursuing their goals in an autonomous and unconnected manner. 

Leaving Windsor, I did walk back to the train station.  It took longer than I thought it would, but on the way I did discover that, yes, there was indeed an Occupy Windsor encampment in Senator David Croll Park.  Passing a teach-in session there, I overheard a man saying, “The odds are 99:1! Let’s Occupy the Streets!” My feeling is that the odds are going to have to get better than that.  Maybe one to one is more like it.  The last memorable thing I saw in Windsor was a dedication on a park bench overlooking the Detroit River: “Best Friends, Norm + Bev Marshall.” I thought of how, one day during the Homework residency, the participating artists stitched together a number of umbrellas to create an ambulatory canopy for them all to use to walk around Windsor together while it rained. Their canopy is a hopeful rejoinder to the grim outlook of Guston’s Driver. From walking in Windsor and Detroit, I took with me the following lesson: If you want to increase your numbers, and your chances, you’ll have to collaborate.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Allumage, Or, How the Light Gets In

Chantal Rousseau, Budgie, animated gif, 2011.

Allumage is the centerpiece event for artignite, a showcase of the performing and visual arts occurring in Kingston from January 25 to February 10, 2013. Using light as a theme, Allumage introduces Kingston-based artists to a broader public, encouraging community through shared participation in a celebration of contemporary art in non-traditional spaces. My curatorial project “Allumage, or How the Light Gets In” consists of four distinct installations and events that will take place throughout downtown Kingston in conjunction with the artignite festival.

Kingston artist Chantal Rousseau’s “Animated Gifs” will introduce the project, on view at five locations as of January 25th (Locations: 156 Princess Street (Novel Idea); 120 Princess Street (The Screening Room); 208 Wellington Street (4 Colour 8 Bit); 85 Princess Street (Wayfarer Books); 21 Queen Street (Modern Fuel)).

Next, Kingston’s storytelling group Mouthy will hold an event on the theme “From Darkness to the Light” at the Artel (205 Sydenham Street) on February 1st at 8 pm.

Westport’s Mark Thompson will prepare an ice installation for the night of February 2nd at 7 pm on the steps of City Hall (216 Ontario Street).

On the night of February 2nd, Kingston folk duo Kyra and Tully and Edmonton’s Clinker aka Gary James Joynes will perform in a live concert at 7:30 pm at the Ballroom of the Confederation Place Hotel (237 Ontario Street).

The theme for the project is suggested in its subtitle, “How the Light Gets In,” which is taken from the lyrics to Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem”: “There is a crack, a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.” Each artist and group contributing work to the “Allumage” project use their art as a critical fulcrum point to open a space that illuminates new perspectives and approaches to everyday life. Many of them use light as a medium that literally enacts this illumination. All of the events and installations are free and accessible to the public. Allumage is presented by the Kingston Whig-Standard.